Mr Vampire, and its loose sequels, formed the heart of a comedy horror craze in Hong Kong during the mid to late ’80s and early ’90s. It spawned many imitators and headed its own sub genre in Asian horror cinema. Juno Mak’s Rigor Mortis is a tribute to Mr Vampire, but approaches its flavour of bizarre humour in a slightly different way.
Chin Siu-ho is the star of Mr Vampire, but has become depressed and suicidal since his wife and family have left him. He moves into an dilapidated apartment and tries to commit suicide, but is rescued by Lau (Anthony Chan), a retired vampire hunter, who not only saves his life but exorcises the ghosts trying to take possession of his body. Chin meets the motley collection of neighbours including the traumatised Yang Feng (Kara Hui) and her albino son Pak , the caretaker Uncle Yin (Lo Hoi-pang) and black magician Gau (Chung Fat), whose trying to resurrect Uncle Tung (Richard Ng) for the rather disturbed Aunty Meiyi (Paw Hee-ching). Then again, the most worrying residents are no longer with us.
Where Mr Vampire was just a crazy rollercoaster ride of film, Rigor Mortis plays to a more creepy and obtuse brand of humour. It’s clever and has some great scenes, but it doesn’t manager to maintain any consistent momentum throughout. However, there something about the rather untranslatable and often unfathomable Asian dark humour which always provides good entertainment.
Rigor Mortis is out in cinemas on Friday.