Marianna (1982)

Directed by: Cheuk Ang-Tong
Written by: Lee Dang, So Gin-Wing, Ng Wai-Wing, Gam Bing-Hing & Century Motion Group
Producers: Jeff Lau & Dennis Yu
Starring: Sally Yeh, Chin Han, Anna Maria & Steve Barlow


One of Sally Yeh's very first roles and one she probably has since long forgotten. It can't be erased from any resume though and in some shape or form, Marianna is still in circulation. Produced by Jeff Lau and Dennis Yu (The Beasts, The Imp), the free for all new wave explosion of early 80s Hong Kong cinema is felt as this is a pretty outrageous idea combining a triangle drama with nods to cannibal movies. That tickles, if only ever so slightly.

Peter (Chin Han) goes on a business trip to the Phillipines where he saves local girl Marianna (Anna Maria) from her pursuers. Back in Hong Kong his wife Nancy (Sally Yeh) suspects he's having an affair and when Marianna turns up in Hong Kong and eventually beds Peter, the marriage is in pieces. Marianna's pursuers, from her local village, also hit Hong Kong and starts targeting Peter, Nancy and their kids...

Being one of several examples of Hong Kong cinema showing it's bad to go outside the city or even abroad to Borneo, Phillipines etc (see Centipede Horror, Red Spell Spells Red), it's especially fun to see as Hong Kong movies changing locale and this period in particular comes with its form of intrigue. More so when exploitation and horror is involved though. Co-producer Dennis Yu also had the savage backwoods horror The Beasts from 1981 on his resume but there's no such quality felt here by director Cheuk Ang-Tong (whose only other credit is The Security from the year before) though.

Mostly being a flat, very basic and minor piece of soap opera that gets spun around when the movie TRULY introduces the Phillipines for its characters, a minor sense of building tension is present but mostly we get by thanks to the latter reels violence and a short running time. Because the plight of the couple experiencing adultery, jealousy-games and the wrath of cannibals doesn't come with investment but a minor cult following for Marianna wouldn't be out of order based on a few minutes.

The wrong turn scenario towards the end and the fights with tribesmen and cannibals engages because of its unusual and rare place in Hong Kong cinema and it's not every day you could talk of a Sally Yeh cannibal movie that comes with wicked, psychedelic sound design and the needed excess in jungle climax. It's bad enough to be fun and short enough to be bearable.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson