Directed by: Ricky Lau
Starring: Ching-Ying Lam, Siu-hou Chin, Ricky Hui, Moon Lee, Billy Lau, Pauline Wong
Ricky Lau’s Mr. Vampire (1985) was not merely a request from one of the Thursday Horror Picture Show habitués, but this time the habitué in question brought me a copy of the film and told me to watch it—saying it was kind of a horror-picture version of Kung Fu Hustle (2005) (or words to that effect). So I watched it, and while I certainly won’t put this very peculiar blend of Hong Kong horror, fantasy and martial arts in the same league as Kung Fu Hustle (nor do I think the fellow who foisted it on me expected me to), I will definitely say Mr. Vampire is remarkably entertaining in its nonstop goofiness. I don’t know enough about Chinese mythology to know whether or not there’s any mythological legitimacy behind the movie’s hopping vampires and any number of other colorful—and often amusing—variations on what Western culture has accustomed us to. I also don’t care all that much, because it makes for a nice break from the traditional—and beats the hell out of vampires that sparkle in the sunlight, too. The insanely convoluted story line has our quasi-hero Man Choi (Ricky Hui) falling prey to a bite by the vampire father of a client of his master’s, putting him in a supernatural transformation that can be somehow cured with sticky rice. Complications—including, but not limited to, a sex-starved ghost girl—ensue. Some of the humor is too broad for my taste (think Three Stooges), but it’s an agreeably screwy and likable movie overall. And it spawned four sequels that might be worth pursuing.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Mr. Vampire on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.