Dracula Vampyre in Beijing is really bad. But the fun kind of bad. The acting is silly. The effects are reminiscent of Hausu (1977), but done digitally. I mean, so bad you have to be doing it on purpose, right? TikTok filters would be more realistic and cinematic. Set dressing looks like they’re filming all indoor scenes in the same hallway, with occult posters that look like they were printed out from the first seven low-res images you find on Google image search under “spooky occult.”
In a rock-fueled thrill ride, Li Mei (Liu Xiao Yan), a young woman on her birthday, is mesmerized by masked singer Dracula (director Tim Lies) at an underground metal concert she attends with vampire-cosplaying friends and her unbelieving boyfriend Zhao Guo (Hao Yi Bo). Later, the anglo, lipsticked man with the nightmare eyes comes to her. Her friends and family discover she has died. Or has she?
Most of the dialogue is Chinese with English subtitles, but Dracula and the cosplaying vamps all speak English when it suits them to sound occult. The occult stuff is nonsense, of course, but that’s true of most occult horror, isn’t it? Just when America does it, we use nonsense Latin.
“We are old school vampires. We live in the past,” say the cosplaying friends, and it’s true: their costuming is old-school in that it resembles 1970’s Halloween costumes. Pale faces, red lipstick, whitewhite fangs, flowy nylon black capes and heavy metal buttons.
Ah, yes, the heavy metal. The vampire’s band plays some pretty mean guitar riffs, and it has a definite Terrence Zdunich (cf Repo! A Genetic Opera) rock-opera vibe. Until, oh my god, Dracula starts to sing. Writer-director may have made this movie just so he could sing and nuzzle naked young women with plastic fangs, but he’s not getting an album deal off this. I feel like the singing was recorded without music, and combined with stock rock tracks with no consideration of if they went together in key or rhythm. This clownpire portraying himself as seductive simply ludicrous.
I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be funny. I hope so. Because it is. It has some moments, particularly when the police officer (Ivy Shan) joins the Scooby-like gang of friends trying to find out what really happened to Li Mei. “We think it was vampires,” she says. But later somberly soliloquizes on how believing in vampires betrays her love of her beloved country before accepting a silver bullet from Zhao Guo. “This is a real gun,” she points out.
The cast rounds out with some daughters of Dracula chained to a tunnel wall with paper chains (is this a cultural part of Chinese myth? “This’ll be funny haha” joke? Laziness? I am often unsure whether to watch this as Forbidden Zone or The Room. Are they actually in on the joke?) guarded by Igor (Will Matthews), with a pillow under his shirt and chomping a giant plastic cigar.
It’s fun, rarely drags, and if you liked Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, you might like this. I give it:
7 out of 10 Plastic Fangs
|Dracula Vampyre in Beijing|
|Runtime:|| 1 Hour 36 Minutes|
|Directed By:||Tim Lies|
|Written By:||Tim Lies|