Mr. Vampire [Geung see sin sang] (1985) Review

If you think you know all about vampires prepare to be amazed as the latest epic release from Eureka Entertainment Mr. Vampire turns everything you know upside down.

Released in 1985 from martial arts master Golden Harvest this hilarious horror comedy rewrote the book, defining a whole new genre while defying everything that had gone before it.

Combining action, comedy and the supernatural Mr Vampire brought forth a wave of jiangshi, also known as hopping vampire, movies to China in the 80’s that ran and ran. A huge critical and commercial success at the time it spawned at least four sequels and countless spin-offs and imitations.

Directed and co-wrote by Ricky Lau the film brings the hopping corpses of Chinese folklore to the fore. Mixing elements of classic zombies and vampires these creatures are so much more than both with their own look and mythology making the film seem completely unique to anyone unaware of jiangshi and adding another monster the the roster of classic creatures.

The story is set in Republican-era China where Lam Ching-ying stars as Master Kau an expert in the paranormal and the teacher to two idiotic yet eager students Man Choi (famous comedian Ricky Hui) and Chou (Fist of Legend’s Chin Siu-ho).

After exhuming a corpse for reburial Master Kau discovers that the cadaver has transformed into a hopping vampire. When the creature gets loose calamity and chaos ensues as the bumbling disciples attempt to destroy the beats before it attacks its granddaughter (80s Hong Kong action icon Moon Lee).

Throw in the mix a love sick ghost, a torture happy official, a rice dilemma and multiple mistaken identities and you have a hugely entertaining experience guaranteed to please any audience from East to West.

Created from childhood stories heard by producer and legendary action hero Sammo Hung and a collection of supernatural tales called Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Qing Dynasty writer Pu Songling, Mr Vampire is a distinctly Chinese horror film yet it embraces Western ideas and motifs from other horror movies.

Insanely iconic for fans of the paranormal the most enjoyable part is learning the many rules and practices needed to stop the hopping vampires and beguiling ghosts which include the use of glutinous rice, enchanted ink and other weapons and charms to subdue and kill the creatures.

The beasts are brought to life with some great special effects and make up for the time and these slammed together with expert fight choreography make for some sensational set pieces. Balancing all the elements perfectly Mr Vampire races along keeping up the laughs, screams and cheers throughout.

One of the top horror comedies of all time Mr Vampire is an essential purchase for all horror and Kung Fu fans especially any unaware of its existence and its sure to hop its way into the heart of anyone who watches it.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ★ ½ 

Trailer:

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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