Interviews

"Vampire Cleanup Department" pays tribute to old Chinese vampire flicks

Writer: Erny Suzira


(L-R) Richard Ng, Chiu Sin Hang, Babyjohn Choi, Chin Siu Ho, Lin Min Chen and Anthony Yan.

Chinese vampire movies was a genre well-loved by many back in the 80s and 90s, and it had become a cult-favourite among horror comedy lovers.

One of the most well-known 'hopping vampire' movies is the "Mr Vampire" series starring Lam Ching-ying who is best known for playing the role of a stoic Taoist priest who hunts down vampires, and in many of his movies, there's Chin Siu Ho who always plays the lackey or protégé that assists him.

Now, bringing back the classic and iconic genre, the new "Vampire Cleanup Department" has Chin Siu Ho assuming the role of a sifu with Babyjohn Choi taking the role of a protégé. Directed by two young directors, Anthony Yan Pak Wing and Chiu Sin Hang, the movie honours the classic genre in so many ways and it also marks the comeback of Chinese 'hopping vampires'.

Also starring Malaysian Instagram sensation Lin Min Chen, and veteran actors like Richard Ng and Lo Mang, "Vampire Cleanup Department" is now showing in cinemas in Malaysia and Singapore.

The main cast of the movie such as Chin Siu Ho, Babyjohn Choi, Lin Min Chen and Richard Ng, together with the two directors, had recently talked to Cinema Onlinw about several funny moments and experiences they had while working on the film, and how each of them likes to tease Min Chen!

Cinema Online: Do you actually believe that vampires exist in this world?

Anthony: I guess we do. Because when we do research there are a lot of mentions about vampires in literary works and writings. A long time ago in Shangxi, there's a group of people whose job is to get rid of corpses. So I think there is a way that can cause a corpse to get up and hop around, so I kind of believe in it.

Sin Hang: I believe it too. It's just that we can't see it, because there may be a group of people like VCD who got rid of them without us knowing.


Director Chiu Sin Hang during the press conference.

Speaking of that, how did you come up with the name 'VCD' a.k.a. 'Vampire Cleanup Department'?

Sin Hang: As many may already know, VCD also stands for something that we are very familiar with, which is the video compact disk. So there has been a joke going around saying that this thing is old and there's no need for it anymore, but actually, it is very important to us as most of us grew up with it, and thanks to VCD, we have watched plenty of movies.

Before shooting, do you already have the cast members in mind?

Anthony: Yes. The script was specifically written for them.

Including Min Chen?

Anthony:
We already planned to have a female vampire in the movie, but to find one with the right qualities and charisma is not easy. But we came across Min Chen on social media, so we flew to Taiwan to meet up with her. We feel that she's different from how she appears on her social media.


Director Anthony Yan talks about the movie.

Does Sin Hang feel the same when he saw Min Chen?

Sin Hang: I think she's okay. [laughs]

Babyjohn: Stop acting! You would always purposely try to teach her Cantonese even though she didn't ask for it! [laughs]

Siu Ho: Yeah, he was very attentive and considerate when it comes to Min Chen, but when it comes to us guys, he's never like that!

Sin Hang: She comes to Hong Kong from another country, so we need to give her the hospitality. [laughs]

Richard, do you have anything you'd like to add?

Richard: I think from all the female vampires that I've seen in films over the years, Min Chen is the vampiress with the nicest body. [laughs] But too bad that she can't talk in the film!


Richard Ng is a veteran actor who has acted in many Hong Kong movies.

There's a scene when Min Chen was tied with a rope, making her body shape protrude in an obvious manner. Was that scene meant to serve as fan service?

Sin Hang: To be honest, we didn't think of making it into fan service, but after tying her up then only did we realised the effect it brings. [laughs]

Babyjohn: I can't believe you tell them such lies!

So Babyjohn, how is it working with the two directors, do you really think that they're one-sided when it comes to Min Chen?

Babyjohn: I noticed that when it comes to my scene, there is only one director there to guide me. But when it's Min Chen's scene, both directors are there to guide her! [laughs]

Siu Ho: See how unfair this movie is! [laughs]


Babyjohn Choi takes on the role of protégé while Chin Siu Ho acts as his sifu.

How about Min Chen, what do you have to say about the whole experience?

Min Chen: I'm very thankful to everyone for guiding me throughout the movie. When I first got the script, I got so nervous coming to Hong Kong because most of the cast are industry veterans that I respect very much. Chin Siu Ho looks very strict and fierce, so I got really scared at first. But in actuality, they are all very nice people and they always patiently guide me through my acting.

Who's the one that guided you the most?

Min Chen:
I guess because most of my scenes are with Babyjohn, so maybe it's him. But the two directors also constantly guide me, especially since my Cantonese is bad, the directors would use Mandarin to converse with me even though their Mandarin isn't very good. They're very accommodating and thanks to them, my Cantonese has improved a little bit.


Lin Min Chen does not have a single line in the movie.

I've heard that you had an accident during shooting?

Min Chen: Yes, after coming to Hong Kong, I got too excited, so I decided to try out the fire wheel, and I nailed it on the first try. So I thought that it is actually quite easy. So I was goofing around with it and got overconfident, but I ended up falling onto the road. That time, Babyjohn and the others were shooting another scene nearby, and then they heard the ambulance siren...

Babyjohn: Yeah, we were shocked to hear the sound of the ambulance, and when we got there, she was laying on the floor.

Siu Ho: The story actually goes like this, when she fell on the floor, all of us rushed to her, lined up as we want to take turn performing CPR on her! [laughs] I really wanted to do that, but I'm scared that if I do, my scenes from the movie will get cut by the directors. So we sent her to the hospital instead.


Chin Siu Ho is almost synonymous with Chinese vampire movies.

Siu Ho, are the martial arts and fight scenes hard in this movie?

Siu Ho: I don't think the scenes are hard, it's just teaching Babyjohn martial arts is harder. Although Babyjohn has acted in action movies before...

Babyjohn: But I'm usually the one who got hit. [laughs]

Siu Ho: But in this film, he had to fight with me and we have quite a lot of scenes of going against each other, so it's kind of hard because he's not a professionally trained martial artist. But he is very diligent and hardworking, and he's also naturally talented as he is able to take instructions well.


Babyjohn Choi previously acted in "Ip Man 3", "SPL 2" and "Heartfall Arises".

Too bad that you don't have any romantic scenes in this movie! Why didn't the directors give you a love interest?

Anthony: Because we wanted to focus more on the relationship between him and Babyjohn's character.

Siu Ho: I feel like it's such a pity that I don't have a single romantic scene with Min Chen!

What would you say is the hardest scene to shoot?

Anthony: I guess it's the scene where we have to shoot underwater. The scene is really hard to control. Also, in that scene, Babyjohn was really struggling as he was sick that day. Min Chen too is having a hard time because the weather is cold and she has to get into the water, and she also had this really thick vampire makeup on, so it's not very comfortable and putting it on also took like 3 to 4 hours. That scene was really one of the toughest.

Min Chen: Babyjohn and I really struggled in that scene. It's so hard! We have to be in the water the whole scene, I have to suck his blood and then we have to like spin and rotate in the water, it's very intense and hard to forget.

Siu Ho: I could've replaced Babyjohn if he told me that he wasn't feeling well! [laughs]


The cast and director at the media conference.

What are your hopes for this movie?

Sin Hang:
Well, since this movie has the elements of romance, horror, and comedy, I hope that it will make the audience laugh, scared and cry, and at the end of the day, they will walk out of the whole experience feeling satisfied.

Anthony:
I hope the audience can take away whatever that they find from the film especially the nostalgic feelings and accept them all with open arms.

Richard:
It is important that you pay to watch the movie! [laughs]

Babyjohn:
I hope that the characters in this film can leave a deep impression on the audience, because each character is lovable and unique in its own way, so I hope that the film will make the audience want to watch the movie over and over again.

Siu Ho:
Chinese vampire films have been around for ages, so this film is sort of a tribute to all those films from 30 years ago and also as thanks to all the fans of this genre. So what I hope is for everyone to keep on supporting this film, the cast and directors who took on the genre and fit it into the modern era. So if everyone is able to support this movie and genre, even 40 or 50 years later, Chinese vampire movies will surely never die.

Min Chen:
I really learnt a lot from this movie, everyone is so helpful and kind, there's so much precious memory in this movie. Like the director said, the movie has a lot of elements in it which everybody can enjoy. So I hope that the movie will have a sequel or a spin-off and I would definitely love to be part of it again. But for the next one, I do hope that I get to be a female vampire hunter instead!

Cinema Online, 03 April 2017


Related Movies:
Vampire Cleanup Department (Mandarin) (16 Mar 2017)
Sifu Vs Vampire (Cantonese) (23 Oct 2014)


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