Albert Zugsmith's Confessions of an Opium Eater focuses on the slave trade of young Chinese woman in turn of the century San Francisco. We follow a philosophical bantering adventurer (Vincent Price) as he descends into this underground world of trap doors, secret rooms, hidden passages, and lots and lots of opium. It's essentially an early 1930s adventure film meets drug movie, that presents an original and fascinating look into the Chinese slave trade. Vince Price is awesome, per usual, as the adventurer who spews out philosophical ramblings like no other, and while most of the time these discussions are endearing and timely, they can come off a little over bearing at times. That being said, this philosophical banter does pay off at the end, with a fantastic closing sequence that wraps the film up nicely. The drug sequence and subsequent chase sequence in the middle of Confessions of an Opium Eater really stands out, being stylistically impressive and revolutionary for the time period. The decision to film the entire chance sequence in slow motion due too our main protagonist being high on opium is a beautiful sight to behold, and really brings the whole sequence to life. The sound design is very bizarre, yet perfect for this Asian themed tale, being another attribute that makes Albert Zugsmith's film a unique experience. As funny as this sounds, Confessions of an Opium Eater reminded me somewhat of Carpenter's Big Trouble In Little China, as it presents this culture clash in San Francisco. I couldn't help but wonder if John Carpenter is a fan of this film, being as it could have easily served as some form of inspiration. Considering the film's off-beat sound design and drug-infused narrative, it's no surprise that Albert Zugsmith's Confessions of an Opium Eater was overlooked during its original release, but given that there is a lot to appreciate, it's no surprise that the film eventually became a cult classic.
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