Castle of Fu Manchu, Christopher Lee, Edwoodalikes, Foreign, Fu Manchu, Harry Alan Towers, Jess Franco, Jesus Franco, Nayland Smith, Period Piece, Rosalba Neri, Satellite of Love (Mystery Science Theater 3000), Sax Rohmer, SOL, Stock Footage, Stolen Footage, Tom Servo
“This is Asia.”
“I hate to put it this way, but the project deteriorated with the remakes. And when we made the 5th one-that was the last one, I think it was-I said to Jesus [Director Jess Franco] when I viewed the print, I said, ‘Well, you’ve done something that was impossible: You successfully killed Fu Manchu.’”
-Producer Harry Alan Towers on The Castle of Fu Manchu quoted from The Fall of Fu Manchu.
There was a 6th Fu Manchu movie planned, but it was scrapped after the critical and box office failure of The Castle.
I don’t’ know much about the ‘historical’ Fu Manchu. If you had asked me, I would have probably cited him as a Sherlock Holmes villain.
We all know Fu Manchu as a villain and a mustache, but Sax Rohmer actually described Fu as ‘hairless’, for 50 points and control of the board: Which actor was the first to portray Fu Manchu with a mustache?
Footage from 1958’s A Night to Remember (sinking ship) and 1957’s Campbell’s Kingdom (Bursting Dam) are used in this movie.
Director Jesus (Jess) Franco, and who appears as Inspector Ahmet, made some very odd pornography/sexploitation films during his career. I have seen him referred to as ‘the Ed Wood’ of Europe. He directed films from the late 50’s to 2013, he passed away earlier this year.
We miss Lisa (Rosalba Neri) killing a junkie in the SOL cut. He just comes into the scene complaining of no opium, and she knifes him.
Another film where the nonsensical nature of the movie is not a result of unfair editing, but exist in the original cut. The Governor goes straight from the dead man to running around the hallways.
A very dramatic colored liquid boiling sequence. Kind of pretty, but padding all the same. The extended coffin carrying sequence was a good choice to cut. The heart surgery takes longer in the full version, a missed chance for more fake blood and gore is all it becomes. The SOL did a very good job of cutting this film without losing very much in terms of structure.
Is there another series like this built around a villain?
The one thing I do like about this movie: all the little 1920’s items-the cars, the phones, guns and equipment.
Honestly, the best thing in this movie is Rosalba Neri in those suits.
There is so much wrong with this movie. It was a franchise on its very last legs. The script had become lazy, relying on coincidence after coincidence to further the plot. The direction is trying too hard to be ‘arty’ in too many places. Too many decisions by the characters fly hard in the face of logic. The last Fu Manchu movie I know was that crime that was Peter Sellers’ last film. The Castle really did kill the character from the popular culture.
Was there hope of turning this into a retro-James Bond ripoff? Nayland Smith, at least this version of him, has no skills at all. The fight choreography at the end of the movie is wooden.
Watchability: 2 of 5. I have to disagree with Tom Servo, this is not the worst movie they ever watched. High levels of boredom, yes. A bottom tier episode, yes. But not the worst movie I’ve watched on this project. And yes, Rosalba Neri in those suits was worth 1 point all by herself.
Missing the Riffs: 1 of 5. Another of those “Never without the SOL” movies. Ok, maybe if I decide, for some reason, to watch all 5 Christopher Lee Fu Manchu movies, I could give it one more spin. But no more than that.
So who was the first Fu Manchu with a mustache? It was Warner Oland, the Swedish American actor best known as Charlie Chan. Only in America!