Confessions of an Opium Eater (aka Souls for Sale)
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Vincent Price faces the death of 1,000 cuts in this delirious pulp adventure directed by Touch of Evil producer Albert Zugsmith. Returning to San Francisco after a long stay in the Orient, two-fisted mercenary Gilbert De Quincey (Price) finds himself caught in the midst of a Tong war. Descending deep below the surface of Chinatown, he plays one side against the other in a daring attempt to break up a human trafficking ring, where slave girls are auctioned for opium. A surreal, rip-roaring yarn packed with evil drug lords, secret passageways, illicit opium dens and more, Confessions of an Opium Eater is a “claustrophobic fever dream … one of the most bizarre, beautiful and poetic Z-films ever made” (Chicago Reader)!
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"I think you wear more faces than there are stars in a gutter after the rain."
That i just a small portion of the weird Confucianism's that are peppered throughout this movie. Basically a war between the Tongs and the Drug & "Bride" traders, Price's De Quincey is a mercenary who is siding with the traders until he gets close to one of the "Brides" and decides to help her escape.
It's a very slow and meandering movie where a chase scene is all in slow motion because Price is stoned from opium. It never really gets into 2nd gear and even the ending takes to long to get to it.
Don't get me wrong, I love this movie. Not quite as strange as I remember it, but, then again, it's been decades since I last saw it.
The 1:66 anamorphic picture is grainy and shows it's B movie budget but is still looks great for a 50 year old film.
Here's where I usually drop a bomb and blast this to bits. However, I really don't have any negatives to say at all. Very grateful to Warners for releasing this.
If you haven't seen this then you won't get much out of it. If you have then this is a must.
No matter what you are prepared for, it will surprise you.
Relax, accept the movie in its geniality, and do not attempt to judge it
by any standard criteria; you will enjoy it, and see it again and again.
The film transports you into a strange world where anything is possible, and brings you both
laughter and a scare or two. But above, it will marvel you. It is a dream. And a good one, too.
Don't take this for an adaption of T. de Quincey's book - it is not. In fact, the very point is made
when Vincent Price states that he is the descendant of the Thomas de Quincey, which gives the
film yet another dimension. Enjoy! Vincent did. I do.
Shot on a shoestring budget by exploitation producer Albert Zugsmith (SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE, THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ADAM & EVE) and also directed by him, this OPIUM EATER is not an adaptation of the famous Thomas De Quincey work but rather a reimagining of it. Price plays Gerald De Quincey, a descendant of Thomas who 100 years later in 1902 becomes involved in a Tong war in San Francisco over the selling of Asian brides. Vincent plays a philosophical action hero (?!) who waxes poetic as he attempts to free the captured women. While the Chinese characters speak in Charlie Chan English, they are at least played by Asian performers who give commited performances in spite of the dialogue.
Originally released by low budget specialists Allied Artists (formerly Monogram Pictures), the movie is now being released by Warner Archive as an MOD (made on demand) DVD-R. Whether it's for the film's 50th anniversary I'm not sure but whatever the reason, I'm glad to have finally caught up with it. Although awkward and cheesy in some places, there are several moments which stand out long after the film is over such as Price's opium dream and his escape from his pursuers across the rooftops of Chinatown which is done in slow motion and without sound. Producer Albert Zugsmith was also responsible for THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN and TOUCH OF EVIL and there is something like those movies especially the latter in this one. Not a good movie but a fascinating one.
Nice transfer by warner archive picture is sharp and the sound is great
One of the greatest drug trip sequences ever shot Bravo Warner for making this available.
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