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The hopping dead

Chinese jiangshi vampires sprang into Hong Kong’s action scene, then bounced right back out

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Four images from Mr. Vampire, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, and Encounters of the Spooky Kind featuring vampires and vampire slayers in action

A Taoist priest grapples with a demon, using a lightning-emitting dagger to slice the chain wrapped around his neck. The succubus — who has taken the form of a beautiful human woman with a popped-out eyeball bulging out of a mass of loose brain — recoils in pain and bends down out of frame. When she snaps back up, her static-shocked hair stands on end like the quills of a porcupine. Her head then detaches itself from her neck, flies across the room, and gives a theatrical snarl.

This battle was just another day at the office around Golden Harvest, the Hong Kong film factory responsible for Mr. Vampire and many of the other gonzo horror-comedy-action mashups collected under the umbrella of jiangshi cinema. Through the 1980s and ’90s, a bizarre microgenre of lucrative oddities took shape around the undead ghouls referred to as “hopping vampires” in the English-speaking world for their distinctively goofy means of hopscotch-style locomotion. (They have to jump around, you see, because of the rigor mortis; “jiangshi” translates from Mandarin as “stiff corpse.”) These Chinese vampires didn’t turn into bats, they rarely had fangs, and they were often described as ghosts, but there’s unmistakable vampiric DNA in their parasitic feeding on qi, the energy of the soul. The stock baddies added their own mythos of physical attributes (pallid blue-green skin, with appearances ranging from the monstrous to the otherwise ordinary) and weaknesses (glutinous rice, hens’ eggs, sheets of paper inscribed with talismans) to a long literary heritage of bloodsuckers overlapping here with the regional folklore of China.

Most significantly, the jiangshi film continued the vampire’s collision of a medieval past with an unfamiliar present, as relics decked out in the hanfu wardrobe of the Qing dynasty rose again to bound through a booming, industrialized Hong Kong. A five-title collection now streaming on the Criterion Channel gathers some tough-to-find choice cuts from a canon that combined hallucinatory experiments with color, surreal slapstick, blistering kung fu, and innovative in-camera effects simulating the soul’s passage in and out of the body. More than delirious treats for obscurity enthusiasts, these wild films stand today as telling artifacts from a nation in political and cultural flux, negotiating tensions between religion and secularism, tradition and modernity, East and West.

A vampire hunter laughs at a jiangshi after sticking cotton swaps up its nose

The vampire had prowled Chinese fiction in various iterations as far back as the 18th century, first in Pu Songling’s supernatural anthology Liaozhai Zhiyi , a spiritual ancestor to The Twilight Zone in its pointed societal critiques via short-form suspense. 1936’s Midnight Vampire piggybacked on the popularity of the just-imported Dracula with a Europeanized villain, and that same year, Wuye Jiangshi saw the creatures as a hasty resolution to a family drama about greedy heirs. Advertised as “Filmed entirely on location in Hong Kong!” 1974’s The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires grafted the Shaw Brothers’ peerless martial arts prowess onto the Hammer Film model in an international co-production that saw director Roy Ward Baker regularly going berserk on day-wage actors who couldn’t understand his instructions.

The jiangshi film wouldn’t reach maturity until 1980 with Encounters of the Spooky Kind , the first to foreground the hopping menace as the fulcrum of a story rather than accessory to it. Sammo Hung, an unconventional leading man with his soft chin and a scar picked up from a broken Coke bottle in a street fight, directed himself as Bold Cheung, a kindly yet guileless fighting ace cucked by his wife with his employer. The philanderers send a legion of cold-blooded minions after him, though the typically episodic, threadbare plot mostly serves to line up feats of physical talent in both combat and humor. After a spell induces a jiangshi to mirror all of Cheung’s movements, the pair puts on a copycat homage to the Marx brothers’ classic bit from Duck Soup in a lineage of influence later including Sam Raimi, who borrowed a severed-hand gag for Evil Dead 2 . ( Encounters of the Spooky Kind II , a 1990 sequel produced and choreographed by Hung, has no real relation to the continuity, but features one lively sequence in which a zombie made out of cockroaches tries to bite off our hero’s penis.)

A vampire woman with a normal human face and a half with purple skin and fanged teeth from Encounters of the Spooky Kind

This friendly friction between disparate periods sculpted the contours of the Mr. Vampire series, the other key plank of the jiangshi picture’s heyday. The first was set during the pre-Communist juncture of the early 20th century labeled the Republican era, the second in the present day of 1985; in either instance, director Ricky Lau (with an assist from Hung as producer) located laughs and offhanded insights in the gap between antiquity and the now. In the franchise’s debut, the two boobish assistants of the obligatory priest-exorcist wind up at a Westernized tea ceremony hosted by a worldly businessman, who chuckles at their provincial cluelessness as they’re puzzled by black coffee. The transcontinental comedy of errors even bled into real life with Golden Harvest’s abortive attempt to produce an English-language remake led by Dallas star Jack Scalia and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, a costly disaster shut down by studio head Raymond Chow with the immortal declaration of “We started, but we need not finish.”

The follow-up went for broader culture-clash gags with a concept oriented around assimilation, as a little boy jiangshi roused from his age-old slumber must acclimate to the ’80s, aerobics jokes and all. While rip-offs piled up (most curious among them 1990’s Magic Cop , a cross-pollination of genres meant to capitalize on Jackie Chan’s name-making Police Story series), mission drift sent the Mr. Vampire films to some unlikely places, hindered by flagging interest in pacing or basic logic. The third movie is closer to a samurai saga than anything else, and the jiangshi take forever to show up in the fourth, though nothing compares to the unhinged fifth: Fetuses not carried to term come back as malevolent phantoms, one of which possesses a nanny in order to find a pregnant woman whose unborn child can provide a suitable vessel for the displaced spectral consciousness.

A little lower down on the budgetary food chain, Hong Kong got its own answer to Ed Wood in Z-movie maverick Godfrey Ho, famed for yelling “I can’t see you acting — more acting!” at one performer he deemed not far enough over the top. Robo Vampire brazenly purloined the beats of RoboCop , and got an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for it; the jiangshi in Ho’s The Vampire Raiders set their sights on a takeover of the hotel industry, and to that end, spend more time than perhaps necessary terrorizing bikini babes. One can almost see the genre shaking toward collapse as the director cut corners and costs, often sticking footage from Filipino, Thai, or mainland Chinese releases into his own work. If you assume that that would render his films near-incomprehensible, you’d be right — but it also enabled Ho to crank out multiple features toeing the line between “lovably slapdash” and “lazy” for the price of one.

The good times could not last forever, decisively ended by a pair of pivotal developments in the late ’90s. The handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997 signaled a turn away from a capitalistic pro-business permissiveness to a rigid secularism with no place for superstition. Seven months later, Golden Harvest founder Leonard Ho passed away, setting his shrinking empire on a track toward a full shutdown of production in 2003 to focus on financing and distribution.

The jiangshi would rate a mention here or there as a shibboleth for those versed in obscurer dialects of pop culture, cameoing in the What We Do in the Shadows TV show and commanding its own half-hour in a standout episode of the 2000 animated series Jackie Chan Adventures . But the hopping dead would never fully rise again, the chintzy yet resourceful mode of anything-goes filmmaking that allowed them to flourish soon overtaken by digital polish. Though, if the movies are to be believed, they’re only a single incantation away from a bouncy, bloodcurdling comeback.

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Den of Geek

The Weird History of A Chinese Ghost Story Franchise: Horror Comedy at its Wildest

The cult classic A Chinese Ghost Story launched a film franchise that heralded a new genre for Kung Fu Horror Comedy.

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A Chinese Ghost Story Franchise

When A Chinese Ghost Story premiered in 1987, it was already part of a unique category – the fusion of horror, comedy, and Kung Fu. Asian horror films are known as jiangshi , which is the name of a specific spooky hopping ghost found in Chinese folklore that proliferates these films.

Part zombie, part vampire, jiangshi are corpses that are usually reanimated by demons or Daoist sorcerers. They hop along mindlessly with their arms outstretched like sleepwalkers, and feed on the life essence – or qi – of the living. Often a jiangshi is blind but can smell breath. This makes for great comic hijinks as hapless characters struggle to hold their breath while gruesome jiangshi shove their rotting noses close to their mouths trying to pick up the scent.

Comedy is a common horror film device. It releases tension and leaves the audience unguarded for the next jump scare. The addition of Kung Fu is purely Hong Kong and can be traced to Sammo Hung’s groundbreaking Encounters of the Spooky Kind in 1980 . Adding martial arts action comes naturally because in Chinese culture sorcerers and exorcists are Daoist or Buddhist Kung Fu masters. In the wake of that film, Kung Fu Horror Comedies became a thing of its own with plenty of franchises , most notably Mr. Vampire .

If the horror, comedy, and Kung Fu menage a trois wasn’t enough, A Chinese Ghost Story was one of the first films of a then-burgeoning period genre called FantAsia. FantAsia is the Chinese answer to sword and sorcery flicks. It includes superhuman Kung Fu (which means lots of wirework and flying about), magic spells and supernatural beasts. FantAsia is based on a longstanding body of fiction in movies and literature known as Wuxia , which means ‘martial heroes.’ 

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A Chinese Ghost Story was produced by Tsui Hark, who spearheaded FantAsia with his Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain  four years prior to A Chinese Ghost Story , and followed with many other FantAsia classics like The Swordsman , Once Upon a Time in China and Green Snake . Ching Sui-tung directed all three A Chinese Ghost Story films and continues to deliver FantAsia films like The Sorcerer and the White Snake , but Tsui is the undisputed father of the genre. 

The Chinese Twilight Zone from the 1800s

A Chinese Ghost Story retells a beloved Chinese tale of star-crossed romance. All these Chinese Ghost Story films are titled Qian Nu You Hun in Chinese, which translates into “beautiful woman dark spirit.” This is the story of Nie Xiaoqian, drawn from a 1740 short story compilation titled Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling. These were stories of the supernatural world with covert social commentary, akin to The Twilight Zone today.

Tales from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio have been depicted in countless Chinese films and TV shows, most recently in last year’s CGI-drenched FantAsia flick The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang where Jackie Chan played Pu Songling. Nie Xiaoqian’s tale is a favorite having been retold in over a dozen TV shows and the films mentioned here.  

In the original tale, Nie is a beautiful ghost, doomed to haunt an abandoned temple and hunt for souls for a demon that has enslaved her. She tries to capture a milquetoast travelling scholar, Ning Caichen, who manages to free her from her curse and takes her home to help his sickly wife. After Ning’s wife dies, he marries Nie and redeems her. In Chinese folktales, supernatural beings often strive to become human. It’s a device to analyze what being human means, akin to the journeys of Data, Seven of Nine, and T’Pol in Star Trek . 

There was a notable adaptation of Nie’s tale in 1960. For that film, Qian Nu You Hun was translated as The Enchanting Shadow and was Hong Kong’s submission for Cannes and the Academy Awards. In the lead roles were two of the most popular actors of their generation. Nie was Betty Loh Ti, who died tragically to an overdose at just 31. Betty was a classic beauty, perfect for Nie, and this was her most celebrated role. Ning was Zhao Lei who enjoyed a long career of over a hundred films from the early 50s to the late 80s.

The Enchanting Shadow is a gorgeous film with sumptuous sets and costumes, which is what gave it such international appeal. It plays out almost like a European gothic horror in its gradual pacing and eerie Theremin soundtrack. With its international acclaim, The Enchanting Shadow set the stage for A Chinese Ghost Story 27 years later.

The Chinese Ghost Story Trilogy

A Chinese Ghost Story casts the alluring Joey Wang as Nie and heartthrob Leslie Cheung as Ning. Also in the cast are Wu Ma as the Daoist exorcist Yin and Lau Siu-ming as the androgynous Tree Demoness (Lau is male). The Tree Demoness steals the show like she plucks the hearts of her prey. Shifting between male and female voices, she attacks with entangling roots reminiscent of The Evil Dead (although she penetrates her victims through the mouth not other orifices). Her main weapon is her tongue, which grows so long that it wraps around her prey, cuts down trees and mutates into fangs and tentacles of Lovecraftian proportions.

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25 Fiendishly Funny Horror Comedies

Joey is entrancing, a seductive portrait of long flowing locks wrapped in diaphanous silk gowns. Everything is always blowing in the wind like Beyonce’s hair, lending a mysterious grace to Joey in every scene.

And Leslie is adorably naïve. Who can’t but sympathize for him getting smitten by mystical Joey and her luxurious eyebrows, even if she was trying to eat him? A Chinese Ghost Story was pre-CGI so the special effects are dated: stop motion zombies, puppet tongue prosthetics, post-production glowy effects and lots of wire work. But there’s a certain charm to the cleverness of the effects. It’s old school filmmaking and although it looks dated now, it still works.

Three years later, the cast was reunited for A Chinese Ghost Story II . It picks up where the original left off. Leslie is still the innocent Ning, thrust in a horrid world. To show the brutality of his environment, there’s an early homage to Yojimbo , with a stray dog fetching a severed human hand.

Ning is in trouble from the start. He accidently sits down in a restaurant for cannibals, and then gets thrown in jail. After Elder Chu (Ku Feng) helps him escape, Ning gets mistaken for Chu by his gang of rebels. One of the gang members is Windy, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Nie because she’s played by Joey Wang. Ning is smitten again.

New to the cast is another Daoist wizard named Autumn (Jacky Cheung) and his frenetic energy ramps up the comedy and action.

The sequel quickly goes to a lot of fun places with absurd fight choreography, Daoist and Buddhist magic, amorous naked hijinks, crazy flying sword blades and a hysterical giant gloppy demon puppet that’s tenuously held captive by a Daoist freezing spell. And the reveal of the main demon is over-the-top strange and hilarious. 

A Chinese Ghost Story III  came out the following year, but it’s a break from the narrative. In the first film, the Tree Demoness was banished for a century, so the threequel skips forward to a century later, outliving Ning and the other good characters. Lau Siu-Ming reprises his Tree Demoness role and Joey Wang returns as another beautiful ghost named Lotus. She’s joined by her sister ghost Butterfly (Nina Li, Jet Li’s wife). Jacky Cheung returns but as a different character, the Taoist exorcist Yin. It’s the same name as Wu Ma’s character in the first film because Jacky plays Yin’s rejected student. 

Replacing the lovelorn Ning is a bumbling Buddhist disciple, Shifang (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and his master Bai Yun (Lau Shun). Their relationship adds its own comic relief. Early on, Shifang is splattered with blood while witnessing a random roadside sword fight, just like what happened to Ning, while Bai Yun meditates obliviously.

Although the weakest of the trilogy, the special effects have improved over the years. The Tree Demoness’ tongue lickings are more vicious, including a tongue’s eye-view as it deep throats its prey and swims down to pluck out its heart. Lotus attacks with her entangling locks and Butterfly uses telescopic fingernails.

Instead of Daoist sorcery, there’s more Buddhist magic: restraining sutra wraps, flying carpet cassocks, magic malas, and blood so pure that it is gold. And who can forget Bai Yun’s enchanted earlobes? The finale demon reveal is the strange bastard child of a Transformer and a Kaiju that doesn’t quite work but by then, things have gotten so outrageous that it doesn’t really matter.

More Haunting Chinese Ghost Stories

Tsui Hark returned to the romance of Nie and Ning in 1997 for A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation . That was during a pivotal year for Hong Kong because it was the handover when it ceased being a British colony and was returned to China. Consequently, Hong Kong cinema was on fire. Filmmakers had no idea what would become of their industry under communist China, so they were producing their edgiest political work as many tried to immigrate to other countries in fear of having their artistic vision oppressed. 

Hark had been working on the project for years and the animated format allowed him to unleash his vision like never before. This story stands independent of the others, but revisits characters developed for the threequel.

Ning and Nie are the same, although Nie is translated as Shine. Nie Xiaoqian translates to “whispering little lovely” so it’s unclear why Shine was chosen for the English language version. Other characters are translated literally like White Cloud and Ten Miles (translations of Baiyun and Shifang). Also appearing are Butterfly and the Tree Demoness, renamed Madame Trunk, along with her creepy bald minor demoness entourage.

Zu: The Movie That Inspired Big Trouble In Little China

Replacing Master Yin is a new Daoist exorcist named Red Beard who travels in the bizarre magical giant transformer with temple bells for arms, a drum for a torso and barrels for legs. There’s also Mountain Evil, a giant rock star like demon that holds a concert and is obsessed with his hair. There’s a lot of music in this installment.

And Ning has a dog sidekick, Solid Gold, who serves as a comical canine conscience. For the Chinese versions, Tsui Hark voiced Solid Gold, which is funny because he only makes dog noises like barks and whimpers. 

Like the threequel, Ning finds himself in a cannibal restaurant but this time, it’s not in the normal world. This one is filled with demons. A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation is a deep dive into the yaoguai world.

Yaoguai means “supernatural and strange.” Fans of Asian cinema know it better from the Japanese term Yokai. It’s the world of magical creatures – fairies, demons, ghosts, immortals, enchanted snakes and foxes – different from the elves and gnomes found in Western folklore.

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Hark’s animated film was echoed in Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning Spirited Away four years later. A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation transitions between conventional and CGI animation, which was groundbreaking then but comes off awkward today. It has its visionary moments but pales in comparison to the artistry of Spirited Away . 

In 2011, a remake came out, appropriately titled A Chinese Ghost Story 2011 and answered the question “What would  A Chinese Ghost Story  look like with today’s eye-popping CGI special effects?” Sadly, it doesn’t help despite a stellar cast.

Nie is played by Crystal Liu, who just appeared in the titular role in Mulan , but she falls short. Crystal is China doll cute, but she lacks the mystery needed for a haunting ghost. Ning is Yu Shaoqun. Like Leslie Cheung, Yu is a pretty boy singer, but doesn’t add much to the role beyond eye candy.

The Tree Demoness is veteran actress Kara Hui, who usually delivers gripping performances, but here she reduces the character to a cackling maniacal wicked witch that is strangely unsatisfactory.

There’s some redemption in the Daoist exorcists, which have a completely different and complex story arc. There are two, Yan Chixia, played by a brooding Louis Koo, and the one-armed Xia Xuefenglei, played by Louis Fan. The remake doesn’t capture the charm of the originals and the effects are unimaginative. This isn’t to say that this version is totally negligible. It has some moments like the villagers getting infected after rerouting water from the tree demon’s pool which makes them grow leaves. The villagers provide good comic relief. The sword fights are amusing too. The duel between the two Louises is high flying Kung Fu fun. The film is dedicated to the memory of Leslie Cheung, who tragically committed suicide by jumping off a building in 2003. 

Despite the title, A Chinese Ghost Story isn’t frightening. There’s nothing in any of the films that might keep one up at night. It’s a haunting tale of undying romance, retold with visionary action and hilarious slapstick moments that, apart from some splattered demon ichor, is family friendly, with about the same level of frights as the Ghostbusters franchise. But be warned. A Chinese Ghost Story opens the portal to the psychotropic genre of FantAsia Kung Fu horror comedies. Once entered, there are hundreds of films in this genre that can possess a viewer for months of binging.  

A Chinese Ghost Story and A Chinese Ghost Story II are available on Amazon Prime.

Gene Ching

Gene Ching is a 32nd generation layman disciple of the original Shaolin Temple of China and was the publisher of Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine until…

Extended Navigation

Hopping vampires and beautiful ghosts: a brief history of chinese horror, pt. 1.

Chinese horror films might not be internationally renowned — and indeed, they are frowned upon in today's Chinese film industry — but they have a rich history, with roots in ancient folklore, featuring stories of ghosts, zombies, monsters, and magic, full of creepy crawlies and psychedelic weirdness.

chinese jumping ghost movie

In this first of a two-part series, Tristan Shaw takes a look at some influential early Chinese horror flicks.

(update: part 2 here .).

chinese jumping ghost movie

Ghostly love stories, Category III sleaze, kung-fu fights with zombies (僵尸 jiāngshī) — Chinese horror might not be very well-known internationally, but its output has produced a pretty diverse and spooky bunch over the years. While there aren’t that many Chinese horror movies being made today, and censorship laws frown on the genre on the mainland, horror has had a long history in the Chinese movie industry. Its roots stretch back to the country’s folklore and literature, and arguably nobody has influenced the genre more than a Qing Dynasty-era writer named Pu Songling 蒲松龄.

During his lifetime (1640-1715), Pu collected and wrote hundreds of supernatural-tinged stories, later published in a book after his death called Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio  聊斋志异 (liáozhāi zhì yì). These stories — with their depictions of demons, ghosts, and monsters — have inspired a countless number of Chinese filmmakers. The story “Niè Xiǎoqiàn” 聂小倩, for example, gives us the model seen in movies like A Chinese Ghost Story 倩女幽魂 (qiànnǚ yōuhún), where a human falls in love with a beautiful woman who turns out to be a ghost.

Pu’s stories seem to have been adapted for the screen as early as 1922 , and while there were also martial arts movies of the time  that starred ghosts, pinpointing the earliest Chinese horror movie is a tricky question. According to film historian Huang Ren  黄仁, one Chinese precursor of the genre might be Zhuangzi Tests His Wife  庄子试妻 (zhuāngzi shì qī), a 1913 drama about the ancient Daoist philosopher featuring a grave, suicide, and some ghostly special effects. The same year, the pioneering director Zhang Shichuan 张石川 released The Impermanent Ghost  无常鬼 (wúcháng guǐ), a comedy about a troublemaker who pretends to be a ghost. Even though neither shorts were apparently horror movies, their supernatural imagery and themes would pave the way for the genre.

By the 1930s, Chinese filmmakers were making movies that can definitely be considered horror. The year 1934 saw the release of The Body Snatchers  盗尸 (dào shī), a silent Hong Kong movie about two friends who steal the treasure-filled coffin of a dead rich man. Two years later, the film industry in Hong Kong came out with its first   jiangshi  (literally,” zombie,” but it can refer to any sort of reanimated dead) movie, Midnight Vampire  午夜僵尸 (wǔyè jiāngshī), a revenge story about a man who returns from the grave after being murdered by his older brother. Other Hong Kong horror flicks of the time featured  a cannibalistic army wife, an evil scientist who creates dwarfs and giants, and a pack of female vampires who terrorize the city’s streets.

On the mainland, director Ma-Xu Weibang 马徐维邦 worked to develop the genre more than anybody else in the country’s movie industry. Ma-Xu — a gloomy and quiet man who lost both his parents while only a boy — made movies during the 1930s with titles like Walking Corpse in an Old House 古屋行尸记 (gǔwū xíng shī jì) , Poet’s Soul in the Cold Moonlight  冷月詩魂 (lěng yuè shī hún) and The   Leper Girl  麻疯女 (má fēng nǚ). In 1937, Ma-Xu directed one of China’s greatest horror movies, Song at Midnight  夜半歌声 (yèbàn gēshēng) . A loose adaptation of Phantom of the Opera , Ma-Xu’s take includes revolutionary themes and gloomy, Expressionist visuals. His version of the phantom is a man named Song Danping, a former opera singer and revolutionary whose ghost is said to haunt a theater where he used to perform. Since Song’s death, the theater’s become abandoned, but that doesn’t stop an acting troupe from coming to visit it for inspiration. They end up disappointed, but one of the actors — Sun — meets Song and discovers that the old star had faked his death.

It turns out that Song had been burned by a romantic rival, scarring his handsome face. Ruined, Song managed to put on a phony funeral to escape the public, but his “death” caused the woman he loved to go insane. As the troupe gets ready to put on their next show, Song is tragically forced to confront the past he left behind, leading to a deadly showdown with the man who destroyed his life. While undeservedly obscure outside of China, Song at Midnight  has had a strong influence on Chinese horror. It’s been remade four times, most memorably in 1995, when Leslie Cheung 张国荣 played the phantom. Even today, Ma-Xu’s original is highly regarded, so much so that the Hong Kong Film Awards even included the movie in its list of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures  in 2005.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, horror movies in China became few and far between. Censorship was tight, and given the brutality and violence of the war, not many theatergoers were probably in the mood for gruesome entertainment. Ma-Xu Weibang did make a sequel to Song at Midnight  in 1941, but his work on Eternity  万世流芳 (wànshì liúfāng), a pro-Japanese propaganda piece, would taint his reputation on the mainland. After the war’s end, Ma-Xu relocated to Hong Kong, working until his death in 1961, when he was hit and killed by a bus .When Ma-Xu left the mainland, it was nearly as though the horror genre left with him. Due to the Communist authorities’ strict guidelines, horror movies became dead on the mainland, with only Hong Kong continuing the genre.

Well into the 1970s, it was mostly stories of ghosts, along with the tales of Pu Songling, that thrilled Hong Kong horror fans. In 1960, Shaw Brothers Studio adapted Pu’s Nie Xiaoqian story into The   Enchanting Shadow  倩女幽魂 (qiànnǚ yōuhún), a beautifully gothic rendition that would later inspire A Chinese Ghost Story . Throughout the rest of the decade, Shaw Brothers would release several other horror movies, some of them using the basic man-loves-ghost formula from Nie Xiaoqian. During this time, the studio also remade   Song at Midnight , releasing it in two parts in 1962 and 1963. With the exception of The Enchanting Shadow , none of these movies were particularly good. Ironically, it would take a ridiculously dumb collaboration for the Shaw Brothers to better their understanding of the horror genre.

In 1974, the studio teamed up with Britain’s Hammer Films to make The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires , a mash-up of kung-fu and Western-style vampires. It’s a very goofy movie, pitting Van Helsing and a Chinese family of martial artists against a group of vampires and their personal undead army. Still, the movie’s combination of kung fu and horror was unique for the time, and its nudity and violence were more graphic than domestic horror movies. Influenced by Seven Golden Vampires  and American stabs at the genre, horror filmmakers at Shaw Brothers and other Hong Kong studios began to up the ante when it came to blood, taboos, and sex. That same year, the Fong Ming movie company released Blood Reincarnation  阴阳界 (yīnyáng jiè), an underrated anthology utilizing plenty of blood, several scantily-clad women, and a possessed baby who bites his father’s finger off. (You can watch the movie on YouTube, or just the scene starting here .)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u51qgNCyPAE

In terms of sheer nastiness, the Shaw Brothers’ output during this time takes the cake. The studio’s new cauldron of horror movies , like Black Magic  降头 (jiàng tóu, 1975) and Hex 邪 (xié, 1980), were obsessed with the occult, mixing up bodily fluids, curses, magicians, and creepy crawlies in exotic Southeast Asian settings. Even by modern standards, these movies are flat-out disgusting at times. Centipede Horror  蜈蚣咒 (wúgōng zhòu) from 1982 depicts women who throw up centipedes that then proceed to eat them, while Corpse Mania  尸妖 尸妖 (shī yāo shī yāo), a not-so-subtle title from director Kuei Chih-Hung 桂治洪, stars a serial killer who practices necrophilia.

Kuei built a reputation for pushing some of the most disturbing — and strangest — images on Hong Kong screens. His 1983 movie The Boxer’s Omen  魔 (mó) is the highpoint of the Shaw style of shlock. In the opening scenes, its hero Chan Hung watches his brother get crippled during a boxing match by a dirty Thai boxer. The next day, Hung meets with a gang, who throw him a sack containing his uncle’s dismembered body. The thugs try to kill Hung, but he’s miraculously saved at the last minute by the ghost of an abbott named Qing Zhao. Later, Hung learns that Qing was a pious man who nearly achieved immortality before being stabbed and poisoned in the eyes by magical spiders.

In a past life, he was also Hung’s twin, and now Qing wishes to help him and…honestly, the plot only grows more incomprehensible from here, and words can’t adequately describe the psychedelic weirdness of The Boxer’s Omen . It was truly the peak of Shaw’s horror offerings, and after the studio ditched movies for TV, one of its last. While Hong Kong delighted in this modern, explicit horror, director Yao Feng-Pan 姚凤磐 focused on more traditional, ghostly fare in Taiwan. Yao was inspired by Chinese folklore and Pu Songling, and made a bunch of ghost movies during the 1970s and 1980s. King Hu 胡金铨, the director of the wuxia  classic A Touch of Zen  侠女 (xiá nǚ), was also a fan of Pu. A Touch of Zen  was based on a Pu story, and so were the director’s Legend of the Mountain 山中传奇 (shānzhōng chuánqí, 1979) and  Painted Skin 画皮之阴阳法王   (huàpí zhī yīnyáng fǎwáng, 1993), the latter a purely horror movie.

Of course, Pu remained an influence in Hong Kong as well, but the next stage of Hong Kong horror rose out of a movement that would revolutionize the city’s movie industry: the New Wave. Next week, we’ll discuss the influence of Hong Kong New Wave filmmakers on Chinese horror, look over the jiangshi  boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and examine more modern horror fare from the Chinese-speaking world.

Hopping Vampires and Beautiful Ghosts: A Brief History of Chinese Horror, Pt. 2

Film Friday  is The China Project’s film recommendation column. Have a recommendation? Get in touch: [email protected]

Tristan Shaw is an American writer who enjoys folklore, film, and history. You can follow him on Twitter @Tristan89201760 Read more

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TOP 9 Must Watch Hong Kong's Chinese Vampire Movies | Featuring the famous - Lam Ching Ying

chinese jumping ghost movie

Talking about classic ghost/horror movies, the first impression everyone's gonna have is the Chinese Hopping Vampire movies. Long braided hair, pale face, sharp teeth, and they move around by jumping with their hands up in the front. Different from the Western kind of ghost movies, Hong Kong took the theme in a very different direction - spooky but hilarious!

Here are the Top 9 of Hong Kong's Chinese Ghost movies that you must watch! Especially during the Chinese's Hungry Ghost Month.

Starting off the count with a series of . It was so successful that they made 6 sequels after the first one. (Harry Potter huh?)

#1  Mr. Vampire (1985)

Rating : 8.2 / 10

Why this : If you are afraid of watching ghost movies, this might be a good place to start. The film was produced in the 80's, with a very limited technology and resources available to them. Therefore, many times you might see flaws in the film. But the story was well planned out, with loads of funny scenes lined up, which is why it is very well recommended to any first timers. Also, the film features the famous Hong Kong late actor, Lam Ching-ying. It is said that he represents the entire Hong Kong ghost movies industry, and everyone will think of him when they brought up this topic. 

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#2 Mr. Vampire (1992)

Rating : 7.6 / 10

Why this : Featuring the same casts from the first Mr. Vampire, and added another talented female comedy actress, Sandra Ng, you are sure to laugh all the way throughout the film. Not as scary, but it definitely has some goosebumps scene, as the movie was focusing on exorcising a baby/child ghost, and we all know how scary this topic is gonna be.

https://gss2.bdstatic.com/9fo3dSag_xI4khGkpoWK1HF6hhy/baike/c0%3Dbaike92%2C5%2C5%2C92%2C30/sign=491bbdc09f13b07ea9b0585a6dbefa46/c2cec3fdfc0392456461dbee8b94a4c27c1e257e.jpg

#3 Mr. Vampire II (1986)

Rating : 7.1 / 10

Why this : Out of all the Mr. Vampire series, this is by far the most heart-warming ones. The Vampire Family has no intention of harming human in the beginning, and you can even see the son of the Vampire family playing with human child. But due to some adult's greed, the family was separated and thus they attacked in order to get back together. If you are watching with a children, this is definitely a better option.

https://d3rwyinxzcqr6y.cloudfront.net/Assets/11/639/L_p0097563911.jpg

#4 Mr. Vampire III (1986)

https://d3rwyinxzcqr6y.cloudfront.net/Assets/19/838/L_p0100783819.jpg

#5 Mr. Vampire III (1988)

Rating : 7.8 / 10

Why this : The best sequel by far - it was said that the sequel of Mr. Vampire were not as good as the first one, but this sequel is definitely considered a runner up. Although Lam Ching-ying is not featured in this one, but all the cast members were also very good actors/actresses and they successfully bring this sequel on to a different level. The film included more cultural aspects which is good if you are interested to find out more about the culture, and they have added in a lot of new elements. There's plenty of fight scenes in this sequel and many agrees that it is the funniest sequel. 

https://d3rwyinxzcqr6y.cloudfront.net/Assets/17/504/L_p0103550417.jpg

#6 Vampire VS Vampire (1989)

Why this : Although they have changed the name of the film, but it is still considered as a part of the Mr. Vampire sequel. Now this is definitely an un-ordinary Lam Ching-ying's ghost movie, featuring not only the Chinese Hopping Vampire, but also, the Vampire from Western culture. It is the pioneer in including a Western element in Chinese ghost film industry and with this movie, it has opened up huge possibilities to the entire industry. 

https://d3rwyinxzcqr6y.cloudfront.net/Assets/39/201/L_p0104220139.jpg

#7 Magic Cop (1990)

Why this : Also a part of the Mr. Vampire sequel, this time they feature not only the usual Taoist Exorcist, but also a Japanese Exorcist and also a police. The fighting scene between Lam Ching-ying and Michiko Nishiwaki was awesome, flawlessly smooth and exciting! Although in terms of popularity, this film was definitely on the down point, as there were too many movies at that time with similar theme. But still it is a very good one, and is highly recommended. 

https://img.cos56.com/1712/10/01/a40e06b6001cae77296f6d03bd5da5be.jpg

#8 The Haunted Cop Shop (1987)

Rating : 7.0 / 10

Why this : Personally, I think the name of this film should be "The Haunted Police Station" but anyway, you get the gist. Featuring the young Hong Kong famous singer, Jacky Cheung, and the famous comedy actor, Ricky Hui, these 2 leading actors is super hilarious! The story happens in Hong Kong Police Station, which you can witness the social culture in Hong Kong. The film has a lot of goosey point, but it is not as scary, which suits those who like a light-scare-tease but a lot of laughter. 

https://i1.fuimg.com/10086/6dc7840505024f8a.jpg

#9 Spooky Encounters (1980)

Rating : 7.4 / 10

Why this : The oldest among the nine films listed here. Featuring the famous Sammo Hung, who is very well known for his martial arts roots. Naturally, you gonna witnessed plenty of fighting scenes in this one, not a serious kind, but a hilarious kind of fighting. This film was said to be one of the earliest comedy-ghost film in Hong Kong, and it has inspired many following films. And Sammo Hung also went on to produce Mr. Vampire after this film. This film has definitely set a new trend to Hong Kong's ghost movie industry, which has now became an all time classic. 

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The Palgrave Handbook of the Vampire pp 1–21 Cite as

Scared Stiff: Jiangshi and Chinese Vampires

  • Katarzyna Ancuta 2  
  • Living reference work entry
  • First Online: 30 July 2023

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This article discusses the vampiric representation of the jiangshi in Hong Kong and Chinese cinema. The paper argues that while the jiangshi is a monstrous creature in its own right, over the years it has undergone a number of changes to align it with Western vampires. The article begins with a brief discussion of the jiangshi as a literary trope introduced in Chinese stories of the strange, particularly those written during the Qing period. The paper then examines three major shifts in cinematic representation of the creature from its early appearances in the 1980s Hong Kong cinema where it is compared and contrasted with Western vampires, and its post-Handover evolution that follows two different trajectories – reinventing the jiangshi as a pan-Asian horror icon and utilizing it as a tool of the Chinese government anti-superstition propaganda.

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Ancuta, K. (2023). Scared Stiff: Jiangshi and Chinese Vampires. In: Bacon, S. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of the Vampire. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-82301-6_38-1

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2nd December 2015    By All About History Team

Chinese Hopping Vampires: The Qing Dynasty roots behind the Jiangshi legend

chinese jumping ghost movie

Now a cult obsession thanks to Hong Kong horror movies of the 1980s and 1990s, the legend of the hopping vampire was first detailed in a series of supernatural reflections compiled between 1789 and 1798 by Ji Xiaolan (also known as Ji Yun) and collected posthumously in an 1800 volume entitled  Yuewei Caotang Biji (閱微草堂筆記) – it’s English-language translation being the rather beautiful Random Notes at the Cottage of Close Scrutiny .

Referred to as Jiangshi (殭屍) – meaning “hard or “stiff”, Jiangshi was a word originally used to mean “corpse” – this cursed soul was stiffened by rigor mortis and unable to move beyond a hop, like some undead pogo stick, with its arms stretched out in front of it for balance.

Their skin was greenish white, often in a state of decay and they were most commonly depicted in the officious uniform of a Qing Dynasty bureaucrat. Held up against the folk terrors of western popular culture, the hopping vampire is closer to a shambling zombie than an erudite castle-dwelling count, but the growing influence of Western horror movies and the enduring home-grown myth of the hungry ghost (餓鬼) introduced bloodsucking to the Jiangshi’s repertoire.

As with all folkloric beasties, the Jiangshi accrued a litany of details. They can be repelled by mirrors, the call of the rooster, the hooves of a black donkey, and the wood of the peach tree, while the deceased’s devilish transformation can be caused by improper burial, magical rituals, suicide, or possession.

The real origin story is almost as bizarre. It was common during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) for migratory workers labouring far from their ancestral home to be returned for a proper burial when they passed away, lest their departed spirits grow homesick.

Lacking the funds for transportation, the grieving families would pay a ‘corpse driver’ to do the job with necromancy. This corpse-driver was said to magically bind the wrists, ankles and knees of the cadaver, forcing it upright, and then with a long stick would prod and poke the corpses so that they hopped home under their own steam. Other accounts talk about the rhythmic banging of the drum providing the direction instead.

These hopping corpses would travel at night to minimise the decay, while the priest leading the procession rang a bell to deter onlookers – to gaze upon a Jiangshi was considered bad-luck, even before they took to snacking on human blood.

These rows of the recently deceased were actually transported on bamboo poles, lined up like old shirts on a clothes rack, and carried through the night on the shoulders of two men. The flexing of the bamboo poles as they passed by created the illusion of the corpses ‘bouncing’ when viewed from afar.

Other accounts of corpse-drivers detail a single figure in heavy robes, his face concealed by mourning masks, who carried the cadaver on their backs – a man in front lighting the way with a single lantern and calling out obstacles to the poor chap at the rear.

Already cloaked in superstition and mystery, it’s not hard to see how this peculiar legend came to pass, inspiring ghost stories, horror movies and anime alike.

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Jiangshi: Hopping Zombies Of Chinese Folklore Explained

jiangshi artwork

Share the Lore!

By: Alex Postrado

The Chinese Zombie That Sucks Out Your Soul

The rest of the world may have been taken over by stories of ghouls , vampires , and zombies , but for about two millennia, East Asia has had jiangshi.

Dressed in formal Chinese garbs which are outright as historic as their origin story, jiangshi hop 一 quite literally 一 from ancient legends into modern pop culture.

Saturating the Chinese horror genre with films, TV shows, and video games that feature them as either villains or 一 surprise 一 even comic relief characters, distinctively known for their iconic clothing, stretched-out arms, and… cadaverous look?

Yes, jiangshi are some type of undead.

Yet, while that’s a fact, their presence and influence in Chinese culture, on the other hand, are certainly far from breathing their last.

As a matter of fact, if anything, jiangshi have only enlivened in the years leading to this day.

But what makes jiangshi these striking creatures of lore?

What made them both a cult obsession in China since the ’80s and ’90s, as well as an eerie reminder of one of the most momentous times in all of Chinese history?

What are Jiangshi?

According to Chinese folklore, going out for a stroll at night puts you at risk of meeting a jiangshi.

In the most basic of terms, jiangshi are revenants .

Reanimated corpses , but with a twist!

Instead of staggering about as zombies do, jiangshi move around by hopping 一 earning them the epithets “ hopping corpses ” and “ hopping vampires “.

But, if you think we are talking about some weak, pitiful hops, let me stop you right there.

These so-called hops are said to be nifty enough to make jiangshi suddenly appear in front of you!

And there is an interesting reason for that.

Jiangshi are said to be such “ excellent jumpers ” because they have someplace they aim to promptly reach.

Unfortunately for them, their bodies are rendered “ stiff ” 一 except for their arms, which they extend out for extra mobility.

But, basically, if they want to go somewhere, they would have no other choice but to hop their way to it.

This detail of the jiangshi lore is exactly what gave the creatures their name.

In Chinese, the character read as “ jiang ” 一 seen in the name “ jiangshi ” 一 literally means “ stiff ” or “ hard “.

The name could also be spelled geung-si, kang shi, or chiang shi , depending on the region.

While the monster itself also pops up, from time to time, in stories from other countries 一 like, in Japan, where they are known as kyonshi , in Vietnam as cương thi , in Indonesia as vampir cina , in Malaysia as hantu pocong , and in Thailand as phi dip chin .

But how do you compare jiangshi with their more popular Western revenant counterparts, the zombies?

Mr. Vampire movie image

Well, there are several ways to do that. And first on the list has something to do with their appearance.

Unlike zombies, Jiangshi are said to wear a distinct type of garment.

Simply described as a “ uniform coat-like robe ” and a red “ round-top tall rimmed hat “, this specific type of clothing could remind one of what Chinese officials used to don during the Qing dynasty.

Moreover, other depictions show jiangshi having a paper talisman 一 sometimes referred to as fulu 一 hanging off their foreheads.

The paper Talisman of the Jiangshi

Furthermore, their hair is said to be white and long; their tongue and fingernails 一 black and dirty.

And their skin also calls up nothing of the ordinary 一 with a deathly greenish-white hue to it, caused by mold that grows on their already decaying bodies.

Another way that defines jiangshi is how they are said to be made.

Chinese culture believes that in every soul, there is a hun and a po.

Hun refers to the spiritual, more heavenly, part of the soul and po is all about the material, more corporeal , piece of it.

When a person dies and the po “ fails to leave the deceased’s body “, a jiangshi is born.

Although others claim that jiangshi are, in fact, mindless and soulless creatures — implying that there are other ways one can create or even turn into a jiangshi.

Jiangshi’s powers are also a point of intrigue among many 一 especially due to some, suggesting that with enough acquired energy, a jiangshi can shapeshift into a wolf or even fly.

So, how does a jiangshi acquire energy?

Simple 一 by killing humans and other living beings .

Not the way you might assume, though!

Despite the “ vampire ” reference in its name, as well as their comparability with zombies, jiangshi don’t drink blood nor devour brains and flesh.

Instead, they suck out the life force 一 also known as the qi 一 of their victims until none of it is left.

Good thing, jiangshi only go about at night as they fear sunlight , so we still have the chance to keep our qi safe and away from the threat of the hopping corpses.

Jiangshi drawing

How to Defeat the Jiangshi?

While jiangshi are uniquely dangerous foes to come across with, cinematic references show holding one’s breath to be an effective way of foiling their attack.

And that’s a fairly easy escape if you’d ask me!

But, believe it or not, there are actually a number of other ways to defeat 一 or, at least, ward off 一 jiangshi.

One of which is by carrying items made of peachtree wood.

Zong Lin explains in his book, The Jingchu Suishiji , that since peach is the “ essence ” of the five elements, it can “ subjugate evil auras and deter evil spirits”.

Another thing that can scare off evil in an instant is the sound of a rooster’s call , as it typically signals the rise of the sun 一 of which most sinister entities are afraid.

As for jiangshi, specifically, mirrors could also do the job since they are said to be “ terrified of their own reflections “.

Setting the corpses on fire, bearing the hooves of a black donkey, and nailing seven jujube seeds onto particular acupuncture points on the back of the corpses are also believed to work well in keeping jiangshi at rest 一 among other methods which commonly include the use of stuff like a bag of coins; a broom; an ax; a handbell; a stonemason’s awl; some vinegar; adzuki beans; glutinous rice; a black dog’s blood; a thread marked with chicken blood, black ink, and some burnt talisman; the Bagua sign; and several others.

Chinese Folklore’s Long History with the Jiangshi

If we would track down the origin of jiangshi , it would take us to one of the earliest written records mentioning it.

The text What the Master Would Not Discuss 一 otherwise known as Xin Qixie or New Strange Events 一 by Qing Dynasty scholar Yuan Mei , as well as another Ji Yun work, titled Fantastic Tales , explored the lore of jiangshi and its roots by tying it to events that happened during the unification of China.

Back then, the country’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang , was still in the process of conquering the rest of China.

His forces were fought off by local warriors who resisted his visions of unification. But, a lot of these warriors 一 along with other workers of the time 一 frequently ended up dead in the battle .

The thing about this was, these people often came from various poor 一 usually far-flung 一 parts of the country.

And when they die, those who could not afford any means of transport had almost no chance of having their deceased bodies sent back home to their grieving families.

So, as a way to solve that, people commonly hired Taoist priests to perform rituals to reanimate corpses and allow them to return on their own 一 and by foot 一 to their bereaved loved ones.

Several scholars also cite the influence of a practice called Xiangxi ganshi in the development of the lore of jiangshi.

In this, the corpses would be “ arranged upright in single file ” and “ tied to long bamboo rods on the sides ” while two designated men carry them at night to transport their bodies back to their respective hometowns.

It is said that seeing this practice in action from a distance could give someone the illusion of literal “ hopping corpses “.

As time went on, though, and as western folk stories and influences reached China, the lore of jiangshi likewise evolved 一 taking us to the image of jiangshi that we commonly see in pop culture today.

Tapping more on the vampire element, as seen in hit films of the ’80s and ’90s jiangshi craze.

Nevertheless, for over a thousand years and counting, jiangshi remained a prominent supernatural figure in Chinese folklore.

And whether it is as a foreboding entity in the Chinese horror scene or as a grim relic of the deaths from a distant past , these hopping corpses clearly drive home the message that there is no stopping their force anytime soon.

References:

Boogeyman: child-abducting terror from nightmares(true origin), a guide to the witches of greek mythology, privacy overview.

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Ancient Origins

The Living Dead: Chinese Hopping Vampires

  • Read Later  

The Hopping Vampires (jiang shi) are a type of undead creature found in Chinese folklore. Although its Chinese name is often translated as ‘Chinese hopping vampire / zombie / ghost), its literal meaning is ‘stiff corpse’. These creatures may be identified by their attire – the uniform of a Qing Dynasty official. Additionally, the jiang shi is recognizable by its posture and movement. The arms of these creatures are permanently outstretched, apparently due to rigor mortis , and they hop, rather than walk. As a result of the stiffness in their bodies, there are many ways to turn a corpse into a jiang shi, and as many ways to defeat them. These undead creatures appear in quite a number of Chinese films.

What are Jiang Shi?

While most jiang shi share the same type of attire, bodily posture, and mode of movement, variations also exist among these creatures. For example, some of these beings look like normal humans, while others are a little more decomposed as a result of being dead for a longer period of time. Yet others have been depicted with sharp teeth, long nails, and emitting a green phosphorescent glow. In some versions of the story, jiang shi are said to be able to grow stronger, thus allowing them to acquire skills such as flying and transforming into wolves.

chinese jumping ghost movie

A Chinese vampire. ( The Paranormal Corner )

How a Jiang Shi is Created

There are apparently many ways for a dead body to turn into a jiang shi. For instance, according to one version of the myth, a jiang shi is created when a person suffers a violent death, for instance, suicide, hanging or drowning. Such deaths cause the soul to be unable to leave the body, thus resulting in a reanimated corpse.

Another belief is that a corpse may become a jiang shi if it is not given a proper burial. For instance, if a burial was postponed after death, a dead body may become restless, and return to haunt the living. Another supposed way of a corpse turning into a jiang shi is that it fails to decompose even after burial. Corpses that have been struck by a bolt of lightning or hopped over by an animal (particularly cats) are also said to turn into this undead creature.

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Some Truth to the Story?

Stories about the jiang shi are not entirely without basis in fact. During the Qing Dynasty, efforts were made to return the bodies of Chinese workers who died far away from home back to their place of birth. This was done so that their spirits would not grow homesick.

It seems that there were those who specialized in this trade and handled the transportation of the corpses back to their ancestral homes. These ‘corpse drivers’, as they are called, are said to have transported the dead at night. The coffins were attached to bamboo poles that rested on the shoulders of two men. As they went on their journey, the bamboo poles would flex. Viewed from afar, this would look as is the dead were bouncing on their own accord.

Traditional Chinese funeral march, circa 1900.

Traditional Chinese funeral march, circa 1900. ( Public Domain )

It is from here that rumors about reanimated corpses began. Initially, it was speculated that the ‘corpse drivers’ were necromancers who were able to magically reanimate the corpses of the dead. Under the supervision of the ‘corpse drivers’, the dead would hop back home.

This was done overnight to minimize the decay of the body. Additionally, travelling at night meant that there would be a lower chance of encountering the living, and meeting the dead is considered bad luck. For added measure, a priest with a bell is said to lead the procession, thus warning people of their approach.

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How to Defeat a Hopping Vampire

The jiang shi are commonly said to come out at night. To sustain themselves, as well as to grow more powerful, the jiang shi would steal the qi (life force) of living victims. The living, however, are not entirely defenseless against these creatures. There seems to be several ways to defeat a jiang shi, these include:

  • the blood of a black dog
  • glutinous rice
  • showing it a mirror because it fears its reflection
  • chicken eggs
  • throwing money on the floor (they’ll stop to count it)
  • the urine of a virgin boy
  • holding one’s breath
  • sticking a Taoist talisman on its forehead
  • a rooster’s crowing

chinese jumping ghost movie

Illustration of a jiang shi. ( CC BY SA )

During the 1980s, the jiang shi was a popular subject in the film industry of Hong Kong. While these undead were often featured as antagonists, they have sometimes been depicted as more human-like, and at times even served as comic relief!

Top Image: Detail of an Illustration of a jiang shi. Source: CC BY SA

By Wu Mingren

Updated on October 28, 2021.

Andrew, 2012. Chiang-Shih – Chinese Hopping Ghosts!. [Online] Available at: http://www.paranormal-encounters.com/wp/chiang-shih-chinese-hopping-ghosts/

Hoare, J., 2015. Chinese Hopping Vampires: The Qing Dynasty roots behind the Jiangshi legend. [Online] Available at: http://www.historyanswers.co.uk/people-politics/chinese-hopping-vampires-the-gruesome-origin-of-the-jiangshi-legend/

Ireland, T., 2011. The History of Chinese Zombies. [Online] Available at: http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2011/07/night-of-the-hopping-mad/

tvtropes.org, 2016. Chinese Vampire. [Online] Available at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChineseVampire

vampiresaroundtheworld.weebly.com, 2016. Vampire Legends in Asia. [Online] Available at: http://vampiresaroundtheworld.weebly.com/asia.html

dhwty's picture

Wu Mingren (‘Dhwty’) has a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History and Archaeology. Although his primary interest is in the ancient civilizations of the Near East, he is also interested in other geographical regions, as well as other time periods.... Read More

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A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

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COMMENTS

  1. Chinese Hopping Vampire (jiang shi /殭屍) films

    When a Manchu prince named Kao is killed by his nemesis after 14 years of hiding, his young orphan friend and prodigy becomes allies with two strange sorcerers who teach him their craft in order to obtain revenge. Director: Chi-Hwa Chen | Stars: Hao-Yi Liu, Yat-Chor Yuen, Ching Cheng, Jeong-suk Guk. Votes: 35. 35.

  2. Jiangshi

    A jiāngshī (simplified Chinese: 僵尸; traditional Chinese: 殭屍; pinyin: jiāngshī; Jyutping: goeng1 si1), also known as a Chinese hopping vampire, is a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore.It is typically depicted as a stiff corpse dressed in official garments from the Qing dynasty, and it moves around by hopping with its arms outstretched.

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  4. Jiangshi fiction

    Jiangshi fiction, or goeng-si fiction in Cantonese, is a literary and cinematic genre of horror based on the jiangshi of Chinese folklore, a reanimated corpse controlled by Taoist priests that resembles the zombies and vampires of Western fiction. The genre first appeared in the literature of the Qing dynasty and the jiangshi film (traditional Chinese: 殭屍片; simplified Chinese: 僵尸片 ...

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    Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. ... A Chinese Ghost Story II Chinese 倩女幽魂 II人間道 is a 1990 Hong Kong romantic comedy-horror film directed by Ching Siu-tung and produced by Tsui Hark. It is the sequel to A Chinese Ghost ...

  8. 'Mr. Vampire': The definitive jiangshi movie

    The resulting movie, the landmark Mr. Vampire (僵尸先生 jiāngshī xiānshēng) (1985), was produced by Hung and directed by Ricky Lau (刘观伟 Liú Guānwěi). Made over five months, with shooting in Taiwan and Hong Kong's New Territories, Mr. Vampire went over its original budget nearly twofold. The plot of the movie concerns Master ...

  9. Halloween special: what are Chinese hopping zombies? Meet jiangshi, the

    The movie that's widely credited with kicking off the jiangshi craze was 1985 comedy horror flick Mr Vampire, which established many of the genre's most recognisable tropes.

  10. Vampires & Ghosts: A Brief History of Chinese Horror, Pt. 2

    From killer butterflies and hopping zombies (in a movie nominated for Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards) to dismemberment, cannibalism, and worse levels of exploitation and sleaze, Chinese horror films in the last four decades have taken a smorgasbord of configurations and forms — with different degrees of silliness and scare. In this second of a two-part series, Tristan Shaw takes a ...

  11. Vampires & Ghosts: A Brief History of Chinese Horror, Pt. 1

    Chinese horror films might not be internationally renowned — and indeed, they are frowned upon in today's Chinese film industry — but they have a rich history, with roots in ancient folklore, featuring stories of ghosts, zombies, monsters, and magic, full of creepy crawlies and psychedelic weirdness. In this first of a two-part series, Tristan Shaw takes a look at some influential early ...

  12. TOP 9 Must Watch Hong Kong's Chinese Vampire Movies

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  13. Scared Stiff: Jiangshi and Chinese Vampires

    This article discusses the vampiric representation of the jiangshi in Hong Kong and Chinese cinema. The paper argues that while the jiangshi is a monstrous creature in its own right, over the years it has undergone a number of changes to align it with Western vampires. The article begins with a brief discussion of the jiangshi as a literary trope introduced in Chinese stories of the strange ...

  14. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

    A Chinese Ghost Story: Directed by Siu-Tung Ching. With Leslie Cheung, Joey Wang, Wu Ma, Wai Lam. After a string of bad luck, a debt collector has no other choice than to spend the night in a haunted temple, where he encounters a ravishing female ghost and later battles to save her soul from the control of a wicked tree demon.

  15. Chinese Hopping Vampires: The Qing Dynasty roots behind the Jiangshi

    A Chinese funeral, circa 1910. These hopping corpses would travel at night to minimise the decay, while the priest leading the procession rang a bell to deter onlookers - to gaze upon a Jiangshi was considered bad-luck, even before they took to snacking on human blood. These rows of the recently deceased were actually transported on bamboo ...

  16. Jiangshi: Hopping Zombies Of Chinese Folklore Explained

    According to Chinese folklore, going out for a stroll at night puts you at risk of meeting a jiangshi. In the most basic of terms, jiangshi are revenants. Reanimated corpses, but with a twist! Instead of staggering about as zombies do, jiangshi move around by hopping 一 earning them the epithets " hopping corpses " and " hopping vampires

  17. All Chinese Horror Movies

    Browse every chinese horror movie here at All Horror. Whether you like chinese horrors or chinese thrillers, you'll find them all at the biggest horror movie database online. ... Movies w/o Jump Scares; Movies for Newbies; Movies for Gorehounds; Horror Movie Trilogies; Movies like; Top 10; News; Reviews; My Watchlists; Sharable Lists; Submit ...

  18. 5 of the best and scariest Chinese horror films to watch

    This legendary Chinese ghost film was used as a yardstick by young Chinese horror movie directors against which to measure their works. Made for 700,000 yuan, its box office take was five times ...

  19. Chinese Horror Movies

    1. L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (2016) 13+ | 118 min | Animation, Action, Adventure. 5.1. Rate. An orphan becomes the disciple of a powerful sorcerer and is drawn into a larger conflict among the world's magical elite. Director: Jingming Guo | Stars: Bingbing Fan, Kris Wu, Cheney Chen, William Chan.

  20. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) Original Trailer [FHD]

    Directed by Siu-Tung Ching. Starring Leslie Cheung, Joey Wang and Wu Ma.Blu-ray (Amazon) https://amzn.to/45566UZAKA:A Chinese ghost story: I demonernas våldA...

  21. The Living Dead: Chinese Hopping Vampires

    The Living Dead: Chinese Hopping Vampires. The Hopping Vampires (jiang shi) are a type of undead creature found in Chinese folklore. Although its Chinese name is often translated as 'Chinese hopping vampire / zombie / ghost), its literal meaning is 'stiff corpse'. These creatures may be identified by their attire - the uniform of a Qing ...

  22. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

    There is a good bit of drama and romance (between the scholar and ghost), mixed in with some comedy and horror scenes (from the tree devil). To top it off, the film has a beautiful music score composed by James Wong and features two songs sung by Sally Yeh and the film's leading protagonist, Leslie Cheung.

  23. Chinese ghost movie

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