This week’s photo theme: CREATURE FEATURES. Ghosts, demons, monsters, aliens, and indefinably uncanny entities, all from the annals of Chinese literature, film and art.
Let’s kick off this series — the day before Halloween, appropriately enough — with a still from a vintage Chinese monster flick: Ricky Lau’s 1985 directorial debut and breakout success, Mr. Vampire. The synopsis:
The planned reburial of a village elder goes awry as the corpse resurrects into a hopping, bloodthirsty vampire, threatening mankind. Therefore, a Taoist Priest and his two disciples attempt to stop the terror.
Mr. Vampire was an unexpected box office success, and as these kinds of things do, spawned four sequels directed by Lau, a series of spinoffs with, and English version and a theatrical version. Radii film columnist Daniel Weaver recently caught Mr. Vampire at a Chinese film retrospective in Washington, D.C., and compares its mainstream slapstick vibe with another of the festival’s selections, Lou Ye’s arthouse classic Suzhou River:
The turnout tells the tale: the Suzhou River crowd was predominantly Chinese. The audience for Ricky Lau’s 1985 martial arts classic Mr. Vampire, on the other hand, was larger and notably more diverse. Lou Ye’s cinematographic experiment falls firmly into the category of art cinema, while Mr. Vampire, cultish in the extreme, communicates on a very different wavelength, with a comedic tone that is physical and obvious, stilted and overly staged.
A crowd-pleaser, then, and maybe some good popcorn fare for your Halloween at home. Check the trailer below, and watch a sketchy pirated version of the film here if you so wish.
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