Mr. Vampire (1985)
Produced By: Sammo Hung
Screenplay By: Sze to Cheuk hong, Barry Wong, Wong Ying
Casts: Lam Ching Ying, Ricky Hui, Chin Siu Ho, Moon Lee
The first of the vampire series, the 1985 Hong Kong movie Mr. Vampire became a popular hit and came out from the box office grossing a total of HK$20 million. It also opened a whole new genre of Chinese vampire horror comedies. Unlike western vampires, Chinese vampires are called Jian Shi, which are mindless creatures hopping around in Qing Dynasty Official robes and can be put to a sleep by sticking a yellow paper talisman with a taoist spell written on it, and can be evaded by holding your breathe, as jian shis were depicted to spot you through your breathe.
The Chinese version of vampires have become a household name in Asia ever since Mr. Vampire, and its international reputation also eventually became widely known. From the period 1986 to 1991, more than 100 vampire related films and TV series were created in Hong Kong alone, but none have managed to surpass its predecessor in its originality and comedic expressions, thus making it a classic among Hong Kong movies.
The Taoist priest Kau (Lam Ching-ying) is hired to solve the problem of a reburial. A rich family has been suffering from bad luck, given the fact that their ancestors were buried on purpose so that to defy all feng shui rules and act like a curse upon the living. Assisted by his much too clumsy apprentices, Chou (Chin Siu-ho) and Man Choi (Ricky Hui Koon-ying), the priest digs out the coffin and sees that the body looks unaffected. Realizing it is in the process of becoming a vampire, Kau tries to correct the mistake, but it is too late. The grandfather rises and his first victim is his own son.
Now, instead of having to deal with one vampire, Kau has to fight with its new creations as well. After taking down his son, the grandfather attempts to bite his beautiful granddaughter (Moon Lee). Meanwhile, instead of helping their Master, the gawky assistants complicate things even more. Man Choi is bitten and infected, being in danger of becoming a vampire as well, and Chou is seduced by an evil temptress and is close to losing his soul. Curing his students, while fighting an army of vampires is not the easiest job for Kau, but who else could be able to eliminate evil and restore peace?
The Vampire franchise is still a hit today and Lam Ching Ying, with his role as the Taoist priest who fends off the vampires, became a household name and continued to make vampire films and TV series until 1997, in which he was diagnosed with cancer and died the same year. Superstitious thoughts still holds in the Hong Kong movie industry that actors of ghost and horror films usually die prematurely. Two scriptwriters of Mr.Vampire, Barry Wong and Wong Ying, also died within 6 years since the publishing of the movie, causing a widespread circulation of haunting rumors.
Nevertheless, Mr.Vampire is a film that all Vampire fans will not miss, filled with Chinese folklore and horror scenes with a comedic effect, Mr.Vampire is a lighthearted horror-comedy that will offer you the laughs.