Many years have passed since I started writing film reviews. In that time, I’ve covered everything from mainstream action blockbusters and animated films to the grimiest low-budget horror flicks I could personally handle. From time to time, I have to remind myself why I started this site and really get back to the ‘repulsive’ side of Repulsive Reviews. There is no better way to do that today than with Herman Yau’s The Untold Story.
After severed limbs are discovered along a Macao beach, local detectives are sent on a search for the suspected killer. Their findings lead them to the Eight Immortals Restaurant and its new owner, Wong Chi Hang (Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, Ebola Syndrome). With increased pressure and some unorthodox methods, they finally break Wong and get him to confess to the grisly murders of an entire family.
I’ve been a horror fan for multiple decades now and there are still tons of hidden gems, more than I’ll ever be able to physically track down. Thankfully there are a great number of people out there that are doing remarkable things to bring some of these long-lost films to a larger audience. That is the only reason I’ve finally run across Herman Yau’s The Untold Story.
As part of the Category III ratings system of Hong Kong produced cinema, The Untold Story is every bit as brutal as you’d imagine. The film has many layers to it. Some that, on paper, wouldn’t seem like they’d fit.
Throughout the film’s 96 minutes, there were times where I felt as though I was watching a buddy cop comedy, others when I felt as if I was watching a true crime docu-series. Still, with all of that going on, the message is clear and concise and is certainly not for everyone.
Truth be told, The Untold Story is a very well put together movie. It is really well made, well written, and even with the myriad of sub-genres it seems to explore, still a very comprehensive story. The comedic elements, mostly presented to us by the team of local police officers and their ongoing hi-jinks, are actually very funny and help to create some levity in what is to be a very dark tale overall.
When it comes to the actual horror elements, well, writer Danny Lee and Yau hit those out of the part as well. There is a reason that this film has been heavily cut for many years; Rather explicit scenes of sexual assault and rape and violence against children, including at least one decapitation, will make this hard to watch even in 2020, a time when most horror fans consider themselves ‘used to it all.’
All manner of violence and gore is created with 100% practical effects, with no extraneous CGI in sight. There is no holding back as the antagonist of The Untold Story goes around chopping up bodies, stabbing people in the face and head with paper receipt spike sticks, etc. Some of the dismembered limbs do look rubbery at times, but don’t let that bother you. The high level of gruesome carnage is maintained the entire time.
The Untold Story at Home
A new home release of The Untold Story is now available from Unearthed Films. As part of their growing Unearthed Classics line, Stephen Biro and gang have once again outdone themselves. I feel like a broken record at this point because it seems that I say this with every release UF graces hardcore horror fans with. Still, the statement is just as true now as it ever is.
Maybe you scored a copy of The Untold Story from a friend years ago on VHS, cut and censored. Maybe you heard about this one through underground gore forums back in the day. Regardless, with its new 1.78:1 restoration, this film has never looked or sounded better than it does on Unearthed Film’s newest Blu-ray. It’s as if the film was shot just this year, instead of in the early nineties.
On top of the remarkable transfer, fans are also treated to a myriad of special bonus content. Included here are various interviews and Q&A sessions, as well as the feature-length documentary, Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema. If you ever wanted to learn more about the films that fall into this ratings system, this is the doc for you.
Finally, the Blu-ray release features a written essay by Art Ettinger of Ultra Violent Magazine and, of course, a numbered slip cover.
I did not know what to expect going into The Untold Story. Being fairly new to the more extreme side of horror myself, I am always trepidatious heading into one of these films. I am glad I pulled the trigger, however, as this one was one hell of a ride from start to finish.
The acting is on point from all parties and nothing beats the violence on display. If you are a fan of Asian horror and the Category III flicks from years ago or just want to scratch that extreme horror itch, give The Untold Story a watch today. You won’t regret it.
I give The Untold Story 4.5 hot barbecue human meat buns out of 5.