Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme


Michio Yamamoto’s final attempt to plagiarize Hammer’s vaults, hit US screens in 1974 to mixed reviews. The plot concerns Professor Shuaki (Toshio Kurosawa) who arrives at a remote Japanese village to begin the term as a teacher at the local girls school. He is collected by the school Principal (Mori Kishida), and on the way is informed that the Principal’s wife was killed in a car accident only days before, and that she is lying in state in the school basement, as it’s “a local tradition”.
    No sooner has he settled in, Shuaki learns that he is to be appointed the new Principal once he has been groomed for office; he isn’t so sure he wants the job when he later learns that all past Principals have either died or grown insane. Strange singing (read whining) can be heard at night and a negligee-wearing vampiress wanders the dorms preying on the girls.
    Dr. Shimimura (Kunie Tanaka) tends the sick girls who start turning up with strange marks on their necks and reveals his interests in the dark myths of the area, including the legend of a European Christian who once visited the town and was tortured for his beliefs and made to renounce his faith. Left to wander the desert alone he survived by drinking his own blood, but later died and was supposedly buried in the local graveyard. Upon discovery the coffin remains empty. It is believed that he took a bride and the two fathered a child who today haunts the village in the guise of a demonic bloodsucker.
    Seeing the film in its original language with subtitles for the first time leads me to rate this a most satisfying romp: for all the wrong reasons. Whilst the film once more contains some grand European gothic imagery; crypts, bats, a bevy of beautiful Japanese vamps, cobwebbed corridors, thunderstorms etc. and a brisk pace which makes it fly faster than Yamamoto’s previous efforts in the Blood Thirsty Trilogy, it’s the hilarious dialogue of golden turkey proportion that most will remember the film for. When caught by the Principal investigating the basement coffin, Shuaki replies, “I’m sorry. I just wanted to see your late wife”. When Shuski discovers a floundering girl with streams of blood running down her neck (the camera instead zooms in on her exposed nipple) he says “You’re bleeding. Are you wounded?” and later when enquiring about a girl who is missing from class …”I hear a student has a bad cold. But then, she’s playing cards”. Well a cold does knock things out of you, I guess. There’s also a madman who roams the grounds quoting Baudelaire… “Kiss to retrieve the devil’s corpse whose blood you sucked” and when a girl screams and subsequently faints following a vision of blood, Shimimura announces “She studied too hard for the examination!” Classic stuff and there’s plenty more howlers where they came from.
    Viewers will also have fun pointing out the various scenes stolen from classic Hammer horrors ranging from “Lust for a Vampire” to “Curse of the Werewolf”. I’m not sure whether Artsmagic realised that this film is a campy classic but they ought to have a winner on their hands if fans of bad movies get wind of this vastly enjoyable popcorn accompaniment. Extras include all the features contained on their LAKE OF DRACULA DVD release and, once more, this release is in glorious widescreen. Buy it!

Carl T. Ford

 
EVIL OF DRACULA (aka Chi wo suu bara / Bloodthirsty Rose)

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