Rigor Mortis

Film, Horror
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Rigor Mortis

White-robed girls with long black hair. Spooky kids with pale, blank faces. Zombie corpses hopping and bouncing off the walls. Yes, all the clichés of Asian horror are rolled out – with tongue ever-so-slightly in cheek – for this bracing, bonkers slice of undead antics riffing on the beloved ‘Mr Vampire’ series of 1980s Hong Kong splatter comedies.

That franchise’s co-star, Chin Siu-Ho, plays Chin Siu-Ho, a washed-up horror film star who moves into a creepy, derelict tower block with the intention of taking his own life. But no sooner has he slipped the rope around his neck than the spirits start crawling out of the walls, and mad Mr Yau (Anthony Chan, another ‘Mr Vampire’ veteran) comes kung-fu kicking through the front door.

This is a sprawling, unfocused film, and much of its intricate mythology will befuddle those unfamiliar with Chinese folklore and the ‘Mr Vampire’ flicks. It can be overly nasty too, particularly a brutal flashback rape scene. ‘Rigor Mortis’ is worth seeing, though, for the eerie, grey-green photography, gorgeous animated effects and immersive attention to background detail.

There are breathtaking moments too: a ghostbusting scene that would have Dan Aykroyd whimpering in a corner; a scene of child murder that manages to pack in as much pathos as horror; and, most memorably, a wild, literally elemental finale that sees our hero battle a demon through walls of stone, mud, metal and fire. Mad, but worth seeking out.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Release date: Friday April 24 2015
Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Juno Mak
Screenwriter: Juno Mak
Cast: Chin Suit Ho
Kara Wai
Nina Paw
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