Written by: Carroll Jenkins on April 26th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1985
Director: Ricky Lau (Koon Wai)
Producer: Sammo Hung
Cast: Chin Siu Ho, Lam Ching Ying, Moon Lee Choi-Fung, Ricky Hui
Approximate running time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Cantonese DTS, Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Cantonese (Dolby Digital – Original mono)
English DTS, English (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround)
DVD Release: 20th Century Fox
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
Synopsis: A mortuary owner must stop a powerful vampire while also dealing with one assistant who has been bitten and may turn into a vampire, and another who has been bewitched by an amourous ghost.
Released hot on the heels of Ghostbusters, this film presents a similar mix of comedy, action, and chills. 1985 opened the floodgates of this horror comedy cycle, with Return Of The Living Dead, Fright Night, and Re-animator released this same year. Mr. Vampire builds upon the earlier Sammo Hung film Encounter Of The Spooky Kind, but is slicker and with more emphasis on thrills and chills than martial arts while still mainting a high level of (sometimes low) comedy.
It is also thematically similar to Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore) where the cemetary attendent and his assistant regard the living dead as a common and usual occurrence. That doesn’t mean they can’t be bothersome. Lam Ching-Ying was so popular (and type-cast) that he revised the role for Mr. Vampire 2 through 5. The supporting cast are all great as well.
It is important to note that Chinese vampires are not like the European variety, but more like zombies. They have to hop due to rigor mortis, and most are blind due to rotting of the eyeballs. Therefore they detect the living by their breath. How long can you hold yours?
The Fox Wave 4 releases were the first to feature original language mono soundtracks and genuine subtitles (not dubtitles) for all 5 releases. This is a superb release with uncut anamorphic OAR widescreen, 5 soundtrack options, and a budget price.
Extras include the original theatrical trailer and newly edited (and awful) trailers for this and the other Wave 4 releases (Knockabout, Iron Fisted Monk, Battle Creek Brawl, The Postman Fights Back).
Mr. Vampire is a great horror comedy of the eighties in a wonderful, purist friendly edition. Better get it before it dies an unnatural death (goes out of print).