vampiresJapaneseKunie Tanaka
Evil of Dracula
Also known as: Chi o suu bara
Medium: film
Year: 1974
Director: Michio Yamamoto
Writer: Ei Ogawa, Masaru Takesue
Keywords: The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, horror, vampires
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Toshio Kurosawa, Mariko Mochizuki, Kunie Tanaka, Shin Kishida, Katsuhiko Sasaki, Mio Ota, Mika Katsuragi, Keiko Aramaki, Yunosuke Ito, Yasuko Agawa, Tadao Futami, Susugu Katayama, Kazuya Oguri, Haruo Suzuki, Midori Takei
Format: 83 minutes (or 81 in the US TV version)
Website category: Japanese old
Review date: 20 June 2022
It's the best of the three Bloodthirsty Trilogy films. The first two could both be a bit boring sometimes, but this one's actually quite creepy. Shin Kishida plays a new vampire (still not Dracula, but also unrelated to the one in the previous film). He's the headmaster of a girls' college, from which apparently a girl or two goes missing every year. If vampires are involved, this body count seems implausibly low. Our hero is Professor Shiraki (played by the rugged Toshio Kurosawa), a psychology teacher from Tokyo who'll be surprised to hear that he's expected to be the school's next headmaster.
(Kurosawa disliked horror, incidentally, and only did this film on condition that he wouldn't have to watch it.)
There are plenty of Brides of Dracula, who tend to be creepier than the full vampires. Gaping at the camera in plastic fangs isn't scary, but it's another to be in the room with a white-faced girl who's still alive and mortal but no longer quite herself. If Kishida's bitten her boob, she'll be wanting more of that and she'll be pretty intense about it. (Yes, the trilogy's moved on from biting necks. It's 1974, so Toho Studios are following the fashion for nudity in horror films.) There are unnerving moments. A corpse's hands might reach up as soon as Shiraki turns around. There are roses that like blood, which is never explained (despite being in the Japanese title) but is still obscurely unsettling. The film builds atmosphere even with details as minor as a door that opens and closes for unclear reasons. The confined school setting is a little claustrophobic. Also, the violence isn't restricted to biting, but also includes scissors, axes, hot pokers and a dirty great knife in the neck.
The script's reasonably good and only has one Idiot Horror Movie Moment. Shiraki's just arrived at the school and has been told that the headmaster's wife was instantly killed in a car accident two days ago. You'd expect the body to be a mess... but Kishida is keeping it in a coffin in his house. When Shiraki wanders off alone, gets nearly attacked by two female vampires and then finds that coffin, he opens it (eh?) and feels the mysteriously undamaged corpse's hands (huh?). Firstly, does he want to die? Secondly, surely that's rude and disrespectful to the bereaved husband.
There's no bad acting and the day-for-night shooting is less laughable this time. (They didn't do it on a sunny day with strong shadows.)
It's not a particularly deep film, but it's a little different from the standard vampire template. Kishida wanting to make the hero his successor has implications that aren't entirely clear but suggest something a bit more complicated than the usual vampire life cycle. Also, again, there's an imaginative vampire demise at the end, with a little emotional touch.
It's pretty good. Maybe the Shiraki-Kishida fist fight at the end drags on a bit, but otherwise the film's fine. It's a Hammer homage and thus tame compared with a lot of what was going on elsewhere in the 1970s, yes, but it's a good example of its genre. It's gorier than usual for Toho at the time. If you like Hammer horror, it's worth a look.