Sometimes you're just in the mood for a Taiwanese kung fu-horror with centipede puking and believe it or not, it's not a tall order. Enter 1981's Wicked Wife from director King Weng (Tiger Love) and enter a thorough difficulty recapping what went on other than that it's an effort that sparkles when being gross but feels frozen in ice most of the time otherwise.
As far as I can gather (and it's not a whole lot), some minimal threads concerns multiple mutilation by a tiger who's actually a woman with the skills to turn into one. Then Leung Sau-Heun's character visits the Red Pearl brothel and has a friendly/antagonistic relationship with the mama-san referred to as widow (Lu Sen-Len) and a jade she carries may hold the key to a bond as brother and sister. A wizard is also using centipedes to kill but needs to bury his victims immediately before they turn into ghosts.
There's also singing, obnoxious perverts, flamboyant gay characters, mondo style footage of tigers attacking humans, goats and the unsettling footage from King Weng's own Tiger Love when a child is attacked by a tiger. Wicked Wife is really a movie that stumbles out of the gate and never regains whatever composure or momentum it thought it had. While the horror elements that are hinted at means promise for the b-movie fan in me, the following singing, slow pace and uninteresting dialogue scenes taken place in long shots kills off any mood or motivation to follow along the possible mystery here.
The possibly interesting back and forth between Leung Sau-Heun and Goo Chang never materializes into interest and a pay off really and what the movie clearly relies the best on is its gross thrills. The finale therefore involving a lot more of the green and red lit sets, the centipede curse (which of course includes actors puking them out of their mouths) and effective make-up is the only eye brow raiser here. But Wicked Wife is not a hidden, creative gem but rather a desperate clueless production that decided that exploitation is the only thing that'll get it noticed. Both real and fictional.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson