About me:Note: I am not Me Me Lai nor do I have any contact with her. I do not own/claim to own any of the media content on this page, no copyright infringement is intended.
'The daughter of an English father and a Burmese mother, Me Me Lai was born in Burma circa 1951 (several interviews and articles place her as being aged 20 in August 1971). Little is known about her childhood. She moved to London, England aged around 12 and began working as an actress in her teens, appearing in bit parts on television and in low-budget British films, most notably in Au Pair Girls (1972). Also in 1972, she appeared in Il Paese del sesso selvaggio (aka Man From Deep River, Deep River Savages), the first of several 'cannibal' movies by Italian directors. After that role she returned to England, where she became the hostess of the popular game shows The Golden Shot and Sale of the Century. She returned as the lead female native girl in Ruggero Deodato's Ultimo Mondo Cannibale (aka Last Cannibal World, Jungle Holocaust) and Umberto Lenzi's Mangiati Vivi! (aka Eaten Alive!, The Emerald Jungle). Of her small movie roles, she is perhaps best known as a Chinese hooker in the Peter Sellers comedy Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). During the 1980s she was again cast in various small TV roles before she left the movie business and she has not been heard from since.' - adapted from an IMDb Mini Biography by Matthew Patay
Welcome all, this tribute to ex-actress Me Me Lai (sometimes credited as Me Me Lay) exists because in her 14 year career she starred in some of the most controversial, strange, twisted and frankly screwed up films ever made. She has also worked with notable actors & directors and had very diverse & demanding roles. In the years after her retirement she has gained cult status despite only appearing in a handful of films and having limited screen time (especially in early roles). In some cases, her screen time clocks in at less than a minute! This is probably a reason why she has never received enough credit as an actress, another being she has little dialogue in her films. She's mute in Last Cannibal World and is not seen speaking (but literally has the last laugh) in Crucible of Terror, a disjointed film in which she is encased in plaster and then molten bronze by cult God Mike Raven whilst still alive; madness! Her final film - The Element of Crime - probably is the best example of her acting ability.
However, I doubt Umberto Lenzi cast her in Man From Deep River back in '72 based on her acting. Her exceptional exotic beauty and charm was enough. In the 3 cannibal movies she appeared in (her 3 most popular/infamous roles), she's 'raped', tortured, humiliated, wears nothing but a furry thong and - in Last Cannibal World - she's hacked into tiny bits and eaten by her cannibal chums. She must be praised for having the, ahem, guts to appear fully naked in the unforgiving climate of the Malaysian & Philippine jungles and to act in films that pushed the barriers of taste and decency. She's definitely the most glamorous aspect in these films which are full of sleaze, gore and unacceptable animal cruelty. Ironically, her reputation as a 'Cannibal Queen' is a misnomer; despite appearing in 3 cannibal films, she's never actually seen eating human flesh, and is only a cannibalistic native in 1 film (where it is her who is eaten for helping Westerners escape). The other roles are as a sympathetic tribe/cult member and as one of the 'good guys'. However, the one common theme in the 3 cannibal shockers is that she inevitably dies; a strange thing to happen in Man From Deep River, considering she & Ivan Rassimov were already signed up for a sequel (which was delayed and eventually became Last Cannibal World).
As for memories of her by co-stars/directors who shot the cannibal films she starred in, there are a few interesting anecdotes; in an interview for the Shriek Show DVD of Eaten Alive!, the late Ivan Rassimov claims he had a good friendship with her over the years and this lead to speculation that they may have been romantically involved, especially due to their love scenes in Man From Deep River. In Ruggero Deodato's audio-commentary for the Shriek Show release of Ultimo Mondo Cannibale (re-titled 'Jungle Holocaust' for some reason), he mentions that Me Me was a fearless actress who was not put off by snakes and other jungle perils. During a break in filming, Deodato recalls her sitting on what looked like a rock but turned out to be a huge snake! He also claims that in one scene she was badly cut by the sharp jungle grass; this is not suprising considering she is completely naked throughout most of the movie. Deodato also mentions that Me Me was married to a martial arts instructor at the time and he even flew out to Malaysia to see what was happening... Christ only knows what he thought was going on!
Due to her being bollock-naked in all of her cannibal movie roles, it's amusing to note that between 'Man' in '72 and 'World' in '77, she appears to have gained breast implants; something which adds to the absurdity and legend of the Italian cannibal sub-genre. A cannibal babe with the most Western attribute possible... fake boobies.
Moving away from the cannibal films, the other films are decent enough, with Au Pair Girls being suprisingly good. It was her initial cameos in TV shows such as Paul Temple, Hine and Jason King - with only the latter being available on DVD - that lead to the film roles. However, many people who remember seeing her on Sale of the Century & The Golden Shot didn't know about the nude roles and were quite suprised at the degree of nudity, violence and downright nihilistic Hell of Lenzi & Deodato's jungle horrors.
Her disappearance from acting/TV is uncertain, no one really knows a reason why and there's little information on the Internet about her activity since the mid 1980s. One claim is that she became a bodybuilder (and excelled at this) but no further information can be found. However, I have been told she's alive and well and hasn't suffered a sticky end in the jungle like in one of her cannibal films, although she has distanced herself from her past films.
Who I'd like to meet:
'So ok, altogether Me Me Lai did only star in 3 cannibal movies but somehow her exotic beauty, her somewhat naive facial expression and not at least her willingness to appear in the nude and do sleaze made her a natural, perverted 1970's style jungle princess, an icon of the cannibal genre and maybe - besides constant co-star Ivan Rassimov - the only face identifiable with the cannibal film.' - Mike Haberfelner, March 2006.
The first 10 minutes of Au Pair Girls  - check out that cheesy theme tune!
...and yes, that is Coronation Street's 'Mike Baldwin' (actor Johnny Briggs) who plays the cabbie who gets to meet the 4 lovely ladies.
The opening credits of Licensed to Love and Kill with 'Love Is a Fine Thing' by Simon Bell.
'In retrospect, Me Me Lai might be best described as an icon of her time, of the anything-goes underbelly of the 1970's, when one still could be several things at once: Queen of sleaze and exploitation, mainstream gameshow hostess and artfilm actress.' - Mike Haberfelner, March 2006.......
Music'Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio' main theme by Daniele Patucchi. The melody in this is used throughout the movie, played on different instruments and at different tempos. It really is beautiful and is one of my favourite themes from the Italian exploitation & horror genre. Surely the full soundtrack to this movie is lying in a vault somewhere. An official release would be most welcome. For a VHS audio rip, please see my blog.Nice re-edit of Forbrydelsens Element set to Lucky by Radiohead.
MoviesForbrydelsens Element aka The Element of Crime  (as Meme Lai) - Kim
Mangiati Vivi! aka Eaten Alive!, Doomed to Die (USA), The Emerald Jungle (USA: video title)  - Mowara
Licensed to Love and Kill aka The Man From S.E.X., Undercover Lover (USA titles)  - Madam Wang
Revenge of the Pink Panther  - Chinese lady of easy virtue #2
Ultimo Mondo Cannibale aka Last Cannibal World, Jungle Holocaust (USA: DVD box title), Cannibal (UK: pre-cert video title), Carnivorous (USA: reissue title), The Last Survivor (USA: cut version)  - Pulan
Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio aka (The) Man From (The) Deep River, Deep River Savages (UK: cut DVD title), Sacrifice! (USA)  (as Me Me Lay) - Marayå
Au Pair Girls aka The Young Playmates (USA: poster title), Mother's Helpers (USA: unspecified)  (as Me Me Lay) - Nan Lee
She'll Follow You Anywhere aka Passion Potion (USA: DVD title), Das Geheimnis meines Parfüms (West Germany)  (as Me Me Lay) - Bride
Crucible of Terror aka Unholy Terror (USA: DVD title)  (as Me Me Lay) - Chi-San
Old VHS Crucible of Terror trailer v.1
Old VHS Crucible of Terror trailer v.2
Au Pair Girls trailer
Man From Deep River trailer
Man From Deep River teaser (rare US Drive-in promo)
Last Cannibal World trailer
Licensed to Love and Kill trailer
Eaten Alive! trailer
The Element of Crime trailer
TelevisionThe Optimist (1 episode) Healthy Body, Unhealthy Mind (1983/5/5) - Karate Girl
Spearhead (2 episodes) Another Happy Day (1981/8/13) * - Mimi
Have a Happy Day (1981/8/6) * - Mimi
Jason King (2 episodes) All That Glisters: Pt. 2 (1971/12/15) * - Xanthe
All That Glisters: Pt. 1 (1971/12/8) * - Xanthe
Hine (1 episode) Little White Lady (1971/5/26) * - Miss Mini
The Golden Shot (gameshow hostess: unknown number of episodes 1970-?)
Sale of the Century (gameshow hostess: unknown number of episodes 1970-?)
Omnibus (1 (BAFTA-winning) episode) A Requiem For Modigliani (1970/11/22)
Paul Temple (1 episode) Murder in Munich: Pt. 1 (1970/7/12) * - Masseuse
Origami (introduction, as Me Me Lay: at least 1 episode, 1970/?/?)
* = available on DVD
* = not archived/lost
There was more to Me Me than just being a cannibal movie pin-up. She was a gameshow hostess for The Golden Shot, Sale of the Century and various other small presenting roles in the early 1970s, including an origami programme on BBC with Robert Harbin. It was her popularity from TV that paved the way for her early films. The list above is by no means complete; it is thought that there are more small (possibly uncredited) roles in obscure pulp-crime classics from 1970-1972. However, it is unlikely these will ever be seen. Many tapes have been wiped, binned or lost, especially if the shows were in black & white. The recent trawl of the BBC archive for the surviving Paul Temple episodes only returned about 16 out of 52, with Me Me Lai's sole appearance not amongst them. Furthermore, The Golden Shot was broadcast live and not taped... only slivers of footage exist of it.Jason King, 1971: in All That Glisters Pt. 1
BooksNo books but there is yet another entry in a diverse and varied career. How about a little bit of theatre? After game shows & cannibal horror movies, it would seem unlikely someone would do a National Theatre production but obviously not. Me Me starred in David Hare's Plenty in the role of Mrs Aung, a play which also starred Kate Nelligan, Julie Covington, Stephen Moore & Paul Freeman. It opened at the Lyttelton Theatre on 12th April 1978 and proved to be very successful, and in 2001 - the Lyttelton's 25th anniversary - it was voted the best NT play of 1978.
Plenty eventually became a film in 1985 (directed by Fred Schepisi) and starred Meryl Streep, Charles Dance, Ian McKellen, Sting & Sam Neill; the role of Mrs Aung was played by Pik-Sen Lim.Plenty rehearsals, 1978: Me Me with co-star Kristopher Kum.Plenty, 1978: Me Me on stage with co-star Kate Nelligan.
HeroesUmberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Ivan Rassimov, Massimo Foschi, Paola Senatore, Janet Agren, Robert Kerman, anybody who was ever involved in the writing, acting, directing or production of the old Italian horror movies and most importantly, the loyal maniacs who keep the memory and spirit of these movies alive.
6 songs • 10/14/2009
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- Sep 10, 2011 11:17 AM TV Times 22/05/71 article
- Apr 12, 2010 9:00 PM Man From Deep River & Last Cannibal World 'soundtracks'
- Mar 5, 2010 11:23 PM Playmen (Italy) August 1972 photoshoot
- Oct 17, 2009 12:25 AM Me Me Lai Interview from 1971
- Oct 17, 2009 12:22 AM What is your favourite film/TV show starring Me Me Lai?
- Status: Divorced
- Here for: Networking
- Hometown: London
- Height: 5' 4"
- Zodiac Sign: Aries
- Children: Proud parent
- Occupation: Ex-actress