In these troubled times, I find myself seeking out one of two things for a sure-fire spirit lifter: guys in masks (luchador-style or criminal-style--doesn't matter) or hopping vampires. There's a straightforwardness to either flavor of entertainment that I find comforting--there are conventions to be observed, and goddammit, I CRAVE those awesome conventions.
"Mr. Vampire" is arguably the Gold Standard of hopping vampire films and, to my eye anyway, one of the most entertaining entries in the impressive body of Hong Kong genre flicks. It's an incredibly satisfying way to spend ninety minutes escaping from what ails the world, crammed full of monsters, kung fu, and comedy. The film follows the One-Eyebrow Priest (a character who would be featured in several other films, mainly due to his KICKASSITUDE), a rural cleric who specializes in combating supernatural forces, and his two bumbling assistants Chou (a handsome yet foolish young man) and Man Choi (a buffoon cut in the classic "Three Stooges" mold) as they track down a powerful vampire who is terrorizing the village. Set in what I'm guessing is the 1920s, there are period costumes and sets to add an extra level of interest.
The comedy doesn't only work on a visual level. There are several scenes in which dialogue is used to enhance the hilarity of a particular encounter. A scene in which the priest and Man Choi attempt to behave properly during an English Tea with potential clients yields embarrassing results that span the language gap. Who knew that a comedy of errors sequence revolving around the proper way to drink coffee could have me in stitches? Upon watching it twice in a row and breaking up with laughter both times, I can only believe that this is the product of directorial genius.
For sheer bang-for-the-buck entertainment, it's hard to beat "Mr. Vampire." Cozy up with a bottle or three of your favorite beer and settle in for a lovely evening with this Hong Kong delight. Psst--you can find it serialized on YouTube right here if you crave instant gratification.
Check out the Flickr stills gallery from "Mr. Vampire" for maximum glee.