Today we’re going to look at a movie which is available from Netflix, yet has only been seen by six IMDB users apparently. Shaolin VS. Vampire is a Hong Kong film that is part of the Jiangshi genre, which features their version of Vampires. The vampires in Chinese culture are somewhat different. They are still undead, fanged, predators, but are more like a cross between voodoo zombies and ghosts otherwise. The priests are able to control them with written spells they stick onto them, but if not they are usually evil and prey on people for their souls. They’re also more zombie-like in appearance.
Films featuring these vampires were popular in Asian horror films of the 80s, so this one from 1980 was the first of many. Having seen a handful of others, like Encounters of the Spooky Kind and Mr. Vampire, I can tell you that this is the most family friendly one. The others are humorous, but this one stars two kids and has no blood or gore whatsoever. The story revolves around a little girl, Bee, who becomes friends with a vampire boy who is lurking around the set of a vampire movie, which her dad is a stuntman on. It turns out the ‘filmmakers’ are really there trying to scare off the villagers, as the director is really an evil sorcerer who wants to take control of the vampires there. The girl and her father are the only ones who are brave enough to stay and fight him.
This is definitely a unique take on vampires, even knowing their lore in this part of the world. The vampire boy reminds you a lot of Casper the Friendly Ghost, as he is kind and helpful to the girl and her family. There are some sad, dramatic moments as well as a lot of fun, happy ones, and I liked how they balanced that. It’s on par with anime films of the time. The film isn’t very predictable either, which I love in any movie.
On the other hand, there are scenes meant to surprise the audience that came off as confusing or out of nowhere. For instance, they start a fight scene and then cut to a dream sequence without ending the fight. I’m still not sure when that dream started, and it was very unnecessary. Then later, the vampire boy is able to control the weather all of a sudden. In my research, I didn’t see anything about vampires being able to do that, so I can’t say why they added that in the script. The filmmakers may have thought that we’d be so enchanted by how cute the kids are that we wouldn’t care about those things.
This isn’t a good movie, but it wasn’t really bad either. It was interesting to see that one of the first in this genre was basically a kids’ movie, but the more adult ones that followed are much better. I would recommend this for older kids that like scary movies, or anyone who likes both family friendly horror and Asian horror. Overall, it’s an okay movie, and more people should check it out.
**1/2 Shaolin Vs. Vampire gets two and a half stars.