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Gilbert de Quincey is an early 19th-century adventurer involved with helping runaway slave girls and victims of a tong war in San Francisco. Garbed in black from head to toe, de Quincey narrates his adventures. At the slave auction where beautiful Oriental girls are displayed in hanging bamboo cages, de Quincey befriends a tiny wisecracking female Oriental dwarf. Written by
Gilbert De Quincey:
In that first instance of her image passing the lenses of my eyes, I felt that I was hanging in the immensity of space and she was floating with me - chained, locked inextricably together; arms, brains, heart pulsations, unable to flee, unable to break apart; sinking, sinking through the inexhaustible depths of time. I forgot the long journey by the sea. I forgot the pain. I forgot my mission. Was it the heavy, drifting perfume of the incense or some feverish fantasy searing my brain...
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If it's a completely bizarre horror flick you're after, then you can go wrong with Confessions of an Opium Eater as there is NOTHING typical about this flick, and overall it is just as much an oddity as its title suggests it is! I actually saw this film under the alternative title 'Souls for Sale', but 'Confessions of an Opium Eater' does the film far more justice. My main reason for seeing the film was because it's a Vincent Price film that I'd never come across before, and anyone seeing Confessions of an Opium Eater for the same reason won't be disappointed as this is Vincent Price as you've never seen him! Indeed, not even the usually distinctive master of the macabre can deliver the usual in this film. The plot is often confusing and doesn't always flow well, but the themes of opium induced hallucinations, Chinese human auctions and odd little midgets are usually enough to see it through and ensure that it's hard to care about the shortcomings with the plot.
The dialogue is surprisingly lyrical, and it's a huge benefit to the film that Vincent Price is on hand to deliver it. Price's voice always bodes well with dialogue like this, and that doesn't change here. Confessions of an Opium Eater was filmed in black and white, and while the cinematography looks rather cheap; it does fit the feel of the film. Vincent Price takes centre stage at almost all times, and while there are some memorable characters among the supporting cast - it is always clear that this is Price's film. The film is directed by Albert Zugsmith; and the fact that he is better known for his producing credits is hardly surprising as his direction isn't exactly inspiring...but then again, you can't expect brilliance in a B-movie picture like this one. There are a number of standout moments in the film, however, and chief among them is Price's hallucination sequence; which somehow manages to blend well with the rest of the picture. Overall, Confessions of an Opium Eater is a film that is well worth tracking down despite not being one of price's out and out best efforts, and I highly recommend it.
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