Fellow Mondo contributor Pierre and I had a discussion after watching Diary of a Serial Killer about the endless pit that is Category III cinema. It’s often considered by filth-hounds that a CAT III rating is a promise of a repulsive classic like The Untold Story (1993) or Red to Kill (1994). But the CAT III stamp is not as mystical as its reputation suggests — and, to be fair, I’m very much guilty of promoting that reputation. For every Daughter of Darkness (1993), there’s stack of worthless softcore VCDs. As such, if you are to find the best (or worst depending on your taste) of CAT III, you must wade through some very boring filth. Happily, when a hunk of steamy scum like Diary of a Serial Killer comes along, the effort is worthwhile.
DIARY OF A SERIAL KILLER
original title: 廣州殺人王之人皮日記
(Guang Zhou sha ren wang zhi ren pi ri ji)
Hong Kong, 1995, Otto Chan
Diary of a Serial Killer follows a prototypical CAT III psycho: Bill (Kwok-Pong Chan) — his name a nod to The Silence of the Lambs, an obvious inspiration for scriptwriter Phillip Cheng Chi-Tai. Bill is about as goofy as serial killers get. He sweats profusely and breaks into giggling fits. He enjoys playing “hide and seek” with his victims (the game they actually play is in no way hide and seek), turning corpses into puppets (which he, of course, fucks), and playing hilarious pranks on cops like dipping pickled severed breasts into their drinks when they’re not looking. Haha! Oh Bill!
Bill has an awesome wife (Farini Cheung) who supports him by slaving away in a field all day with a grim Guangzhou backdrop behind her and a daughter to tend to in-between hoeing. But Bill is so sex-obsessed that even his wife’s oily hand-service can’t stop him murdering hookers and picking lady-pubes off soap to paste in his creepy serial killer diary.
When the young and attractive Jade (Yuk-Mui Yeung), a relative of Bill’s wife, comes to stay, Bill goes full psycho. He desperately tries to repress his urge to kill Jade. He likes Jade — she’s nice to his daughter and she does super awesome bike tricks.
Bill’s psyche is hysterically ill-thought out. One moment he’s goofing around, miming poorly choreographed martial arts and laughing hysterically about killing a Japanese hooker as revenge for the Second Sino-Japanese War, the next he’s pleading a trussed up corpse that she not be a hooker when she’s reincarnated.
It’s clear from the get go that despite its feeble attempts at thickening out Bill’s character and throwing around something resembling a mad moralistic motivation for murder, Diary of a Serial Killer is only interested in getting two things out of its audience: titillation and revulsion. It achieves both with admirable success.
Diary of a Serial Killer is pure filth, among the foulest CAT III efforts I’ve seen and a special kind of amoral trash that could only exist in Hong Kong within a very specific time frame of the early 90s to the mid-90s (even ’95 is pushing it a bit). It’s utterly braindead, offensively obnoxious and sleazy with the thinnest of nonsensical plots. And yes, that’s exactly what I want from a CAT III movie. A toast to you, Otto Chan.
As far as I can tell, Diary of a Serial Killer has not received a DVD release. The only release for it I can find is a VCD. Its quality is not fantastic, but it’s certainly watchable. It looks to be out of print, so happy hunting!