Sunday, August 07, 2016

Haunted Cop Shop 2 – review

Director: Jeffrey Lau

Release date: 1988

Contains spoilers

I was struck, when I watched the first Haunted Cop Shop, that the ostensibly comedic vehicle was rescued by its surprisingly high level of gore. Unfortunately this sequel pretty much eschewed the gore for comedy.

It still focuses on the same main characters reprised by the original actors. The translation of the names in the subtitles change, however, and so Macky Kim becomes Kam Mark-K (Jacky Cheung) and Chiu becomes Man-Chill (Ricky Hui, Mr Vampire & Chinese Vampire Story). Supt. Shun (Fung Woo, Here Comes a Vampire) also returns.

sudden death
It starts with a quick couple of scenes from the original film and then moves to a meeting of various civil service departments discussing the ‘vampire issue’. Most are trying to dodge any form of involvement but the Tax Collector suddenly realises that he could charge a vampire tax and becomes interested. Supt Shun is bigging up the police’s role in dealing with vampires and dealing with any that breaks the law. Suddenly there is blood in their drinks and one of the company drops his head to the desk dead, bite marks on his neck.

Ricky Hui as Man-Chill
There is a female vampire loose in the building and Shun summons his officers putting Kam Mark-K and Man-Chill in charge of searching out the vampire. The chase round the building has its comedy moments including skiing with buckets and mops. Kam Mark-K and Man-Chill bump into a female cop (the vampire) and argue over who should search the building with her. Man-Chill wins and ends up trapped in a vaulted room with her. Kam Mark-K finds a dead cop, realises what’s happened and tries to rescue his partner.

the female vampire
The female vampire has stripped to her underwear to seduce Man-Chill and is about to bite him when he touches her breast – this distracts her from feeding and we get a joke scene of her wanting to bite him and him having to touch her to prevent it – and a comment from Shin (on the other side of the locked door) that they couldn’t be doing what it sounds like as it would be necrophilia. The rescuers manage to get the door open when they have also positioned mirrors to bring the sun to the vampire. She may be dust but her two victims rise and this leads to more slapstick.

trying to recruit the new squad
To defend the city from the vampire menace a 'ghostbuster squad' is formed. We get a series of vignettes showing a bit of background for each member of the misfit group that leads to them being transferred into the squad. Shun has arranged a training camp for them – not realising that the army had a hushed up vampire issue there and there are two female vampires on the camp. Shiu is worried that he might have been slightly bitten when he was with the female vampire. We also get actor Billy Lau joining the group as Lazy-Bones, the twin brother of his character from the first film.

a dracular
The vampires in this are often referred to as ghosts – this is not uncommon as gui is Chinese for ghost and xi xie gui (suck blood ghost) is one term for vampire. The vampires are of a particularly western variety albeit with idiosyncratic flourishes to the lore. One of the characters, Little Witch (Prudence Liew), states there are three types of vampires – the first two depend on the state of the person who has bitten. If they were crazy when they were bitten they become a dracular (as the subtitles would have it) but if they were frightened they become another type of vampire (details undisclosed).

showing one fang
The third type is like a werewolf (she says) in that they are rabid and animalistic and only change with the light of the moon and this occurs when they have not been deeply poisoned. Man-Chill is one of these now, his vampire persona has one fang and him changing to and from vampire becomes a running joke. His double nature does allow him to discover the vampires’ lair and he does try to stake one during the day (he wears dark glasses but is otherwise untroubled by the daylight). The stake breaks on her chest as he hammers it and I assume that this is a daytime thing as she is staked (or nailed as the subtitles would have it) at night without the same issue – being impervious during the day is a lore reversal from an impervious trope sometimes used, though sunlight would still be an issue had she been in it.

There is, apparently, another type of vampire (though conceivably they could be the ones who are turned when frightened that we heard about). Towards the end of the film a room is opened and we discover that the soldiers attacked by the vampires are still there but they are more like zombies. They shuffle, moan, attack in packs and seem decayed – however they are referred to as vampires in the subtitles and can be forced back by apotropaic items – in this case the flame of a candle from a grandmother’s eightieth birthday. Possibly they are best described as zompires. We discover that electricity is a useful tool for fighting vampires and they can be bound and immobilized with blood string.

the squad
The decision to really concentrate on the comedy, for me, knocked this a notch below the first film. The scenes with the zompires could have been really effective but, again, comedy was the order of the day rather than horror (so we get one character trying to convince another to date him whilst they hold off the zompires with the candle and another followed by ineffectual zompires as she tries to climb breaking ladders.

This wasn’t terrible but it could have been much better. 4.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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