More trash from Thomas Tang’s notorious Filmark International. THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE contains much of the same disjointed, rapid-fire insanity of Tang’s ROBO VAMPIRE, his best-known work. Of course it also contains much of the awfulness of that film, and in fact may be even worse.
This 1989 Hong Kong-Canadian co-production is packaged on DVD as COUNTER DESTROYER, but the onscreen title is THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE (so that’s what I’m calling it). It’s very much in keeping with the other productions of Mr. Tang, in particular his ROBOCOP rip-offs ROBO VAMPIRE (1988) and DEVIL DYNAMITE (1987). Those films feature a hilarious silver poncho wearing Robo-dweeb who also turns up near the end of THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE.
A screenwriter named Joyce moves into an old house, together with her friend Cindy. Joyce is looking for a quiet place to finish her latest script, a biopic about the last emperor of China that’s “so significant it may just turn around my whole career.”
At the same time a spunky private investigator named Jackie gets entangled in the doings of some nasty criminals. As for Joyce’s producer/boyfriend, he gets harassed by a band of hopping vampires but manages to fight them off with the help of a white robed priest.
Joyce and Cindy find themselves manhandled by a tenth-rate Freddy Kruegar wannabe, a razor glove wearing twerp who claims he was once a king and now needs the blood of a mortal woman to be reborn. He kills Cindy and taunts Joyce thusly: “You’ll never finish your script!”
Jackie’s investigations grow steadily more dangerous, involving a daring kidnapping undertaken by a gang of violent thugs, and culminate in the large-scale shoot-out on a boat. Joyce, alas, isn’t doing nearly as well, having become possessed by the Freddy Kruegar wannabe. As such she tries to attack her boyfriend. He luckily turns into a ROBOCOP clone and, together with a vampire kid who bursts out of Joyce’s stomach(!), vanquishes the vamp.
Much like ROBO VAMPIRE, Thomas Tang’s “best” film (relatively speaking, anyway!), THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE appears to be composed of two (or more) separate films spliced together. But then again maybe the production was so haphazardly planned and/or sparsely budgeted that it was shot with no regard for traditional continuity, with the “plot” cobbled together in the editing. Or maybe Tang and director Edgar Jere (whose only film credit this is) just didn’t know what the Hell they were doing—or didn’t care!
The film is a mess, in short. But I can’t say it’s not entertaining. It may be confusing and downright schizophrenic in its constant shifts between splatterific horror and ultraviolent action, but it’s also extremely fast moving, and is at least consistent in the sheer ineptitude of the entire production (although the climactic shoot-out, it must be admitted, isn’t all bad). Terrible (and very likely inaccurate) English dubbing is a constant, as are truly inept performances and screechy synthesizer music.
It’s typical for Asian films to rip off more successful Hollywood productions, but it’s fairly rare when one cribs from several—in this case A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, MR. VAMPIRE, THE EXORCIST and ROBOCOP—making THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE worth a look for those who like their bad movies really bad.
THE VAMPIRE IS ALIVE (a.k.a. COUNTER DESTROYER; THE VAMPIRE IS STILL ALIVE)
Director: Edgar Jere
Producer: Thomas Tang
Screenplay: Roger Markham
Cinematography: Arthur Brush
Editing: George Lewis
Cast: Cynthia Rose, Tony Job, Harriet Browne, Bob Poe, Mick Taft, Andrew Brook, Mark Ford, Janet Watts, Patrick Court