Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Very freely based upon the book by Thomas DeQuincey, Confessions of an Opium Eater is set in San Francisco during the Tong Wars of the 1800s. Lotus is one of a group of women kidnapped from China and brought to the United States, where they are to be traded in exchange for precious opium. Fortunately, Lotus and her compatriots are rescued by mysterious benefactors and are spirited away. Soon after, DeQuincey sneaks into Chinatown and contacts a merchant by the name of Chin Foon. Both men share the mark of the Moon Serpent, signifying that they work for the enigmatic Ling Tang, who is the mastermind behind the human auctions. Foon instructs DeQuincey to locate Lotus. He finds her but tries to escape with her, rather than handing her over to Foon. His treachery is discovered, and he admits that he is working for both sides in the Tong conflict. He escapes and, stumbling through the bowels of Chinatown, discovers many other bizarre secrets. He also learns that another of Tang's employees, Ruby Low, is not as loyal as supposed. DeQuincey continues prowling around Chinatown; obviously, he has some sort of plan in mind - but what is it? And who is he really working for?
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama
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Vincent Price
as Gilbert De Quincey
Linda Ho
as Ruby Low
Richard Loo
as George Wah
Philip Ahn
as Ching Foon
June Kim
as Lotus
Caroline Kido
as Lo Tsen
Terence de Marney
as Scrawny Man
Gerald Jann
as Fat Chinese
Vivianne Manku
as Catatonic Girl
Miel Saan
as Look Gow
John Mamo
as Auctioneer
Eleanor Boardman
as Small-town Girl
Victor Sen Yung
as Wing Young
Florence Vidor
as Herself
King Vidor
as Himself
Ralph Ahn
as Wah Chan
Alicia Li
as Ping Toy
Jo Anne Miya
as Dancing Girl
Geri Hoo
as Dancing Girl
as Dancing Girl
Carol Russell
as Slave Girl
Vincent Barbi
as Captain
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Critic Reviews for Confessions of an Opium Eater

All Critics (3)

Leaves you high for at least a half hour after viewing.

Full Review… | April 26, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

(The) distributor's alternate title SOULS FOR SALE...advertises the film's sinister proceedings right from the opening credits

March 9, 2004

Puts to shame anything posing as serious philosophical thought in the Matrix films.

Full Review… | June 2, 2003
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Confessions of an Opium Eater

The only similarity this bears to De Quincy's "Confessions Of An English Opium Eater" is that both characters have the name Thomas De Quincy. The novel is an autobiography of the effects on opium on one man's life, while the film is a Vincent Price lead "Lady From Shanghai" like twisting film noir. Price's De Quincy is a sailor whose voice over comes as a Chandler meets De Quincy poetry, and comes to San Francisco after a long stay in "the orient", where he involves himself in the dubious world of human trafficking, particularly brides in China Town. The film opens with a brutal scene involving screaming women thrown in net like freshly caught tuna, and then a violent battle between two gangs on the beach as they try to deliver the kidnapped women to their fate. Albert Zugsmith produced classics like "The Incredible Shrinking Man", "Written On The Wind", and "Touch Of Evil", along with directing many exploitation flicks, which this film veers into from time to time. It is more in the Siejun Suzuki brand of wildly inventive, free wheeling pulpy expressionism, than Ed Wood ineptness fortunately. Despite the title the only scene involving opium is when Price takes some in order to get close to the women trafficking ring, and has a particularly impressive Lynchian circa Elephant-Man hallucination scene (which is worth price of admission alone), however the best scene comes when Price wakes up surrounded by guards and has to make a slow motion(cus he's high on opium) dash out of the den, and to the rooftops of china town. The scene is is also completely silent, and trully marvelous in it's execution. I know slow motion action sequences where Greogiran chanting plays over sweat glistened A-listers shooting each other in mid air, but in Zugsmith's hands it's like seeing it for the first time. The plot is not particularly strong (why De Quincy is saving the girl, or what he is doing in China town at all, has many twists and turns, and leaves some gaps to be filled), but the direction, the suspense, and especially Price's performance make lines that would sound preposterous almost Terrance Malick like in their stream of consciousness, sound as if he says them everyday. Such are the gifts of Price. I had was very pleased with this movie, that can be found easily on Youtube, though you might want to get a good copy to take in the fullness of Zugsmith's frames. There is a dreaminess and nightmarishness to all of the scenes, like Opium was poured over a script to a lesser film, and this movie stumbled out of a smoke ridden room, singing of dancing girls emerging from cages, being swept to sea from sewer drains, and teetering on the edge of rooftops with vertigo at a snails pace, crashing through windows, and feeling "the abbacus of fate has your number". Good times.

Joseph Sylvers
Joseph Sylvers

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