Color, 1992, 89 mins. 40 secs.
Directed by Danny Lee and Billy Tang
Starring Danny Lee, Simon Yam, Kent Cheng, Emily Kwan, Eric Kei, Parkman Wong
Unearthed Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), Tai Seng (DVD) (US R0 NTSC), XT Video (DVD) (Austria R2 PAL) / WS (1.78:1)

Fans of the The Untold Storymore extreme end of Hong Kong cinema known as Category III (the The Untold Storystrongest rating and one often associated now with insane levels of sex and/or violence) have long had to suffer through substandard transfers and censorship edits during their cinematic treasure hunting, and one crucial title that's suffered most famously is 1992's serial killer shocker Dr. Lamb. From VHS to VCD to DVD, it's been a very messy looking film for decades but not enough to blunt the outrageousness of its most extreme moments or the commitment of star Simon Yam (Election, Naked Killer). Now on the heels of essential uncut restorations of titles like The Untold Story, Robotrix, and Ebola Syndrome, Dr. Lamb has finally gotten a first-class release courtesy of Unearthed Films on separate Blu-ray and DVD editions that finally give the film its full due.

At night, the streets are a very dangerous terrain for women as unstable taxi driver Lam (Yam) prowls looking for victims. Rain sets him off in particular, and he takes photos of his acts of mutilation for posterity. Meanwhile Inspector Lee (The Killer's Lee) heads the homicide squad in charge of the case, with photos providing a clue to getting their man who has a deranged proclivity for necrophilia The Untold Storyand keeping severed body parts. The Untold StoryHowever, once the suspect is in custody the horror has just started as, after much coercion, we see the full extent of his crimes in flashback revealing a bottomless pit of psychosis in action.

Inspired by a real-life serial killer apprehended in 1982 who photographed and taped his own activities (which inspired two earlier features), Dr. Lamb fits the common Category III model of mashing together a multitude of tones that can be either jarring or exhilarating depending on your own tastes. There's a fair amount of broad comedy that makes the moments of extreme hacking and slicing even more upsetting when they occur, and the prosthetic work here walks the line between nauseating and amusingly creative (including some breast gags that would make Andy Milligan proud). It's also one of the wettest-looking films of its era with many scenes either taking place during rainfall or having its actors drenched in water and/or sweat, giving it a creepy veneer that really shines during the taxi interior scenes complete with stylized colorful lighting.

Those visual attributes really get a chance to shine through on the Unearthed release, which is advertised as a 2K scan of the uncut version of the film. The source isn't specified but it's in great shape in terms of detail and color with just some The Untold Storyminor speckles on and off in terms of damage. The Untold StoryThe LPCM 2.0 Cantonese and Mandarin mono tracks both sound great with no significant issues (apart from some baked-in verbal censorship that's always been there), and optional yellow English subtitles are provided. A new audio commentary by Ultra Violent's Art Ettinger and Cinema Arcana's Bruce Holecheck functions as an informative companion of sorts to their track for The Untold Story as they cover the ins and outs of discovering Cat III films in the '80s, the previous film adaptations, the real-life crime case, and the censorship history of the film. In "Lamb to the Slaughter" (20m22s), filmmaker Gilbert Po talks about his role in kicking the project off by bringing it to Magnum Films, his time in the industry just out of film school, and his status as an expatriate in Hong Kong at the time. "Three Times the Fear" (20m33s) features James Mudge covering the height of the Cat III wave and its many exhilarating, sometimes shocking highlights as well as the major players who made the magic happen including Yam who has since gone on to more "respectable" roles... for the most part. In "Cut and Run" (16m9s), Sean Tierney a.k.a. The Silver Spleen gives his own take on the film and its context within the period including details about the photo process that trips up our maniac and the Hong Kong lifestyle at the time that could allow acts like this to occur undetected. Finally an Atomic TV interview with Yam (7m58s) at Baltimore's Otakon 2000 Anime Convention is a really fun, casual chat with the star about his wide variety of roles from cops to romantic leads to psychos. He also shares a few stories from his time in the trenches like nearly getting killed making Bullet in the Head. Also included are the trailers for this film, The Untold Story, Evil Dead Trap, A Serbian Film, and Premutos, so prepare for a shower if you do all of 'em in a row. An insert booklet features "The Doctor Is In!," a text interview with Yam conducted by Calum Waddell covering his Cat III work, Election, Johnny To, and more.

Reviewed on August 29, 2022.