Welcome. I’d like to start this review today with a couple of quotes from real life.
1. “If you buy your next cruise while you’re on your cruise, that’s the way to do it.”
2. “I don’t know my account number, I’m not no GENIUS!”
The intuitive reader will notice that these two quotes are vastly different, yet equally irritating. They are the kinds of things that permanently increase the heat in the brain and add to the overall boiling point. Let’s just say that on a scale from Big Bird to Michael Douglas in FALLING DOWN, Sesame Street is farther away in my rear view mirror than ever before. What I’m trying to relay is that I can really relate to revenge right now…Enter THE OILY MANIAC to soothe my wounds like a sacred salve.
There exists a Malaysian folk tale about a supernatural creature called Orang Minyak, or, the Oily Man. Aside from the appearance of being coated in black oil, Orang Minyak is notorious for just one thing.
Well, THE OILY MANIAC is the loosest of adaptations. In the original 1956 film entitled SUMPAH ORANG MINYAK, the Oily Man is a villain that rapes numerous virgin women and worships Satan.
In this mid 70’s Hong Kong horror courtesy of the legendary Shaw Brothers, the Oily Maniac is the hero of the film, and doesn’t go about raping virgins in the name of the lord of eternal suffering. Rather, he sets out to punish rapists (and shady businessmen) and seek revenge–at least at first. Things do get a bit foggy.
Now while this may sound wholesome compared to the savage black-and-white original, THE OILY MANIAC is still very much a South Asian exploitation film, packed with attempted and suggested rape, and a steady stream of topless chinese women.
But who is the Oily Maniac? Inframan himself, Danny Lee, plays the crippled legal assistant who traces a prisoner’s back tattoo and uses it as a spell that allows him to transform into a Greasy Strangler of sorts to avenge wrongdoings. But of course he is warned by his tattooed prisoner friend that if he uses the abilities selfishly, he will die a horrible death.
As the Oily Maniac, Dannyboy stomps around in an uncomfortable monster suit with wide-open arms and throws wild haymakers at ne’er-do-wells. He also has the ability to transform into an oil slick and play the JAWS theme to get from A to B. Oh, and if you cut off his head, it will turn into an oil slick, slide back to his body, and reform his head in a moment of stop-motion glory.
Was I supposed to revel in the revenge and the cheapjack effects? Was I supposed to relate to a monster made of oil with his heart exposed? Well, I did. Watching THE OILY MANIAC is an experience akin to meeting someone for the first time that you could swear you’ve known before.
When I realized the main character was actually the 70’s and its gratuitous, SCARFACE-sized mountain of cocaine sitting off camera, I was able to forgive some of the oversights. For example, when the cripple becomes the monster and has full use of his legs, we never get to see him relish that realization. Also, there’s a glaring omission from the film’s ending! There is no monster on monster fight between the Oily Man and maybe some sort of duck monster!
THE OILY MANIAC was one of the first 5 movies I intended to review a couple years back when I started working on this site. It feels good to finally complete that initial shortlist, pardon the auto-fellatio.
Stay oily, and be rad at all times!