If you’re like me, you may be suffering Hollywood vampire overload with recent projects like Twilight, True Blood and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Now, our Asian brethren have also gotten into the act. Just this month alone, we’ve seen the vampire-themed films Blood: The Last Vampire and Thirst (opening in select theaters tomorrow). So while vampire consciousness pervades our culture, this is a prime teachable moment and a good opportunity for me to once again offer practical advice that could save your life. This time–about what you should do in the event you are attacked by an Asian vampire.
All vampires share an insatiable lust for blood but beyond that, there are distinct differences between the Caucasian bloodsuckers and their Asian counterparts. And knowing what those differences are is key. You may have your crucifixes and garlic and think you’re ready for any vampire attack. Perhaps you’ve never even given thought to being attacked by an Asian vampire because you live in the good ole U.S.A. Well, that attitude can get you killed, my friend.
Ever since the U.S. amended the immigration laws in 1965, Asian vampires have been immigrating to America in record numbers. They could be lurking in that dark alley behind that Chinese restaurant you really like, just waiting for you to walk out so they can pounce all over you and suck out your sweet nectar of life.
It’s important to understand that the traditional methods we know for warding off or killing vampires are rooted in the Christian tradition. The crucifix, holy water, the rosary—these are all proven tools in the fight against the Nosferatus among us.
The problem is these symbols may prove useless against Asian vampires because Christianity does not have the roots in Asia that it does in Europe and America. But you might be thinking—what if it’s a Korean or Pilipino vampire? Since Christianity is so prevalent in those cultures, isn’t it likely that a vampire of either ethnicity would be susceptible to Christian-based weapons?
Not necessarily. In Thirst, a Korean Catholic priest turns into a vampire but he shows no sign of weakness around the usual Christian symbols. My theory is that these things will have no affect on Asian vampires even if they are Christian for the same reason they will affect Caucasian vampires even if they aren’t Christian. It all comes back to what I said earlier about traditions and roots. Christianity just doesn’t have the same power and dominance in Asia. And are you really going to tell me that you can tell the difference between a Korean vampire and a Chinese one? Or a Pilipino vampire and a Mexican one? That’s one risk I wouldn’t take.
But what about non-religious weapons like garlic. In almost every vampire legend, garlic is a powerful tool against our denizens of the darkness. But you have to also assume garlic will be useless. Think about it—let’s say a Korean vampire comes after you. Do you really think holding up a clove of garlic will stop it? The dude has been eating kimchi since the day he was born. He’s going to be immune to it. Hell, he’ll probably just take your garlic and eat it along with some peppers, which he’ll wash down with your blood. No, thank you.
The most common method of killing a vampire in the Western tradition is with a stake through the heart. Logic says this should work on the Asian variety too, but again, I don’t think it’s 100 percent foolproof. In Thirst, the vampires are pretty resilient. In one scene, the priest/vampire has another priest put his hand through his chest and grab his heart and it doesn’t bother him at all. If some dude’s hand can go through your chest to your heart and you’re cool with that, there’s a good chance that a stake is going to be useless.
As far as I can see, there are only two guaranteed Western methods for taking out these yellow-skinned fang-inators: decapitation and sunlight. I don’t care how much of a bad ass you are, if you got no head, you aren’t going to be a threat (well, unless you’re the Headless Horseman, I guess). The sunlight thing is a little tougher because you have to somehow trick the vampire into staying out until the sun rises without killing you. Be resourceful and smart—you might be able to trick a cosmopolitan Korean vampire by taking him out for soju and norebang, but that probably wouldn’t work for a peasant Hmong vampire who might be too scared of and/or unaccustomed to modern electronics and indoor plumbing.
Luckily, there is a tradition of vampires in Asian culture that might prove useful. For example, in the Philippines, you have a creature called the mandurugo—a vampire-like monster that takes the form of a beautiful woman by day but turns into a hideous, angry creature with huge bat-like wings at night (actually, I think I dated that once). In Malaysia, you have the Penanggalan. In Bali, the Leyak. And so on. But the most famous of the Asian vampires is probably the Chinese Jiang Shi—reanimated corpses that can hop/jump great distances and made popular in Hong Kong films like 1985’s Mr. Vampire.
So how does one protect oneself from a Jiang Shi? Throw a handful of rice grains in front of the jiang shi and it will stop to count the grains. It’s that simple—just carry a lot of rice on you at all times and just throw it. No decapitations, no waiting for sunrise—just rice. Leave it to the Chinese to simplify something that Westerners have convoluted.