'The Bloodthirsty Trilogy: Special Edition'
(Kayo Matsuo, Midori Fujita, Toshio Kurosawa, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray / NR / 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Inspired by the runaway success of the British and American gothic horror films of the sixties, Toho studios brought the vampiric tropes of the Dracula legend to Japanese screens with The Vampire Doll, Lake of Dracula, and Evil of Dracula three spookily effective cult classics collectively known as 'The Bloodthirsty Trilogy.'
Blu ray Verdict: In 'The Vampire Doll' (1970), a young man goes missing after visiting his girlfriend's isolated country home. His sister and her boyfriend trace him to the creepy mansion, but their search becomes perilous when they uncover a gruesome family history.
Keiko (Kayo Matsuo) and her friend try to find her missing brother after he disappeared on a trip to visit his girlfriend Yuko (Yukiko Kobayashi). They don't get very far as Yuko's mother claims the brother ran away after finding out Yuko had been killed in a car wreck the week before his visit.
But Keiko finds signs that she might be being lied to - namely, a doll that her brother had purchased and, oh yeah, she sees Yuko's corpse walking around at night! This Toho production is a unique Japanese take on vampires and so fans of suave vampire types will be disappointed at this film's low body count, sorry!
'Lake of Dracula' (1971) begins with a young girl suffering a terrifying nightmare of a vampire with blazing golden eyes. Eighteen years later, the dream is revealed to be a hellish prophecy when a strange package containing an empty coffin mysteriously turns up at a nearby lake.
The film is interesting to say the least and it's definitely a different take on the vampire myth, especially with the setting being in a lakeside resort somewhere in Japan!
Overall, the movie contains some worthwhile and intriguing aspects. For example, the lead antagonist does an excellent job in his portrayal and the women who are transformed into vampires have a seductive, exotic aura about them.
However it ultimately fails to build up a genuinely creepy atmosphere and the abundance of plot holes and ridiculous ideas really make this movie far too silly to be taken seriously.
In the last of the trilogy, 'Evil of Dracula' (1974), a professor takes up a new post at an all-girls school only to discover the school's principle conceals a dark secret and the pupils are in grave danger.
Now, although this is a standard vampire story, the fact that it is entirely Japanese results in a few curious details. For example, a white rose is seen by the bedside of each of the females who have been bitten.
Once they drink blood the rose turns red. I thought that was an interesting touch. Having said that though, I thought there were a couple of faults as well.
First, the dialogue was awful. But the movie I saw was originally in Japanese and dubbed in English and it is quite possible that much had been simplified or even lost in translation. Likewise, the acting was also quite bad.
Even so, this film had a different flavor than most other vampire movies and I thought some of it was actually quite good. Obviously, there will be people who might not like this film. Like I said, it has its flaws, but I think fans of this genre (and this entire trilogy therein) might be pleasantly surprised. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles
Kim Newman on The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, a new video appraisal by the critic and writer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp