Thursday, April 18, 2019

Vanessa - Olivia Pascal (1977) - Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Lam Tsuen

Not only has Vanessa inherited her uncle's chain of brothels and his house, he also owned a plantation has fallen into her ownership, much to the anger of her uncle's illegitimate son who currently runs the place. In reality the plantation is the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden out in the Lam Tsuen valley near Tai Po.

The farm was created in 1956 by the then Kadoorie brothers, Lawrence and Horace (Lawrence was the father of the current Kadoorie family head, Michael, who in turn is the uncle of the current farm boss, Andrew McAulay) as a site to assist and train poor farmers in the area. It's well worth a visit if you get the chance (catch bus 64K from Tai Wo East Rail Station).

We get quite a few views from half way up the farm's higher slopes (in reality, the lower slopes of Tai Mo Shan) as well as a major scene filmed at one of the farm's picturesque pagodas, the Rainbow Pavilion.


The Rainbow Pavilion sits next to a waterfalls and although it's a long time since I visited (+10 years) I seem to recall the name is because of the rainbows that can sometimes be seen in the spray from the water. Anyway, there is a later scene filmed there when Vanessa's uncles son (who runs the plantation) tries to *ahem* convince her to let him keep it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Vanessa - Olivia Pascal (1977) - Harilela Compound, Kowloon Tong

One of the more surprising locations from this film (or any film for that matter) is the use of the Harilela mansion/compound as the main filming location. In Vanessa, the titular character's deceased uncle owns this house and Vanessa has now inherited it. We go back to the property several times throughout the film and are a variety of views inside and out.

The house is one of Kowloon Tong's more famous (and certainly larger) properties and sits on the corner of Waterloo and Durham Roads. The Harilela family have interests in a diverse range of businesses but are probably most well known (in HK anyway) for owning the Holiday Inn Golden Mile on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. The (recently deceased) family patriarch, Hari Harilela, started off in Hong Kong as a humble tailor before making some rather astute investments and diversifying into other areas. It was he who had this house built in 1967 (to his own specifications) with a view to having the whole family (numbering around 100 members) living under the same roof. The place is huge as a result - 82,000 sq ft - and it appears it's still not large enough for everyone as there is an annex next door used by the younger family members. You can see the GoogleEarth 3D rendered version of the property here. The SCMP also did a recent article on the house which can be viewed here. The video is worth a watch.

In the film, after being driven around most of Hong Kong by what she thinks is a taxi, Vanessa is dropped off in front of the building and our initial view is of the front drive as seen from the slope that comes up from the underground parking garage. There are a couple of striking wall mosaics on either side of the front door which can also be seen in the following images.


On entering the building, we catch of glimpse of the entrance hall with its domed ceiling and adjacent courtyards. These are details that can be discerned on the roof of the 3D rendering I linked to earlier.


At the other end of the hallway is the curved staircase to the next floor with a statue in the centre.


There are a few scenes filmed in other rooms as shown below. The first one is the Mogul room. It's the main entertaining area and has 32 gilded arches and a couple of huge dining tables. Apparently it's on the ground floor just to the right of the entrance hall. The second image I am assuming is from one of the bathrooms as it has a sunken bath.


The final image below is of the outdoor pool that sits in the south west side of the property. You can see the front drive with its mosaics/wall friezes in the background.


So, my only question is how did the film company get to use the property and would Mr Harilela have been so accommodating had they known what was going to be filmed in some of the rooms? If anyone knows the story behind the property in this film, please feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Vanessa - Olivia Pascal (1977) - King Yin Lei, Stubbs Road

As Vanessa is being taken to her Uncle's house, she is driven up Stubbs Road and past King Yin Lei. It has cropped up in all manner of films over the years so it's nice to see it here as well.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Vanessa - Olivia Pascal (1977) - The Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

Fresh off the plane, Vanessa heads to the nearby Peninsula Hotel and proceeds to ask a taxi driver if he knows the way to her Uncle's house. By pure coincidence he does and off they go. This was 1977 so behind the adverts on the other side of Salisbury Road should still be the about-to-be-demolished KCR terminus.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Vanessa - Olivia Pascal (1977) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

The 70s appears to have been a good decade for soft porn films in Hong Kong because the year after Laura Gemser was swinging around snakes in Black Cobra Woman, Olivia Pascal arrived for the filming of the German production, Vanessa.

The story follows a convent raised girl who suddenly inherits a business in Hong Kong from her deceased uncle. She heads over there to find out that the business is in fact a chain of brothels as well as a large plantation.There's a few new locations in here which I haven't seen on film before so it's worth including despite the picture quality not being the best.

The film starts off in Bavaria but its not long before we are treated to a sweeping view of Kai Tak as Vanessa's Thai airways plane comes into land on the runway from the east.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Black Cobra Woman - Laura Gemser (1976) - Lung Ha Wan, Clearwater Bay

Julius invites Eva to go back to his home island so he can show her where he was born. It's not explicit where this island is supposed to be, but the fact that they supposedly fly there means it is somewhere other than Hong Kong. In actual fact, these island scenes were filmed around the Lobster Bay promontory in Clearwater Bay at the very end of Lung Ha Wan Road. I once spent a couple of hours walking around the rocky shoreline and so am quite familiar with the terrain.

The first location is not the main Lobster Bay beach (with the old destroyed concrete ramp) but in fact a smaller one just to the south. When this film was made there was really nothing here but the Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre appeared here around 2008 (I think) and now I am not sure if there is access through there without following the route I took around the rocks.


Had I known a film had been shot here at the time I would have made an effort to at least recreate the angle used. However, as it is, in my picture above the large rock left of centre is the same one seen in the background of the screen grab. The flat rock on the left of my image is the same one Laura Gemser is lying in front of in the film.


This second image above was a bit more fortuitous. The only thing that has changed really is the amount of greenery that has sprung up. Judging from the tide, I guess the filming was done in the morning at a lower tide.


The next part of Lung Ha Wan seen on film is the flat grassy area that tops the promontory. See the shots above. These days it has been designated as a kite flying area, but actually, hardly anyone ever comes here. I had the place to myself and was here in the middle of summer (that's why the views are so clear). What I will say is that it looks as though the area has been deliberately levelled a bit more because behind Julius' (Gabriele Tinti) head is a slope that no longer exists.

Finally, the rather gruesome murder scene (actually, you don't see what happens, but the manner of Julius' death is explained to him before it happens) was filmed on the southern end of the promontory where there is a much larger stony beach. This particular section has been very popular with all manner of foreign and local movie makers over the years. It still looks pretty much like this (although with added plastic flotsam these days) as you can see from my own picture. You can reach it these days by just waking to the far side of the equestrian centre.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Black Cobra Woman - Laura Gemser (1976) - Hebe Haven, Sai Kung

After arriving at their destination, Eva lures Julius out to an uninhabited island so she can put her revenge plan into action. These shots were all filmed in Hebe Haven in Sai Kung.

Black Cobra Woman - Laura Gemser (1976) - Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui

Having walk enough to make their legs fall off, the two friends wind up on top of Ocean terminal in TST. What a shame this shot didn't start a little further to the left because it would then have captured the old KCR terminus. Although closed by then it wasn't demolished until 1978.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Black Cobra Woman - Laura Gemser (1976) - Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter

After their very long walk past Aberdeen and then through the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, the girls then go on a trip around Causeway Bay typhoon shelter. I think we are supposed to believe that they have just crossed the harbour but the fact is they just got on and off on the same side. The weird structure in the background of the top image (for those who don't know) is the entrance to the cross harbour tunnel.