Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vampires: Lucas Rising – review

Director: Jason Davitt

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

To give a potted history, there was a TV series called Vampires: Brighter in Darkness that was cut into a film and when I reviewed it I noted that it was a victim of its own lack of budget, amongst other things.

This is the sequel feature and it possibly had more budget but it also got more ambitious in scope and that in itself made for further issues with the budget as well as the film losing focus on the primary aspect that worked in the first film – the chemistry of the two leads. It also suffered from patchy acting, yet again.

Twilight moment
So new vampire Toby (Dan Briggs) has been taken by vampire-goddess Lilith (Abigail Law-Briggs) leaving his vampire lover Lucas (Rhys Howells) to lament the fact that a vampire only ever falls in love once – or so it is with him. After the credits we see the two together speaking of love. There is an almost Twilight impression given – possibly because of the sparkly effects used. This is, I would think, deliberate as the IMDb trivia suggests “The film Vampires: Lucas Rising was created as part of the Vampire saga by Jason Davitt to give a total representation of both Gay and Straight Characters so lacking in the Twilight series.” The illusion shatters and Lucas is in Hell, facing off a demon, as he has gone there to find Toby.

sucking energy
Mike (Jordan Hale) and John (Adam Butcher) are having some in car fun, out in the woods, when one seems to hear something. Their tryst is interrupted when vampire Mikal (Turan Duncan) opens the door and drags John off. Mikal is a “heretic” – and also an incubus, who seems to suck in the energy of those he kills – being hunted by two of Lilith’s vampires, Demetri (David Randall) and Tara (Annika Desai), with two demonic “dogs”. Mikal gets to a ruined castle and puts a protection spell up. He spills John’s blood on the ground (then turns him as he will not allow a mortal to die) and casts an invocation, which pulls Lucas out of Hell. Tara breaks through the spell and attacks but is killed by Toby’s sister Charlotte (Rebecca Eastwood), a witch.

back from Hell
So Lucas has been brought back, there seems to be a vampire resistance fighting Lilith with the help of Charlotte’s coven. These are also protecting Toby and Charlotte’s parents, Anthea (Leah Stanley) and Ron (John Ryding), who are mortal but now aware of all the supernatural gubbins going on. Toby, it turns out, is being held by Lilith on earth (in a monastery) and shielded. He is being regularly bled as Lilith intends to use his multiple bloodline blood to create hybrids and destroy the Earth. As such other gods are brought into the story too. It is rather ambitious in scope.

hybrids
However the scope loses track of the primary positive from the first film – and that was the chemistry between the two leads, who are kept apart for the most part. In fact Mikal almost takes over the lead role helped by a strong performance by Turan Duncan. The plot didn’t necessarily hold together too well. Toby is rescued by former lover (and now vampire) Paul (Tim Benge) – ok, I get that but he locates Toby (who is magically shielded remember) with help from Antonio (Leo Eaglewood) – but we don’t know what Antonio's motivations are or the how or the why. It is less a plot point and more a contrivance. Similarly Lilith has a school (whose pupils she will turn into hybrids) but as the hybrids seem bestial snarling things one wonders why she needed the brightest and best?

Julie Pickering as Hecate
The acting is as patchy as the first film. With the exceptions of the leads (whose chemistry I have mentioned) and Mikal the performance range from somewhat pantomime, Lilith really does come across like this, to the truly awful. Increasing the plot importance of the character of a particularly poor performer (in the first film) doesn’t do the film any good at all when the performance is just as poor. Some performances, however, work despite themselves. Julie Pickering as the Goddess Hecate is so down-to-earth that it becomes amusing and actually works. The line, ”and if you see my sister Lilith, tell her she’s p*ssed me right off.” becomes unexpectedly funny.

two rebel vampires
Despite the stated desire of giving a total representation of straight and gay characters, this is definitely a gay interest film – Charlotte laments that all the male vampires seem gay (at which point Mikal reveals himself to be bisexual) and, apart from mum and dad, the only relationships (and romantic interests) we really see are gay. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, given that the balance between straight and queer films is totally skewed towards the straight and needs redressing. This focus of the film certainly isn’t why the film becomes weak, as concentrating on the relationship between the primary characters would have improved the entire thing. I should also say that I think I understand the purpose behind including the mum and dad characters (adding an ordinary human perspective) but they didn’t necessarily do this and they certainly didn’t add any depth of characterisation to Toby and Charlotte, and as such their presence was probably not needed.

cgi fist through chest
In the final analysis the film becomes weak because the filmmakers' ambition was bigger than the budget and more expansive than their actors’ skills, for the most part. That said, some of the creature effects worked really rather well, when physical, and whilst the CGI wasn’t the greatest it was better than in many other films. Plot points were needed to expand on some aspects and deus ex machina were too heavily relied on (be it Paul’s intervention in the hostage situation or the actual ending resolution). There is to a be a third film and I hope that lessons are learnt and they concentrate on their strengths and reduce the weaknesses. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sicilian Vampire – review


Director: Frank D'Angelo

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers


I think one issue I come across in a lot of the more modern vampire films is the writer, director and star all being the same individual. Whilst it can, arguably, lead to a pure interpretation of the script, it can also lead to not having a check and balance, a built-in quality control as it were. Perhaps it is the loss of dynamic between these creative elements that the synergy between disparate individuals offers.

Sicilian Vampire certainly attracted a solid acting cast with well-known individuals and also expected the audience to think – putting two and two together in places (such as the source of the vampirism) rather than spoon feeding. Yet it kind of missed, for me at least. Not absolutely awful but not good, no, certainly not good.

Frank D'Angelo as Santo
It starts with a graveyard and a voice over by Santino “Santo” Trafficante Jr. (Frank D'Angelo) – don’t get excited, Santo in this is an Italian-American gangster and not a silver masked luchador. He tells us the “Life is timing and timing is life” amongst other things and admits he has told no-one this story, in case he is thought mad. We see a hand rest on his shoulder and this scene is the bookend of the film.

Daryl Hannah as Carmelina
So then we have a car with Santo’s oldest friends and trusted lieutenants, Sammy (Michael Paré, Bloodrayne, Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance, the Blood Reich: Bloodrayne 3 & Blubberella), Vince (Armand Assante, Soul’s Midnight & the Bleeding) and Tony (Tony Nardi). Tony starts singing along to Just a Gigolo, is told to can it because he can’t sing and then the others join in. Meanwhile Santo wakes up. His wife, Carmelina (Daryl Hannah), is confused as to why he is up but he is going on his monthly trip to the cabin, something he and his guys have done for 18 years – I’ll give the dialogue the benefit of the doubt and suggest she was confused having just woken up as she has made him, late the night before, stacks of home cooked food to take with him

Nina Iordanov as Anna Marie
So, he goes to the bathroom – we get a routine of him not peeing until multiple taps are switched on and, when he gets back to his room, his clothes are put out for him. He looks in on his daughter, Anna Marie (Nina Iordanova, ABCs of Death 2), picks up a gun and steps outside. The car arrives and he remonstrates aggressively about the noise of them singing at 6AM. He then tells Tony to get in the trunk or die… then admits he is kidding.

food stocks
They get to the cabin and Santo refuses food for booze and cards. It is at this juncture that I want to talk dialogue. The IMDb synopsis says, “Equal parts Goodfellas and Dusk till Dawn” – well let us remember that From Dusk Till Dawn was written by Quentin Tarantino and, like the rest of his oeuvre, can be used as a dialogue masterclass. The lessons of that class were, unfortunately, not learnt. The dialogue sounds like a caricature of gangster flicks, rather than carrying you it thus blocks you and Santo (who D’Angelo clearly wants to make sympathetic) comes across as absolutely unlikeable.

bat bite
So, the next morning and the four awaken at the card table – Sammy getting a box of bananas to force fruit onto his companions. Santo notices that there is a “rat” in the box – but that rat is a bat that launches out and onto his neck. Blood squirts, they manage to get it off him, bind his neck in a sheet and take him to hospital. As well as threatening a receptionist they are seen by a doctor (Jack Newman) who says it is nothing but a scratch – but offers a tetanus and rabies shot. Whilst waiting Santo has a dream of hyenas and I wonder why? Ok, there is a genre connection with Nosferatu but they aren’t exactly a Sicilian thing, a wolf perhaps would have been more apt.

no reflection
So he notices that he has lost his reflection. He also detects, in his sleep, when his daughter is being hassled in a club (that she was forbidden to go to). This leads to him sprouting talons, fangs and red eyes. He gets to the club to defend her – there is an aerial shot so that might be as a bat. Whatever it is, its blooming fast as the same song is still playing. He tells her, in response to her question of how he knew, that he can hear a mouse fart and later we see him hearing a mouse fart in the house! He also starts getting phone calls from someone claiming to be his dead father (Robert Loggia, Innocent Blood & the Boneyard Collection).

Paul Sorvino as Jimmy
With his super hearing he discovers that a member of his crew is betraying him to rival boss, Jimmy (Paul Sorvino, Spooky Kids & Airship Dracula), who spends most of his time in his go-go club. Santo does nothing about this, letting the rat make his move. He also goes to Professor Bernard Issacs (James Caan) for help, who discovers that his blood cells are reproducing at an astonishing rate and thus he will not die. The Professor wants to be bitten, to live forever, but Santo won’t do it and here was a huge problem with the story.

strip joint or go-go?
I can buy vampire films where the vampire will not pass on the curse, even when begged. However Santo experiences very few negatives – he is still around during the day, he eats normal food (the Professor reckons eventually he will have to rely on blood but puts no timescale on that) and drinks. Indeed the only negatives are that he has no reflection (no one notices) and his foot starts steaming when he steps on a church’s hallowed ground. Given the character built before us, however, I would imagine he would exploit this new power – see the actions of the gangster boss in Innocent Blood. D’Angelo creates a caricature gangster and then suggests he straightens up because he can now sprout fangs – nothing in the film supported the direction the story went in.

the cops
As a film it relied too much on dialogue heavy scenes but the dialogue was clichéd. It was much too long a film and could have had a good 30 minutes cut from it, this might have helped the pacing, which was turgid in places. Certainly the presence of the two Detectives (Eric Roberts – Lost Girl & Halloween Hell – and Art Hindle – Monster Brawl), shown trailing Santo, added nothing to the story and could be expunged, for instance. The filming and photography was purely budget but with such a renowned cast the film could have done more, and I return back to the dangers of all the key creativity resting in the hands of a single individual. 4 out of 10 is generous.

The imdb page is here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Honourable mention: Anno Dracula 1899 and Other Stories

This was a 2017 release by Kim Newman and is a collection of multi-world stories, mostly taking the Anno Dracula premise of adapting a film or book into an alternate world, but only the last story being part of the Anno Dracula series. That was the last tale Yokai Town: Anno Dracula 1899, which in itself is a teaser of a new Anno Dracula novel due later in 2017.

It was actually fun to step out of that world and into other worlds created in Kim Newman’s fertile (and genre geek heavy) imagination. Some of the stories also touched on vampire themes occasionally.

The first story is Famous Monsters and follows the fortune of a Martian (ethnicity, it was birthed in the USA) actor in Hollywood. When I say Martian I mean, of course, those of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (1898), which itself is a book concerned with alien vampires as our blood is their sustenance. In this cow’s blood is consumed.

The story Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue was probably my favourite in the volume. An unusual zombie apocalypse story that name checks wurdalaks and vrykolakas. The Chill Clutch of the Unseen sees the last monster hunter and the last monster (the invisible man) meet – with a memory of a vampiric attack touched on. Red Jacks Wild follows Jack the Ripper whose life is extended with ritualistic sacrifices to Hecate. In Übermensch Newman imagines what would have happened if Superman had crashed in Germany and fell under the sway of National Socialism – one of his enemies (in a name-check) was Graf Orlock. Completist Heaven sees a genre fanatic find a TV channel that shows the films you could imagine – obviously vampires feature in some of these.

Finally the Anno Dracula story sees a boat pull into Tokyo harbour, the passengers – all vampires fleeing Dracula – seek sanctuary and are allowed to move to Yokai Town – a place that officially doesn’t exist and houses the Yokai (in this reimagined as types of vampires).

A worthy volume though the Anno Dracula connection is more a selling point than the underpinning of the volume.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Vampires (1986) – review

Director: Len Anthony

Release date: 1986

Contains spoilers

This film will feel awfully familiar to those who know the portmanteau flick Fright House. That film was made up of two primary stories and this was the second one, but now it is expanded to eighty minutes. Indeed, when I reviewed Fright House I said, “Director Len Anthony released a film entitled Vampires three years earlier and, given the same cast involvement, it appears this was the same film renamed” and it was.

Let us make something clear from the get go. Having the extra twenty one minutes in (and the fact that the scene ordering was originally different than that we saw in Fright House) does not make this any better. It is still a mess with the same basic story (and that is a confused mess).

Jackie James as Abadon
In short we have energy vampires made so through a machine (so science based) and some pseudo-mumbo jumbo about the soul being a balance of positive and negative energy and the machine siphoning away one charge to make the soul in the vampire keep the body alive. Beyond this, if you wish to get a flavour of the story read the previous review.

Duane Jones as Harmon
In said review I stated that “If I had seen the second segment on its own the score might have been even lower than that I have given but the presence of Al Lewis in the first part does elevate it ever so slightly”. Well this has no Al Lewis. It does have Duane Jones (Ganja and Hess) being magnificent despite the film and the rest of the cast but that score has sunk – albeit just a little. 1.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Club Dead – review

Director: Paul Rocha

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers


A film can fail for many reasons. Not really being sure if it is a drama or a comedy can make it fail (as well as not understanding the level of comedic moments acceptable within a drama). Not understanding its own internal logic can also make it fail. Welcome to Club Dead.

That, I am sure you’ll agree, is not the most positive opening but, unfortunately, the film doesn’t deserve a more positive opening (though there is at least one saving grace within).

In the Alley
Let us take the opening. After a shaky city establishing shot, a man, Zack (Roby Sobieski), jumps through a window into an alley. As he stumbles along the alley there is a blur. He grabs the cross he is wearing. Madam (Caroline Gombe) appears and admonishes him for leaving, it is rude. Now, he sees she has fangs, she runs her finger in his blood and licks it and he is holding a cross up to try and ward her… yet he asks, “what the Hell are you?” This is the film failing to understand its own internal logic. The fangs and the blood would be a pop culture giveaway (and presumably he’s been attacked or seen attacks in the club he has just escaped, or he wouldn’t have jumped through a window). But ultimately we know he knows because he’s holding up a cross.

dream vampire
We get a voice over (from character Gus (Brad Potts, Brides of Sodom)) that tells us that there is a select order whose job is containment and wherever you find a vampire cell you’ll find a Sentinel. We see Vida (Kim Hamilton) wake up as a voice whispers her name. She goes to the window and, outside, she sees a vampire. She scurries back to her bed and one appears and attacks her. She wakes screaming and tells her baseball bat toting roommate April (Taisha Monique Clark) that she’s had a nightmare again.

Dream Vampire 2
Vida is dressed up as a rock chick to try and help her friend Scott (Brandon Middleton) get in Club Dead. The bouncer, Doze (Alfred Rubin Thompson), is not taking his shit and points out that Madam decides who gets in. Back at work – April, Scott and Vida all work together in a diner – Scott complains about not getting in and Vida complains that he copped a feel. Turns out that all of them have tried to get in for over a year – most of them at weekends but Scott almost nightly and as a viewer I start to wonder why… why would you repeatedly go to the same place you can’t get in?

I know how you feel
After another failed attempt to get in, when obnoxious co-worker Tony (Matt Masella), is chosen, the guys from the diner go and buy some liquor store booze and face a rant from Gus about Club Dead being a place of evil and depravity, he should know… he’s a Sentinel. His rant seems silly. Why would he announce himself as a sentinel? Why would he warn them off when 1) they’ve never got in (presumably it isn’t the first time they’ve then gone to buy booze) and 2) his job isn’t rescuing people it is containment… But that’s just it, the film doesn’t explain what containment means so we are left to assume it is preventing a public event or mass slaughter.

chosen
Tony hasn’t returned to work (we see him bitten in a toilet cubicle) and a new girl, Judy (Hope Alexandria Harris), starts work. Long story short, Vida invites her to live with her and April and they all go to Club Dead. Before they get there Gus has a rant about not taking Judy there and, lo, Madam chooses her. To get her in she allows the rest in and inside it’s an average looking club (though it does have a free bar). Later Madam says it isn’t a club, it’s a restaurant and, separately, the free bar is because it isn’t a business but a party. Once they are in the exits vanish and we wonder why is Judy so important? Apparently because she’s a virgin (and a virgin is needed to mate with Madam’s son (Michael Q. Davis)) – apparently Madam has been waiting a long time for a virgin to come to the club. Judy is also called the Chosen One at one point and a mystical match with the son would have made more sense.

Doug Bilitch as the Count
The inside was laughable. We don’t really care about the characters as there was no character building (ok, there was a little but it was sporadic and sometimes too little too late). However there was one moment that took the proverbial biscuit. Will (Monti Washington) is lured to a basement where he is to be fed to Count Vyrolakas (Doug Bilitch), Unfortunately Bilitch plays it like a comedy role (I assume purposefully), with no sense of the pitch of the rest of the film and when I say comedy I mean absurdist comedy. It forces the film off the tracks at around the 46 minute mark but the film really had been struggling to stay on the tracks as it was.

losing her reflection
There is a nice moment with a mirror as Madam fixes an accessory for Judy, Judy notices the lack of reflection, turns and Madam is on the far side of the room nowhere near the mirror – it turns a freaky event into a double take and I rather liked it. Gus comes barrelling to the rescue so as to prevent the wedding/consummation. There is no mention in dialogue as to why Vida was having the dreams. The lore is that a short drink turns the victim and a long drink kills, and then has a couple of seconds long bite kill someone (hardly enough time to draw the blood out of the body). They cast no reflection, are able to take on the appearance of another person, apparently they can make doors disappear, both a stake to the heart and sunlight kill vampires and crosses burn them.

Caroline Gombe as Madam
This was poor. It needed to work out its own internal logic and then establish it for the audience. It needed to build characters properly; one, a patron named Eli (Justin Ray), clearly liked Vida and that’s all we knew. There was no build of the relationship and so we didn’t care when Vida had to choose whether to kill him or let him turn. Similarly with Scott – we get a twist in his story but there really hasn’t been enough build around the character to make the twist meaningful. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Vampire of Blackpool – review

Author: Catherine Green

First published: 2016

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The vampire, the witch, and the hunter battle it out in a contemporary Gothic adventure in Northern England. Meredith Hanson lives in Blackpool, the former Victorian holiday hotspot of Northern England. She masquerades as a reclusive author, feeding on the blood of unsuspecting tourists without remorse. Her life takes on new meaning when she meets a young witch in a local pub one evening. Despite Meredith’s cold demeanour, she finds herself oddly fascinated with Samantha Morris, and falls into an accidental relationship with the girl. It is at this time that a vampire hunter arrives in Blackpool. He is tough, he is determined, and his next target is an ancient vampire that has been spotted in the tourist town. He intends to bring her down and destroy her to save the lives of innocent humans. Will he succeed? Or will the experienced vampire seductress be the cause of his undoing?

The review: Blackpool. It’s the last place one would imagine a supernatural battle between a powerful vampire and a hunter, with witches’ covens and shapeshifters. It’s the last place one would imagine setting a gothic piece (I did once write an – unpublished – vampire piece set in Blackpool but it was grimy and urban not Gothic and romantic). How can I say that, well its where I live and it is a town that revels in its chintz and seedy underbelly – probably more suited to the comic stylings of the Slayers than what is, essentially, a paranormal romance.

The location of Blackpool was perhaps a little difficult for me as I didn’t recognise the town within the writing geographically. That is not usually a problem, of course, as an author creates a fantasy that can vary from reality and the reader more often than not knows a place through their prose not through their own experience. This is therefore not an issue within the book and has not impacted my score of the prose.

Green’s prose is, in of itself, strong. Some of the dialogue perhaps was stagy but as vampire Meredith is ancient that felt right. There was a degree of thriller to the book – some details felt contrived (a person killed and then dropped in the sea would not be thought of as a drowning victim as there would be no water in the lungs) – but mostly it was a character driven romance. You might recall that the author recently gave TMtV a guest blog and I felt I could feel the protagonist imposing her will upon the story direction, perhaps driving towards a love triangle through the natural flow of writing.

I was interested in the urban fantasy aspect, the apparent layers hidden within society – of secret police sections dealing with the supernatural, of slayer guilds, covens and a whole hidden society. That was pitched very well. As for the vampire she was very powerful, able to fly and her eyes betrayed a lunar connection (turning the silver of moonlight). Sunlight renders the vampires powerless and the vampire had perhaps an energy vampire aspect, ingesting emotions and attitudes from their victims along with their blood. Perhaps feeding into the interesting supernatural society the author drew was the idea that the vampires themselves had grown weary, as a group, and now rarely turned humans.

This might have some urban fantasy and thriller aspects but, as I say, it is a paranormal romance at heart and if you are looking for that type of book it is worth your time. 7 out of 10.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Aloha, the Little Vampire – review

Director: Chuang Yan-Chien

Release date: 1987

Contains spoilers


The child kyonsi appears in Chinese movies from time to time and often serves as either a comedic or oddly innocent aside. In this case the film is clearly focused on a child kyonsi and, indeed, child protagonists. It is, pretty much, comedy orientated but that comedy is not always in the best taste. Along with poo and pee gags we also get a homophobic aside that was cringeworthy.

That said this does also carry some fairly unique lore and has a western type vampire element also, so it is pretty much a hotchpotch with some interesting elements, some annoying elements and some offensive moments thrown in. Why the western title include the Hawaiian salutation is not clear.

Uncle Black
So it begins with an old man going in to a room of coffins and talking to the inhabitants, referring to them as vampires. When he leaves one of the coffins rattles and a kyonsi in white robes bursts out of a coffin, he is known as Uncle White ( Lee Hoi-Hing). Following quickly behind is a kyonsi in black robes, with a blacked face and he is known as Uncle Black. Then we hear them addressed by a child kyonsi, Hsiu Long, reminding them that it is his mother’s birthday – both kyonsi are obviously competing with each other and both warn Hsiu about the other.

Mother
They enter the hall where the kyonsi will hold the party and we get a scene of dancing kyonsi. Into this comes Hsui’s mother but she is depicted not as a kyonsi but more how maybe another Chinese film might depict a ghost. She dances and Uncle Black imagines dancing with her and kissing her, coming out of his fantasy to discover that he has tried to kiss another (male) kyonsi. This is the homophobic ‘gag’ as the other kyonsi suggests he might get AIDS and remonstrates that Uncle Black didn’t look gay. Uncomfortable dialogue over we cut to Uncle White who has a similar fantasy and asks her to marry him, discovering that he has accidentally asked a chunky female kyonsi to marry him.

fight
The formal part of the party over the guests can now dance as they wish. Both Black and White ask her to dance with them and end up fighting (in leather armour that is just a tad disco, and using bone weapons, the pair tied to each other for the combat). Hsui Long is certain they are fighting over him and leaves his home. Distraught mother sends out vampires to find him (who get scared and come back!) Eventually she agrees that whichever of Uncle Black or White brings Hsui Long home will gain her hand in marriage.

Western style vampire
Elsewhere there is a man who has contracted vampirism – he looks like a western vampire, in suit and cloak. He leaps into a tree and then drops down to kill a guard in his brothers’ camp. His two brothers (the eldest in casual clothing, the younger dressed in a suit) use this attack to capture their undead sibling. There is mention that vampire blood could cure him. Later we see that they are dealing with a Taoist monk who has brought them a kyonsi. They allow the brother to bite the other vampire – the suggestion is that the cold blood of a vampire will act like a poison and counteract the brother’s vampirism. It doesn’t work and the monk rationalises that the process has gone too far and to cure the brother they need, specifically, the blood of a 1000-year-old child vampire.

Hsui Long
Meanwhile we see that there are two group of children living in a nearby town. There is a group of bullies and a group of friends – a child called Dong Dong (Chan Yin-Yu) wants to be the leader of the friends. The friends are playing “ghost” – essentially hide and seek – and there is an attempt to scare them by dressing as kyonsi. One of the friends, who carries a bit more weight, goes for a poo and is bitten on the bum by one of the fake vampires – who ends up with a turd in the mouth for his troubles! Hsui Long finds them and assumes the fake kyonsi to be real – but when he blows cold air (that knocks the kids over) to prove he is a vampire they run away. He meets Dong Dong and decides to befriend him – though Dong Dong is not wanting to befriend a vampire.

friends
We get to a point in the film where the bullies are after Hsui Long and, as their leader is the monk’s nephew, he gets hold of some Taoist equipment. There is comedy with Dong Dong's parents, with the father (Ma Hok-Man) depicted as weak, and the harridan mother (Yeung Hung) actually a man in drag. The two adult kyonsi try to get the child kyonsi in order to take him home, and more often than not end up fighting each other, and the monk is trying to capture Hsui Long to give to the brothers. Eventually the kids help the kyonsi get home to his mother.

healing powers
I mentioned lore and Hsui Long has a variety of powers – as well as being warded by religious scrolls/markings – this includes being able to heal his friends, turn pots into cute bunnies and levitate people. He is susceptible to Taoist tricks. Interestingly he leads the kids over a river to hide from the Uncles because the water disturbs their sense of smell. The more western vampire can be warded by a cross, which will actually zap him with energy. This doesn’t have any effect on the kyonsi who are able to bring a cross along to fight him.

using a cross
The film is filled with histrionics as one would expect from a film where kids are the primary focus. There is some kung fu thrown in and some gags that are just wrong now. I liked the playing with the two cultures – something that other films would run with as well. However the film was just not as good as many out there (bad gags aside) and really shows its age as well. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.