Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Musical Vampire – review

Director: Wilson Tong

Release date: 1990

Contains spoilers

Whilst I know I shouldn’t I rather like Yin Yue Jiang Shi. It was silly and I guess I was in absolutely the right mood when I watched it. After all it was low budget and had some pretty standard kyonsi hunting tropes. All of which tend to fail because of a meddling with the vampire that made little sense plot-wise… but even so I still enjoyed it.

It begins with assistants Hoo (Kar-Sing Lee) and Keung (Xin Xin Xiong) messing with a couple of corpses so that they can spar with them and bet on the outcome. All this goes on until the Master (Shui-Fan Fung) appears and they have to herd the corpses back to their families. Along the way the master sends Hoo on his own to deliver the elder Yam to his family. En Route he uses the corpse to play tricks on a young woman named Chu-Chu (Loletta Lee), the corpse’s granddaughter, and then the corpse is stolen.

experiment on corpse
This is where things alter in the film, lore wise, and it was also the bit that made little sense. The corpse has been stolen for a French scientist who is experimenting on the body in order to win the Nobel Prize! (Stick with it) He injects it with some form of chemical and then removes the controlling spell scroll from the corpse’s forehead. It comes alive and the scientist and thieves are killed for their trouble.

the vampire
Hoo, meanwhile, has claimed to have delivered the corpse but, when in town, the Master hears that it has not been delivered. An elaborate plan is hatched to disguise Hoo as the corpse, deliver him, bury him, rescue him and then find the missing corpse – of course at this point they are unaware that it has become a vampire. Said vampire is running amok, killing people. A Taoist Master (Ching-Ying Lam) has tried to stop it and failed as the techniques he has used have had no impact on the vampire.

neck brace fails to protect
By the time the family discover that the grave of their elder has been robed (rescuing Hoo) the police begin to connect the attacks with the missing corpse. The bungling herders are jailed but, eventually released and given three days in which to retrieve the corpse. Meanwhile the cops hand out a new invention amongst their number – metal neck piece. It doesn’t work as the vampire simply bites through the metal.

fascinated by music
Through the herders and the Taoist we discover that the vampire really is immune to all the Taoist tricks. It can go out in daylight, it can survive beheading and prayer scrolls do not stop it. Luckily its victims don’t seem to be rising as well. The only thing that seems to effect it is the tune “London’s Bridge” that a pocket-watch plays – the vampire, when alive, had given the watch to Chu-Chu.

Eventually we get a convoluted method of killing it. After trapping the vampire in a pentagram, it is to be covered in acupuncture needles at certain points during a lunar eclipse. The film is generally played for laughs and they tended to work well enough, or I was just in the right mood at the right time! The action isn’t massively brilliant and the direction is pedestrian but I couldn’t help but like the film. Sometimes it just happens like that 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


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