Thursday, August 25, 2016

Honourable Mention: The Black Tavern

The Black Tavern, or Hei Dian, was a 1972 Shaw Brother movie directed by Wing-Cho Yip and the basic premise of the movie saw a beggar monk in a tavern telling all who will listen to his song about an allegedly corrupt official he saw on the road the night before carrying a king’s ransom in treasures.

Two brigands go after the official who is rescued by a hero. They arrive at the Black Tavern – a brigand’s place where steam buns made with human flesh are served – and it quickly becomes apparent that the “official” is another criminal out to get the real official and the hero is more than happy to work with him.

As the night progresses more and more villains appear.

spitting bun in the corpse's face
The reason it takes our interest is because a corpse herder eventually turns up with his four wards. Now the idea of corpse herding, walking the corpse across the land for burial, is where a lot of the kyonsi myth in movies came from. In this case, however, they are not actually corpses at all but other members of a criminal gang and their disguise is the corpse and herder combination. This becomes all too apparent when the nervous beggar monk spits steam bun at one of the “corpses” to check it is docile.

corpse hearding
We discover that the band are known as the Five Ghosts of Xiang Xi (the region where, apparently, the myth of the corpse herder developed). Of course they do eventually end up as corpses for real as they fight with the villains already at the inn. So, a fleeting visitation and only acting like a vampire but enough to get a mention. As for the film it is primarily an action martial art flick and well worth a watch if that is your sort of thing.

The imdb page is here.

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