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The Hopping Vampire

My last post presented a different breed of vampire coming from Asia, but did you know that apart from flying vampire head, we Asians have another variety of vampire in our camp, the hopping vampire! They are a popular horror character in Chinese horror movies.


They originate from China (known as ‘Jiangshi’) but also popular in Korea (known as ‘Gangshi’) and Japan (known as ‘Kyonshi’). The way I looked at them, I would classify them as a hybrid of vampire and zombie. Their appearance can range from pale-looking, like the recently deceased, to horrific, i.e. rotted flesh, rigor mortis, and various states of decay, and is usually noted by its greenish-white skin, possibly from a fungus or mold growing on the corpse. They can’t walk, they hop. Their limbs are mostly stiff (due to rigor mortis) so they hop with arms outstretched, growling in the chase for their prey. They have very long, sharp nails and so does their fangs. They usually wears the Qing dynasty’s palace official dress with necklace and hat. They kill people to suck their ‘chi’ (life essence). They are known to bite and eat their prey  (and they can spread their jiangshi virus as well, making their victim as one of their own), much like zombies. For an in-depth background history of this fearsome night creature, you can follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangshi

The movies that made them popular initially was made during the 80’s titled Mr. Vampire (1985) and Encounters of The Spooky Kind (1980) but they were not made as horror movies but rather as a combination of action, comedy and horror (I guess it’s a recipe for box office success in the Hong Kong film industry at that time). Mr. Vampire spawned many sequels such as Mr. Vampire II (1986), III (1987) and IV (1988).

Both of these movies starred legendary actor Lam Ching Ying (1952-1997), regarded as Peter Cushing of Asia. He starred as Taoist priest in many Hong Kong horror flick, and battled with countless jiangshi. Jiangshi were also portrayed in movies released in the US such as The Jitters (1989) featured James Hong (of Balls Of Fury, Big Trouble in Little China) as part of the casts.

A comprehensive list of jiangshi movies can be found by following this link: http://www.imdb.com/list/2O2mC476sGQ/

I loved to watch jiangshi movies when I was a kid (especially when it starred stellar casts such as Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Wu Ma and Corey Yuen) and there were so many of these movies to choose from (I don’t mind trashy horror movies as long as it’s entertaining). I’m a bit disappointed that there are not many horror movies portraying jiangshi nowadays. I really hope somebody in the Hong Kong film industry would try to revive this fascinating creature in a new horror movie or at least a remake would do to satisfy a fan such as myself. Wouldn’t you agree?

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2 responses

  1. Hopping vampire flicks are my favorite movies in the whole world.

    Last year there was a movie called Moonlight which tried to bring jiangshi action back to China’s big screen. But it was a stinker.

    A lot of Chinese filmmakers are hesitant to explore material based on Chinese folklore, since the government issued a proclamation banning films which “promote superstition.” I wrote about it here: http://thedaoshichronicles.blogspot.com/2012/10/smash-all-old-things.html

    March 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    • There was a similar ban in my country not long ago but now it seemed that the ban has somewhat loosened and led to plethora of new local horror films coming into the cinema in these couple of years. I was relieved that the ban was not prolonged any longer and local horror production thrives once more. I hope China will undergo the same transformation in the near future. I guess Hong Kong is under the same ban.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:01 pm

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