Mr. Vampire (殭屍先生)
Ricky Lau, Hong Kong, 1985, DCP, 96m
Cantonese with English subtitles

Bouncing through the moonlight like demented, bloodthirsty pogo sticks, hopping vampires are one of Hong Kong cinema’s most absurd and unique sights, and this is the movie that launched the craze that spawned hundreds of films. It’s the Big Bang of hopping vampires, so to speak. Produced by Sammo Hung, it stars Lam Ching-ying (Bruce Lee’s stunt double) as a stern Taoist priest who specializes in reanimated-corpse disposal, with the assistance of Chin Siu-ho (Rigor Mortis), as his kung-fu kicking right-hand man, and comedian Ricky Hui, as his idiot assistant. Set in Republican-era China, Mr. Vampire begins with a rich man’s old ancestor (played by Yuen Wah, one of Jackie Chan’s Chinese opera school brothers) getting buried in a less-than-ideal cemetery plot. Before you can say “Black Dog’s Blood,” his corpse is bouncing up out of the ground like a blood-hungry beach ball and it’ll take a foot to the face, a cherrywood sword through the heart, and a yellow talisman pasted to his rotting forehead to make him rest in pieces. An avalanche of Canto comedy, genuine horror, and slam-bang stunts, Mr. Vampire is probably the movie people are talking about when they say how awesome and insane Hong Kong cinema is. Part of HONG KONG FOREVER! Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

Rigor Mortis / 殭屍
Juno Mak, Hong Kong, 2013, DCP, 101m
Cantonese with English subtitles

A spiritual sequel to Mr. Vampire, this moody flick is a gothic reinvention of Hong Kong’s classic hopping-vampire movies that turbo-charges the tired old formula with modern filmmaking chops. Chin Siu-ho plays himself, one of the stars of the Mr. Vampire series now fallen on hard times and forced to move into a decrepit, spooky apartment building. He’s barely put his bag down when the ghosts of twin sisters possess his body and try to force him to kill himself. Fortunately, the downstairs food stall is run by Anthony Chan (who in Mr. Vampire played Lam Ching-ying’s fellow corpse wrangler at the very beginning and very end of the film), a wandering kung-fu vampire buster. He saves Chin’s life, but real evil is afoot in the building and soon the dark halls full of slithering shadows are echoing to the sound of hopping vampires and creeping ghouls clawing their way across the ceiling. Crammed with a gallery of old-school greats, from Shaw Brothers vet Kara Hui, to famed Eighties comedian Richard Ng, this cast is a blast from Hong Kong’s creepy old past, and they fill this movie with quiet dignity. Rigor Mortis was nominated for, and won, numerous awards, and if you spend a little bit of time falling under its dank, bloody, retro spell you’ll understand why. Part of HONG KONG FOREVER! Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.