Ah, ginseng: Restorer of vigor, bulwark to the libido, aid to digestion--a gift of nature no matter how ingested, be it in pill form, a yummy tea, or in those little glass ampules you get in Chinatown that come with a little scoring stone. But best of all is when the ginseng root itself shrinks itself down from it's ungainly human size and launches itself into your mouth on a shaft of golden light. What?
It's been a while since I've watched a batshit insane fantasy kung fu film, and 1986's Magic of Spell really hit the spot. It has everything I could ask for in such a feature: lots of eighties metal band hairstyles, cartoon laser beams shooting out of everything, life-sized skeleton puppets, and folks swinging around on wires at pretty much all times. There was even a boulder monster reminiscent of the beloved watermelon monster from Taoism Drunkard. But what really won my heart was the thousand year old ginseng root, played by a kid in a suitmation ginseng costume, who was constantly in danger of being eaten by the other characters. Since these type of movies tend to blur together in the mind like one long, half-remembered hallucination, it's good to have such touchstone moments; That way I can now think, "Oh yes, Magic of Spell: Ginseng Boy!", just as I think "Holy Flame of the Martial World: attacking airborne Chinese characters!", or "Kung Fu Wonder Child: farting baby hopping vampire!".
Magic of Spell was produced in Taiwan and stars Lin Hsiao Lan, a female star who played young boy heroes in a number of these type of films, including the aforementioned Kung Fu Wonder Child. Here she plays Peach Boy, a very loose interpretation of the popular Chinese folk hero who, in this incarnation, has a pair of giant attack peaches that come to his aid in a pinch. Fortune Star/Joy Sales has released the film on VCD, and if you're a fan (like I am) of films like Kung Fu From Beyond the Grave or the Shaw Brothers' Buddha's Palm, it's one you should definitely be stumbling all over yourself to get a hold of.
All the Spare Ribs! - Open Culture has all 239 issues of Spare Rib. “Founded in ’72 by Marsha Rowe and Rosie Boycott (pictured below), and run as a collective, the magazine feat...
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