The Psychotronic Film Society’s regular Wednesday night series of underappreciated feature films from around the world continues with one of the most obscure movies they have ever unearthed. Made in 1980, “The Happenings” (aka “Ye Che”) is a stunning example of the Hong Kong new wave cinema movement that has never been released in the West. A breathlessly exhilarating blast of dark, nihilistic teen mayhem, “The Happenings” is essentially unknown outside of China, and barely known there.
Written and directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Ho Yim, the film’s title refers to a group of bored, disaffected and violent Hong Kong youths who are so disgusted with what they view as a fundamentally flawed and hostile societal structure that they spend their time flouting decorum, rules and laws in an antagonistic display of contempt for adult responsibilities.
Set over the course of one long night of drinking, dancing, vandalism and thievery, “The Happenings” sits somewhat cheekily alongside such bona fide classics of anti-authoritarian misanthropy as Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” and Alex Cox’s “Repo Man,” with flashes of the kind of absurdist, tension-fueled humor displayed in Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild” and Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours.”
Boasting a twisted, unpredictable plot and naturalistic performances by a tight ensemble cast, “The Happenings” is one of those rare films with the power to leave a gleeful smile on viewer’s faces even as they find themselves shocked or repulsed by the behavior displayed onscreen. The PFS will screen the full, uncut version of this lost gem, in the original spoken Cantonese, with English subtitles. $7 admission, with an 8 p.m. showtime (for mature viewers only).