18 comments on ““Rigor Mortis” (2013) – Chinese Hopping Vampire/ Ghost Horror

  1. Okay, the poster screams “Sid Haig!”, the first screenie is right out of The Shining, and the last one’s straight outta Zombi 2… something tells me someone may have been a tad influenced by western horror here. But hopping vampires? Okay, I’m on board.

    • Yep. There’s a lot of influences here from Western horror films, but director Mak definitely wanted to show that traditional Chinese horror elements can be scary rather than simply quaint or funny.

  2. Love reading both your opinion on the movie…too bad we failed to do the same on Harakiri 😦
    I have posted it as a short review because I am still not in the mood to write full review on certain movies…Sorry Miyuki 😦

    When my mood has come again…let’s try to do this again 🙂

    • Truthfully Novia, I think I share your general feelings over this one. I too much preferred “13 Assassins” over this one.

      I still would welcome the chance to do one of these “shared reviews’ with you sometime… I think we just need to find that special film that will be fun for the both of us.

  3. I know this is quite late but I actually just watched this movie yesterday so I am cruising around the net looking for more info and opinions on it, thus I stumbled here :p.

    To answer your boggle, the kid ghost/s with the tongue is actually Gau’s familiar, its the combined manifestation of the spirits of the dead babies he was smoking in those funny cigarettes from the red jars. Based on his dialogue Gau was trying to extend his life by various means though how you do it with dead babies, a hopping vampire (that actually ended up killing him) and two sexy ghosts. I think the writers got their research backwards; In Chinese lore, Yin is the death while Yang is life, you want more of the latter if you want to live longer but that too has his nasty side effects as too much ambient Yang is what also allows Po souls to animate corpses and can turn people berserk.

    Loved the movie overall, its really atmospheric, I dare say its HK’s version of The Thing but the ending is a real screw job and I feel Auntie Mui was underused in the final act especially after all the gravitas brought down by her murder of Pak. She should’ve had a bigger role in the final battle if only to drive home how far she’s fallen.

    • Ahhh… now that you’ve mentioned that it does make more sense. My problem is I know most of my Chinese lore from HK movies rather than any actual experience with the culture firsthand. 😉

      Thanks for dropping by my lil’ Litterbox and chiming in! It’s always nice to share bit of this with my Gentle Visitors. 🙂

  4. Small notes on cultural knowledge:

    -The little things the security guard drops when he courteously forces himself into Gau’s residence are White Rabbit candies, often offered to hungry wandering spirits. White Rabbit is chewy and milk based. The grinning thing behind Gau’s curtain snatches it because it is the spirit of a child, who cannot resist sweets. The security guard was seeing if Gau was up to necromancy, sleuthing by old wives’ lore. (Which is *so* cool.)

    -Cigarettes = joss sticks, the traditional snack of ghosts, who consume the smoke / scent / essence. It can also represent your lifespan. The security guard’s presentation of the incense with his lunch orange is cheap prudence: “orange” sounds like “luck” in Chinese, and is often presented at street altars as generic gifts.

    -The spell wheel’s characters describe the Chinese idea of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, wood, water. Where the Taoist uses the purer elemental form, the creation of the hopping dead also involves same but in an impure, man-made form: burning joss, bathtub earth, coin mask, casket, corpse condensate.

    -The square concrete arches at the beginning of Chin’s narrative, and the red iron girder arch he steps under later = spirit gates.

    I call this film haunted. Enjoyed it so much; reminds me of when I stayed up late to get scared pale by old jiangshi films.

    A few bits are jarring LOLWUTs:

    -What’s with Pak’s bicycle rising out of ashy mucus? So random.

    -The Taoist wasn’t chanting, wasn’t in a trigram and had to keep a position when he used the spell wheel; why didn’t he shuffle? His ancestors used the thing and apparently survived long enough to reproduce; I think they shuffled.

    -I got the idea that Chin’s wife slit her wrists and their son’s wrists. Okay. Then who was that young man at the end of the film who came for Chin’s body? Was it an imposter? Corpse thief like Gau?

    -The flash of images at the end: did it mean that all the ghost shenanigans did not happen? Or that he, now a ghost, was going to live in the old tenement block where he died?

    • Woooo! Now you’ve been thinking about this one… 🙂

      Thanks for filling in the blanks on some of that folklore stuff. Most of the time those sorts of things are so subtle they slip right by this lady…. and I’ve honestly seen oodles of these.

  5. Nice review of one of my favourite movies.

    Personally I love the unresolved threads and references, like the ghostly parade in the corridors – it suggests a larger supernatural world that we’re only getting a glimpse of, beyond what’s directly relevant to the story. Like in the original Star Wars trilogy, before Lucas shrank the galaxy with the prequels. We can try to fill in the blanks if we like, but we don’t need to know why those ghosts are there – we wouldn’t understand everything perfectly anyway because we’re not Taoist sorcerers or monster hunters. Unexplained elements illustrate just how deep the rabbit hole goes for the characters who do this stuff for a living.

    It also justifies the presence of all the elements that are actually plot-relevant, by demonstrating that this place in particular is haunted completely to heck anyway. The vampire just finally tipped the scales past a critical point. The Taoism at the heart of this belief system is all about balancing elements of yin and yang – the conflict between the two sorcerers probably deliberately represents this – and the presence of all the supernatural shenanigans shows just how finely balanced this whole haunted building is at any given time.

    It’s a surprisingly subtle movie for the genre. The more I think about it, the more I love the way it handles the cosmology and tropes of Taoist alchemy/monster-hunting.


    • It’s definitely one of the better Chinese horror efforts of late with a distinct love of those older films. Personally, I found the melding of Chinese and Japanese horror film elements to be the most effective part of the experience. Really makes me wonder how a director might blend the ultra-bloody Thai style of horror film making with some of those traditional Chinese plots.

  6. I wish i could’ve seen this earlier. Actually it did say in that movie when the old man fell down the stair, he heard kids voice… etc.. that little ghost is owned by the Dark wizard, He uses black magic, and one of that the function is to keep people alive, when they are suppose to be dead, , in Chinese it’s called ” breeding little ghosts”, u take care of them, they follow u, in return, you get .~~~ but this is like drugs, u have to keep on doing it, never stop, and u’ll need more and more and more of their power, that’s why he tried to lock the sisters ghost up. tried to make them his ” little ghost”. Because twin ghosts are very rare, especially ones like that , they have double, triple or even more power than reg ghosts.

    • I did get the “baby ghost” thing, but only in as much as it related to other films I’ve seen. Being raised here in the US means I’m much more culturally in tune with Western horror themes. But I’m picking it all up… little by little, much to my sweetheart’s occasional dismay come “Movie Nite”… 😉

    • Quite the nice bit of short film. Yep… this wee lady has loved Hopping Vampires ever since I first caught “Mr. Vampire” waaaaay back in my college days. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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