After finding the trailer for this thing on YouTube, I had to see it. Incredibly, one of my friends had a bootleg copy!
"Centipede Horror?" he asked. "If you want to see, I've got it right here. It really sucks, though."
After watching it, I must agree. This isn't a nature-horror movie, it's one of those seemingly countless "people throwing up icky things" movies that were so popular in China at the time. I've seen movies about throwing up rats, snakes, beetles, spiders, and now centipedes. Thanks, China!
Centipede Horror begins with two very bad actresses -- excuse me -- two young women going to "SE Asia" on holiday. That's how the subtitles refer to it throughout the film, "SE Asia". I'm not sure exactly where in "SE Asia" and I don't know the region well enough to hazard a guess. Every other person seems to be named "Pak" if that's any help.
Anyway, the two women meet the most evil and powerful sorcerer in all of SE Asia ... at the "grass soup" stand he runs on the side of the road. He recognizes the pendant one of the women wears and casts the horrible "centipede curse" on her. That means that centipedes swarm in the general area of her and crawl on her when helpful stage hands toss them at her from off camera. Her friends has a heart attack at the mere sight of a few centipedes and dies, too. (What a wuss.)
The cursed woman survives for a little while in the hospital, long enough for her brother, Wai Lun, to catch a plane to SE Asia and watch her die while centipedes crawl out of her wounds. Now, I don't know if this is just a bad translation or something, but her doctor is fairly adamant that she died from radiation poisoning left over from the Hiroshima bomb explosion! (?????????)
Wai Lun hangs around until his sister can be cremated and hooks up with an old friend, Pak Chee. They meet a vendor selling centipede ointment who suggest that Wai Lun's sister died of a curse. They take him completely seriously and do a little investigating. It seems that Wai Lun's grandfather was at the site of a bad fire that occurred around fifty years before. Wai Lun and Pak Chee go to the site of the fire and run into the Evil Wizard! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! EW says the fire was horrible and totally wigs out at the memory of it. He notices Wai Lun is now wearing his sister's necklace and vows vengeance against him, too.
See, Wai Lun's grandfather married into the wealthiest family in EW's village, fifty years ago. Granddad promptly began an affair with EW's wife. (They have sex in front of the baby!) Granddad's wife caught them in the act one night and Granddad, attempting to flee, shoved his wife into something hard enough to kill her. EW's wife freaked out and started beating on Granddad, and he ended up shoving her into something hard enough to kill her, too! Well, gosh, Granddad couldn't let anybody find out about that, so he set the village on fire.
EW, standing in the smoking cinders of the village, vowed to become an evil sorcerer and exact vengeance. (In case you were wondering: Yes, we do get to see EW finding his baby's charred corpse. This is a Chinese movie, after all.)
Meanwhile (and I'm not exactly sure where in the narrative this happened ... the movie didn't encourage me to remember it very well) Wai Lun and Pak Chee have met an extremely fat priest who keeps the souls of two little boys as his adopted sons. Wai Lun and Pak Chee totally perv on the guy exorcising a Scorpion Curse (sheesh!) from a naked woman. This involves a lot of chanting and the two ghosts entering the woman's mouth and vagina to chase out the curse, which has the result of making the woman puke up scorpions.
EW can't curse Wai Lun because he's wearing that necklace, which was made of cobra venom (plot point!) and wards off evil magic. (His sister had taken it off when she was centipeded to death earlier). Besides, we don't want to see a man puking up centipedes, we want to see it happen to a sexy, young woman! So EW hocks a big, glowing lugey into Pak Chee's mouth, which Centipede Curses her.
We can tell Pak Chee has become evil since she keeps trying to have sex with Wai Lun. Eventually, he figures out that she wants in his pants and they start making out, during which she removes the necklace. Oh, no! EW sends hordes of centipedes to "frighten and kill" Wai Lun. So, finally, at one hour and twelve minutes, we get centipede action!
Ha! Fooled ya! Instead of centipede action, we get a good wizard showing up to do a really weird magic battle with EW. I think Wai Lun and Pak Chee had met the good wizard before, so I guess he was looking out for them. GW animates five chicken skeletons and astrally projects them at EW, so that their clucking may prevent him from concentrating on the Centipede Curse. No, really. EW destroys all five chicken skeletons. GW sets one of the skeletons on fire and tries to Ha Dou Ken EW with it. EW's centipede totem blows out the fire. EW laughs a lot, so I guess that means he won.
The centipedes crawl into Wai Lun and Pak Chee's room, which makes Wai Lun jump all over the place and display his tiny whities to us. During all the commotion, Wai Lun spills some tea onto his necklace and a cobra crawls out of it. Remember? The necklace is made of cobra venom. GW sends the cobra through time and space to bite EW's head, make him spout gallons of blood, and burn to death.
Pak Chee wakes up and pukes up some centipedes. Wai Lun helpfully offers to get her some water and the movie ends with the suggestion that -- wait for it -- the curse is not truly lifted! Eeeeeeeek!
The entire point of this movie is the one scene where Pak Chee is puking up centipedes. I'm certain the movie was sold on the idea of how much it would freak out an audience to know that some poor actress had live centipedes in her mouth. It is pretty gross; some of the suckers are trying to crawl back in! You can see the actress trying to push them out with her tongue. They aren't little centipedes, either.
Aside from that one money scene, well ... if you really, really love to watch guys chant, you'll love Centipede Horror.