director Chung Sun
Pretty pleasing Shaw Brothers Wuxia flick verging towards horror. Human Lanterns has the feel of a traditional ghost story revenge fable, but it’s luridly colorful, packed with action, blood, gore, and a crazy guy in a hairy skull mask. What’s not to like?
Ultimately, a tale of revenge, it also plays out a bit Yojimbo-like. Two big shots in a small village vie and complete with one another in many ways, but especially in the art of lantern making. The more evil of the two seeks out a talented craftsman who he had scarred in the past to help him deliver the winning lantern. The scarred craftsman decides to employ an ancient technique that requires human skin for his lanterns and sets about kidnapping and murdering the women in the two competitors’ lives, setting them more and more against one another.
The set design and camerawork are excellent, and the use of color does echo of the hues of Mario Bava.