A mentally disturbed professor checks himself into a hospital where he meets other patients suffering from schizophrenia as a result of extramarital affairs. He comes across a story about a man who was killed by his mistress – a prostitute named Myung-ja. Apparently Myung-ja was raped by a married man who incidentally suffered from impotence, but the assault turns into a prolonged love affair. After much contemplation, Myung-ja asks her man to be his concubine. Surprisingly, the man’s wife agrees to it and even arranges Myung-ja to live with them in exchange for curing her husband’s potency. But what no one has yet to see is that something horrific is heading their way. —YesAsia
Kim Ki-young (October 1, 1922 – February 5, 1998) was a South Korean film director, known for his intensely psychosexual and melodramatic horror films, often focusing on the psychology of their female characters. Kim was born in Seoul during the Japanese occupation, raised in Pyongyang and spent time in Japan, where he became interested in theater and cinema. In Korea after the end of World War II, he studied dentistry while becoming involved in the theater. During the Korean War, he made propaganda films for the United States Information Service. In 1955, he used discarded American equipment to produce his first two films. With the success of these two films Kim formed his own production company and produced popular melodramas for the rest of the decade.
Kim Ki-young’s first expression of his mature style was in his The Housemaid (1960), which featured a powerful femme fatale character. It is widely considered to be one of the best Korean films of all time. After a “Golden Age… read more
It really is hard to describe a Kim Ki-young movie. In terms of plot elements, this one is a bit more straightforward than the other stuff I have seen by him so far, but then again, only barely. In this outing we have a young woman who is the daughter of a concubine forced into prostitution because of her father's death. She is raped by a married man who discovers that aggression is the cure for his impotence, but then she falls for him and a love affair begins. His domineering wife (whose costumes make Fellini's women look minimalist by comparison) and slimy children are none too happy about this and begin plotting her demise. Like with KKY's other movies, this is basicaly one outrageous melodramatic sequence after another. We have a sex scene on top of a candy covered glass table, a vampire baby, Nietzsche-quoting schoolgirls, and plenty of Cinemascope madness. There is not a single redeeming character here. Underneath this all is a scathing critique of Korea's capitalist-military dominated society and the oppressive social structures it fosters. Sadly, like KKY's other movies, this one is in desperate need of restoration. The only copy available has handwritten Spanish subtitles and the print looks like someone took a rake to it. Even then nothing can cover the genius within.
There are certainly strokes of genius, as you would expect from kim ki young. Some extraordinary camerawork, the candy scene being one that will stick in my mind for a long time, but I do think the film lacked coherence in certain places, which somewhat marred the viewing experience.