Although thematically consistent with the lurid crime anthologies labeled 'The Criminals' series, the original theatrical version of 'A Teenager's Nightmare' was not associated with the series until its video release. See more »
What a rare treat this fifth installment in "The Criminals" series is -- two extremely interesting films for the price of one. The first, "Gun", is by TF Mous, the director of the landmark "Men Behind The Sun". Two young scoundrels find hand grenades and a dismantled gun after a smuggler is killed for them. They assemble the weapon and begin a crime spree that ends badly (and with a gory bang); this is a Mous film, of course, so don't expect any pleasantries. What was unexpected is that this film is solid, kinetic film-making with brutal fight scenes and exciting, innovative cinematography and direction. There is some genuine suspense and Mous demonstrates his trademark "take no prisoners" approach to the material. The second mini-feature, "A Teenager's Nightmare", is directed by Chih-Hung Kwei, the man who brought us "Killer Snakes" and "Bamboo House of Dolls". It more than lives us to its title -- in fact, some folks will have big problems with its content. A rapist, who hides behind a pair of mirror sunglasses, trains his pedophilic gaze on several young girls in their early teens. Forcing them to strip at knifepoint, he fondles and abuses them before proceeding with bloody defilement (all are virgins, of course, and given to bleeding). The dim-witted cops are always several steps behind the "pervert", and when the rape count climbs to seven, one of the cop's teenage daughters is talked into becoming the sicko's bait. In true Hong Kong style, the cops are too busy gambling to hear the rapist going about his violation of the young girl. "Only in Hong Kong cinema," you might say. Although the source of the rapist's anger towards young girls is a childhood incident involving his pre-teen stepsister (which "Dr. Lamb" may have borrowed), he is also obsessed with a particular porno magazine that features a naked photograph (shown briefly) of Eva Ionesco, the star of "Maladolescenza", which was made in the very same year ('77). One can only speculate that the Shaw's jumped on the short-lived "Maladolescenza"-inspired, international bandwagon (or was it the cult of Eva Ionesco?) by proceeding with production on this incendiary storyline (much harsher than other entries in the series). The director pulls few punches and depicts the pre-rape ripping, tearing, and fondling graphically. The actual rapes are cleverly suggested. What keeps this from being a truly nasty classic is the slightly cheesy music and a couple of attempts at humor. Still, this is a cinematic lottery win from two of Hong Kong's sultans of sleaze and extremism. It is not to be ignored.
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