Vampires are a lot like the ketchup of genre fiction: people think you can add them to anything and you have a brand new taste sensation. Occasionally, though, you get something so insane the script had to have been scraped off the walls of one of your better asylums. It should come as no shock that one of these was the Godfrey Ho-helmed The Vampire Raiders a.k.a. Vampire Raiders Ninja Queen.
More Accurate Tagline: It’s Ninja vs. Vampire for Control of the Home Owners Association!
Guilty Party: Did you not see the name “Godfrey Ho” up there? The noted auteur is back again, and he’s suffered another head wound. For some reason, he wrote and directed this thing under two different aliases, like he’s on the run from film critics. This has Ho’s trademark style, which is basically that the movie feels like something a four-year-old shouted at you after mainlining twenty pixie sticks.
Synopsis: Trying to write a synopsis of a Godfrey Ho movie is like trying to convince a jittery mall security guard not to tase you. You just have to get through the situation knowing that sooner or later, you’re going to be sputtering nonsense on the floor.
The Vampire Raiders exists in two different realities. It’ll cut back and forth between them, sometimes in the middle of a scene, because fuck you, that’s why. That’s seriously the only reason. Scientists once tried to measure Godfrey Ho’s attention span and accidentally discovered quantum singularities.
In one reality, the Red and Purple Ninja battle the Black Ninjas and their leader, the Yellow Ninja. And yes, they’re named after the color of their ninja suits. You’d think that a profession whose only purpose is clandestine assassination wouldn’t run around in a screaming yellow onesie, but you would be wrong. At this point, I think Godfrey Ho understands ninjas less as a job and more as an ethnic group. The weirdest part is that the ninjas can spontaneously power up, making their suits and swords appear out of a burst of smoke. Look, don’t ask.
The Red Ninja is ostensibly our heroine, and she’s a sharp-featured blonde woman who enjoys karate fights, sunbathing, and murder. There’s a little bit of handwringing in the beginning about a stolen document that will take down the Purple Ninja Organization, but that gets resolved quick. Also, what document is bringing down ninjas? Are they worried about an expose on the news? What isn’t resolved is that the Black Ninjas are in league with vampires. And since this is a Chinese movie, they’re those hilarious hopping vampires that have somehow never appeared as the tortured love interest in a YA series.
The main reality, though, concerns three young women who work as switchboard operators for a major hotel in town. These women, Elsie, Joyce, and Betty, stumble on a plot by their dick of a boss, Mr. Ho. He’s an agent of the Black Ninja Clan, who with the assistance of hopping vampires, is involved in some kind of real estate scam. The young operators, with the help of their chubby friend and a weird stalker, decide to stop them. They manage to thwart the assassination of their boss’s boss (attempted through the most un-ninja un-vampire method ever, a car bomb), which nets them a day off on a boat.
The boat turns out to be evil. Of all the luck, right? Some growling Raimian monstrosity in the engine room turns the crew into hopping vampires, then vanishes from, fuck it, what I’m calling the narrative. These two vampires basically re-enact every episode of Scooby-Doo with the folks on the boat, until they’re finally thrown overboard. Good triumphs.
Well, after the Purple and Red Ninjas defeat the Yellow Ninja and his vampire pals in a final duel. Look, it’s a Godfrey Ho movie. That’s as coherent as it gets.
Life-Changing Subtext: Vampires and ninjas are super into real estate.
Defining Quote: “I’ve never heard anything so silly! Must be all those nuclear explosions.” You probably want some context. It’s not going to help. It’s going to make it so much worse. Okay, so this line is uttered by Elsie’s mother after Elsie tells her about having seen a pig fall off a roof onto an elderly couple, the culprit behind which were vampires.
Not a solitary word of that was made up.
Standout Performance: It’s impossible to know who played who, as Godfrey Ho applied his usual passion for detail to the credits list. Whoever played Mr. Ho is my favorite in the film, mostly because he’s such a blatant creep throughout, I have to wonder how he managed to slip through life without the cops raiding his house for the locker of human meat he’s obviously keeping in there.
What’s Wrong: Are you fucking kidding me? Did you miss the part where vampires and ninjas are battling over real estate?
Flash of Competence: The fights aren’t bad in that ‘80s kung fu kind of way.
Best Scenes: It’s not so much a scene as the sound design as a whole. First off, the music for the three switchboard operators sounds like a late ‘70s/early ‘80s sitcom theme. Like the camera is going to find Ted Knight in his living room complaining about all these zombies and ninjas interrupting his golf game.
One of my favorite scenes is when the three switchboard operators are trying to decide what to do about their newfound knowledge. You know, the conspiracy of ninjas and vampires to control the real estate market. Jesus, it hurts typing that. So Joyce isn’t worried because she “has a friend that’s a ninja.” Are ninjas normally out to their friends? Do they come out? Is there a party? Are people debating over the rights of ninjas to marry? Anyway, they decide against calling the cops, because they’ll be fired. And not, you know, because they believe in ninjas and vampires. Instead, they decide to do it on their own.
Okay, so on the boat, they need urine from a virgin to defeat the vampires. No, seriously. Alex, the creepy stalker (yes, they let him on the boat) admits to being a virgin. He pisses in a convenient container, then attempts to fight the vampires with it. It doesn’t go well, making me wonder why this was a plot point in the first place. Then I remembered that plot points are for lesser directors. It does end with the awesome line of Alex asking if he’s in heaven, and one of the ladies responding, “Of course not, we’re all here.” Like everyone knows they’re going straight to hell because they just sent him out there to fight vampires with a bucket of his own terror-piss.
Transcendent Moment: The final battle — which occurs a good 20-30 minutes after we’ve been on the boat with the switchboard operators and completely forgotten about the Red Ninja — really sums up everything about this movie. It’s not even the whole thing. It’s one shot, when the Purple Ninja arrives to assist. Instead of flipping around through the trees, or doing that hilarious tippy-toe run, he goes sliding across the ground on his face, like he’s just been lubed up and hurled onto this air hockey table we call planet Earth. Godfrey Ho probably intended it as yet another way the ninja is inhumanly graceful, but his train of thought hit a whole herd of feeling-buffalo on the tracks, sending the whole bleating mass tumbling into the ravine below. We’re left with a scene that basically looks like some asshole in a bright purple ninja suit being dragged through the woods from the back of an ATV.
Come on, of course you should watch this one. It’s crazier than a guy breaking into your home to take a dump in your crisper. And there’s a lot less clean up. Just remember, if the vampires and ninjas want your hotel, watch out for car bombs.