Devil Box (1984)

鬼戰 / Devil Box is a 1984 Hong Kong horror movie written and directed by Chin Ming Cheung and starring Simon Yam as an earnest young movie director. Unlike most Hong Kong cinema horror stories, which center around ghosts, Devil Box is about a demonic force that brings insanity and horror down on the head of Director Simon.  This is the only film Chin Ming Cheung ever wrote or directed and is surprisingly thoughtful and arty.  I appreciate his vision but a tiny budget, flaccid editing and crappy subtitles destroy all hope of this film being frightening or entertaining.  It is occasionally unintentionally amusing. Sigh.

My main interest in Devil Box is Simon Yam’s hair.

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This is an awfully “earthy” look for the normally dapper Yam.

I think the real star of this movie is Yam’s hair; the actor is just there to play a supporting role.  His ever-shifting hairstyles are as fascinating as an old-time kaleidoscope.  And they are definitely the movie’s best special effects.

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Fashion is very important to HK superstar Simon Yam so I think he deserves a special medal for bravery in allowing himself to appear so funky on film. Because bad movies never really go away, do they?  The internet  haunts you much worse than some dumb box.

My second interest in Devil Box is that the story’s protagonist is a director of television commercials.  I sometimes can think movies about movies are fun.  This movie is not fun but a story about a haunted arty-farty film director is sort of interesting, especially when there is zero intentional humor involved.

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Just like me, Director Simon has grandiose, sweeping ideas about how things should be done.

There are some weird but boring deaths while Director Simon is filming commercials, and he has some dreams about being in a field.  Sometimes he’s in the hospital because he is going crazy.  That’s pretty much it for this movie.  Maybe it was cut; I can’t make much sense of it.

I do love one moment of Devil Box. I mean, I really love this part.

For some reason not ever communicated in the subtitles, the haunted devil box wants to kill everybody.  So it hangs an inconsequential film editor by the reel of film he is working with in the editing room.  I have no idea why the devil box kills him; I just find the idea of some guy being hanged in miles of twisted, festooning 35mm very very very appealing.

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I guess this is a pretty cool death for a movie nerd.  I think I might love Hong Kong cinema enough to die for it.

On the other hand, I could actually die if I ever had to watch all of Devil Box again.  And that would be a pointless death.  For your own safety, avoid this film.

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