Vampire Cleanup Department (Gao geung jing dou fu) (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

The Vampire Cleanup Department is a task force that deals with Goeng Si, Chinese vampires, while being disguised as a regular trash and cleanup department.  Not long after Tim Cheung joins his uncle on the force, he meets with a sweet vampire named Summer who changes how he wants to do things.

Directed by Sin-Hang Chiu and Pak-Wing Yan, Vampire Cleanup Department is a horror-comedy in the vein of Mr. Vampire and a few others that came before it.  It’s a very non-serious take on the vampire and vampire-hunting genres that goes for fun over scares and manages this beautifully.   The vampires here are fast moving beings who want to be suck on their victims, but the crew in charge of eliminating them does fantastic work of subduing them and eliminating them.  The film keeps the story simple, adding a love story and a few extra characters and twists, but nothing particularly original or surprising.  However, it remains a fun watch throughout and the characters are interesting enough to keep the attention.

The characters, as mentioned above, are interesting enough to keep the attention, this is mainly due to the writing but also the performances.  The lead cast composed of Siu-Ho Chin, Hok-chi Chiu, Babyjohn Choi, and Min Chen Lin is charming and entertaining.  Their interactions are fun and their delivery allows the film to be funny without falling into sarcasm or parody.  Each one of them works on their character earnestly and gives them a honesty that makes the film amusing and comedic.  Truly shining here is Min Chen Lin as Summer, the bouncing female vampire that spurs an obsession from Tim and pushes him to find a new way of doing things, a way that might allow him to have her around for longer.  Her presence is one of those that give a film something extra, something making it worth seeing.

The film is one of those that looks clean and well shot, the IMDB page for it unfortunately does not have full credits and the film itself has its credit in Cantonese which makes them unfortunately inaccessible to this reviewer.  This to say, the cinematography and editing work well here and work together in a way that allows the film to look good while showing the action clearly, adding to the style of the film and its ease of watching.  The look is reminiscent of 1980s films with the action central to the story and well shown.

The effects here are mostly minimal until the final fight where more CGI is included.  This CGI actually looks good and is used sporadically during the film until this fight where it goes all out and mixes well with the aerial stunts shown.  The vampires in this film are of simple design, having pointy teeth but not much else different from humans.  There being no other monsters involved and not a whole lot of feeding for the vampires, the practical effects are somewhat minimal.

Vampire Cleanup Department is a fun film that could almost be a family film depending on how easily scared the viewing kids are.  It’s also an interesting and entertaining film for adults with humor that works on a few levels and some good nods to 1980s Asian vampire films and films in general.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 13th to August 2nd.