We have here quick review of Norman Chan’s nasty little CAT III number, DIARY OF A SERIAL KILLER , starring Power Chan (THE ETERNAL EVIL OF ASIA ) and Strawberry Yeung (KICKBOXER ). As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, CAT III cinema isn’t really the kind of thing you’d gather the family together to watch, but for adventurous cinephiles with strong stomachs looking for the kind of OTT violence and depravity that only Asia can provide, it’s the gold standard in sleaze. Unlike Western exploitation which promised all kinds of debaucherous depravity, but typically delivered very little, Asian exploitation—specifically the Hong Kong variety—used to deliver what it promised, and then some. I use past tense because, sadly, the heyday of CAT III cinema has come and gone and with very few “classics” seeing remastered Blu-ray releases. Many of these films will end up “lost”, and for many connected to these films, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Billy, a small-time lorry driver, is more than just a husband and father, he’s also an accomplished serial killer with a penchant for sampling, then killing, hookers. As if that weren’t bad enough, he mutilates their remains, often keeping small trophies pubic hair and patches of skin. This deep-seated hatred of women is tested, when Jade, a member of his wife’s family, comes to stay and he begins developing feelings for the beautiful young women. With his family, job and freedom on the line, can Billy’s newfound love transform him or will Jade end up just another nipple in Auntie’s salted fish soup?
Having been loosely inspired by the crimes of Lam Kor-wan (the original “Dr Lamb”, aka “The Jars Murderer”) and Lam Kwok-wai (The “Tuen Mun Rapist”), DIARY OF A SERIAL KILLER is a grotty little film that wallows in its own nastiness like a pig in muck. It’s certainly not the worst content I’ve seen, or even the worst quality that I’ve seen, but it’s what some might refer to as a “mean-spirited” film, which made it a bit of a chore. That may sound silly to some—it is after all about a hooker-killing serial killer—but the manner in which it all unfolds is rather seedy and cruel. The sex workers here are pretty much stupid, loose crooks deserving of their fates. They’re nothing more than fleshy bowling pins to be set up and knocked down for the viewer’s titillation. Our antagonist Billy, on the other hand, was mistreated by the system, abused and berated by a woman in authority, and denied sex by his wife. How can you not feel for the guy, right? Eh. While one can certainly take away from this the message that victims often go on to victimize others, there’s no lesson to be learned here, this really all just feels like an excuse to see Billy rail women, then slice their genitals off.
Should you see Diary of Serial Killer? That’s a hard question to answer. As an Asian horror fan, I’ve made it my mission to see anything and everything I can get my hands on. I want to experience as much as possible from the continent. Unfortunately, that means I also see a lot of poorly made shit (I’m looking at you OH MY GHOST! Series!) and a lot of WTF moments that are hard to forget. Do I regret them? Not really. Will you regret watching this? Probably not, but who can say but you. The acting is reasonable, it’s easy to follow and a few of the camera shots are works of art. It’s not as “good” as other CAT III serial killer films, but there are a few standout sequences that are sure to elicit cringes.
[This article was contributed by ‘Brian Harris’ who manages Weng’s Chop magazine]