Old 05-13-2012, 06:24 PM
Confessions of an opium eater (1962)

Confessions of an opium eater (1962)

Directed by Albert Zugsmith
Vincent Price ... Gilbert De Quincy
Linda Ho...Ruby Low
Richard Loo...George Wah

In the long and diverse filmography of my lord and savior Vincent Price I donīt think he ever made a "weirder" film than Confessions of an opium eater. Itīs also one of his least seen, it seems that only the internet made it possible to be unearthed at all with sources from some sketchy british video tape with the alternate title "Souls for Sale". Under itīs original title, the movie claims to be based on Thomas De Quincyīs book (bits and pieces published in 1821) of the same title, an "autobiographical account" of the writers own weird opium experiences. He explains his situation in the first part of the book while the second part is a totally weird, inexplicable writerīs delir, nevertheless rendered with some beautiful poetry about nasty, occult themes. So whatīs the writing got to do with the film?

Fuck all, it seems. From a filmmaking standpoint, a lot of this is the absolute pits. There wasnīt much budget. I believe it was originally inteded to cash on the Fu-Manchuish spy-thriller genre that was starting to bloom in itīs days of release. The story is a not very logical chain of events centered around Vincent Priceīs character (Gilbert De Quincy, a play on the writer) arriving in San Fransisco and trying to help a bunch of asian woman who were kidnapped by the chinese mafia to be sold as slaves. Price narrates the movie off-screen and often rambles into deep philosophical territory. Thereīs some unbelieveable trashy action scenes that have to be seen to be believed. Price encounters various shady asian characters who tend to lose and win their accent back in one line. The narrative is beyond way off, taking time to include a white horse on a beach in the hilarious opening scene and among other quirky nonsense, an opium "trip" narrated with definite passion by your host, Vincent Price. All these points Iīm making here donīt really hit the mark though, Confessions of an opium eater is an experience that has to be made before fully understood (or, not).

Strangly through, even if I have no idea of what the producers thought they were doing here I canīt deny that thereīs a strange beauty in this mess. It properbly depends where youīre coming from in a personal way but somehow, I could relate to some of the nonsense that Price is rambling about and therefore, I felt for his character and his quest. My own drug experiences donīt reach into opium (and never will) but I gotta say that this film got that certain "trippy" vibe you can get from hallucinogenics, itīs badly-written narrative and nonexistent production vaulues kinda make you feel a little loose in the head yourself. There is at least some coherency in the film in that certain symbols like the skull or the horse often resurface later, so I guess there was some thought put into this.

So, is this a movie to watch for sheer entertaiment value? Properbly not for most people, but the fact that it leaves so many questions about itīs purpose unanswered makes it very fascinating for me. Itīs a real pity this is so obscure, a restored version could maybe shed some light into itīs history. Iīd definitely recommend this for fans of Vincent Price since his narration alone make it worth watching and people who cherish offbeat cinema.
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Old 05-20-2012, 04:18 PM
I wonder if this film is in the public domain. If so, I'm suprised it hasn't popped up on one of those bargain bin multi-film DVD sets yet. If it's not, then it could use a good, proper release as you said.
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