In the last little while I’ve been faced with some grown-up decisions to make. Pros and cons lists were made, people were considered, or not. It’s more difficult now that I have to consider more than just myself in my future. I also hit a wall with my parents’ truck. It was a small wall that will be fine when I get around to fixing it. With all this seriousness, naturally, I said “Fuck it” and decided to watch Chinese Comedy-Horror vampire films from the 80’s. Naturally. Like an adult.
In 1998 I saw part of an old Asian vampire film on TV. It was subtitled, in colour. The vampires in it had red nails, and sort of "hopped" about, and they went up to people and repeatedly stabbed them with their nails. To protect themselves, the humans wore bullet proof vests. It's all I can really remember. I don't think it was supposed to be humorous, but it might have been, I was just a kid when I saw it. I really wanted to see this film, but I couldn’t find it. Someone pointed me in the direction of the Mr Vampire series. There are 5 films made between 1986 and 1992: Mr Vampire I, Mr Vampire II, Mr Vampire III, Mr Vampire IV, and New Mr Vampire 1992. The first one and the last one are the only ones considered to be direct sequels, despite the lead actor (Lam Ching-ying) playing the “unibrow” character in 1-3 and 5.
I liked the first film most. Not that I did not enjoy the sequels; I am glad I watched the sequels, but the first is my favourite, followed closely by the last.
Mr Vampire I (1985)
|Master Kau-Note: Grey Hair|
Mr Vampire II (1986)
This one is about a vampire family (mother, father, and small boy) that is accidentally let loose in the city. The little boy is separated from his family and stays with a human girl and boy who try to hide him from their father. Much of the humour didn’t do it for me in this one. Lam Ching-ying, who played Master Kau in the previous film, is here as the owner of a medicine store. No disciples, and his daughter Gigi and his prospective son-in-law are flat characters. It was an ok film. I liked the design of the vampire family, and I hated the human family. Sorry pudgy kids, I just couldn’t care less if the vampire boy ate you.
|His "Qualifications" to be dealing with the vampires.|
Mr Vampire III (1987)
The Chinese name for this film is the Mr Spiritual Fantasy (various translations are available for this, this is the one I saw most often). It makes more sense, as Mr Vampire 3 doesn’t have vampires in it! No, all ghosts and uh...evil Taoists?
Uncle Ming is a Taoist who claims he can exorcise evil spirits from wealthy people. The start of the film shows him trying to con a family by removing two ghosts, however, these two ghosts are his friends Big Pao and Small Pao (depending on which subs you are watching). Anyway, these ghosts pretend to be exorcised so Uncle Ming can get money.
The two ghosts are the only mildly interesting characters in this film, though I did notice that they were cast in blue light so we can see that they are ghosts, but sometimes the blue lighting wasn’t really visible. I wonder if that was intentional or just some mistakes, because sometimes they had normal human colouring. The other characters were not particularly memorable; I will even go so far as to say that the unibrow Lam Ching-ying character isn’t really memorable either. The antagonist is an evil Taoist Lady who they eventually defeat. Yay.
Mr Vampire IV (1988)
The version I found was actually in good quality, unlike the last two. This one is about the Four-eyed Taoist and his Buddhist monk neighbour Master Yat-yau. Most of the hilarity stems from the relationship these two have.
|Just don’t ask...it’s taboo|
And a fox spirit tries to seduce him....except this is the late 80’s so we get this sexy furry:
|Oh yeah sexy lady...|
|He doesn't want to suck your err...well, he'd rather just kiss you |
until he gets to know you better.
A child prince is transporting a vampire with a convoy, passing the main characters. Why would a prince be transporting something that will potentially try to eat him? Who knows. But it goes without saying that the vampire gets out of the coffin and attacks the neighbours and they have to defeat it, along with all the other vampires it just turned.
Mr Vampire 1992 (V, or New Mr Vampire)Master Kau is back!...with black hair but whatever yay?
|Master Kau with black hair...it's magic don't question it.|
The disciples are here too. Yay! This story is a little weird. It’s about aborted fetuses and reincarnation. You see, if a soul is continuously aborted before it can be born, it turns into an “unholy baby”. They’re evil, that’s all you really need to know about that. An unholy baby has put itself (?) into the womb of Kau’s childhood sweet heart, Lin to be reborn in all its evilness, and her maid is there to make sure that it happens. Lin’s husband has also been bitten by a vampire and Kau has to go there to save him. Also, Kwan-yue (called Birdie in my sub), is in love with Kau and wants him badly. Desperately. She goes so far as to tie him to the bed and have Man-choi and Chau-sang spray her through the window with water to make her clothes cling to her. Awkward.
For the scene that I recall as a child, I thought that it might be this:
|Gettin' stabbed, yo.|
But the more I think about it, I’m certain that it isn’t. There was a boy protecting a girl from getting stabbed, but he had a bullet proof vest and at one point he was on the floor. This is the only time this happens and they are standing up.
There is the undertones of “Don’t abort fetuses because this is what happens: YOU MAKE EVIL SPIRITS THAT TRY TO BE REBORN WHO WE ASSUME WILL DO EVILNESS.” But you know, whatever. Also, there’s a scene early on with a small child peeing on Man-choi, and because of the different indecency laws, you see it. Might freak people out.
I didn’t have a good-quality version to watch, but there is a beautiful scene with Birdie and Lin’s sister in the woods. A red-clad procession and a white-clad procession come towards them. It’s too bad I don’t have better quality pictures, but they really are pretty.