Evil of Dracula

02/24/2019 17:24

Film: Evil of Dracula (Chi o suu bara)

Year: 1974

Director: Michio Yamamoto

Writer: Ei Ogawa and Masaru Takesue

Starring: Toshio Kurosawa, Mariko Mochizuki and Kunie Tanaka



This was a film I didn’t know much about, but when my local theater was showing this trilogy of Japanese vampire films, I decided to check all three of them out. Much like the previous film, I had seen the trailer once and wasn’t sure too much about it coming in. I’ve now given it a rewatch as part of my Foray through the Fours and it was streaming on Screambox.

Synopsis: a teacher assumes a position at a school where some of the young women are turning up missing.

I want to lead off stating that I altered the synopsis a bit as it contained a spoiler. We start the film with professor Shiraki (Toshio Kurosawa) getting off a train. He goes inside and asks when the next bus is and learns that there isn’t one until the following day. He goes outside and a man pulls up to take him to the school. He is Professor Yoshie (Katsuhiko Sasaki) and teaches at the school as well. He is the right hand to the principal. On the way to the school, they see a car accident on the side of the road. Shiraki learns that it was the principal’s wife that died in it.

They arrive and meet with the principal, played by Shin Kishida. He offers Shiraki a drink and tells him that his plan is for him to become the next principal of the school. Shiraki is asked to stay at his home that night. The new teacher gives his condolences. He does learn that she hasn’t been buried yet as this area has a custom of keeping the body at home. She is in the basement as they speak.

In the night, he hears a woman singing and goes searching. He goes into a room where he finds Keiko (Yasuko Agawa). There’s something not right about her and then he is attacked by someone who looks like the principal’s wife, played by Mika Katsuragi. She is a vampire. Shiraki passes out.

He wakes up in his bed and thinks it was all a dream. He goes about meeting some of the students, which includes Kumi Saijô (Mariko Mochizuki), Yukiko Mitamura (Mio Ôta) and Kyôko Hayashi (Keiko Aramaki). He also meets Dr. Shimomura (Kunie Tanaka). It is through them Shiraki learns about the history of this place, how one or two girls go missing each year and there are rumors of vampires in the area.

When a break is coming up and Kyôko is attacked. Her friends stay behind to help nurse her back to health. They become the targets of the vampire while Shiraki and Dr. Shimomura try to figure out who is behind this and the truth.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. I want to start with the fact that I liked this for its story and mythology. This is the first in this trilogy that credits Bram Stoker. All of these films are Toho is doing its take on a Hammer, gothic style horror film that were coming out at the time in Europe. What I find interesting as well is the setting. It sets up that this school is in the middle of nowhere. That gives it an isolated feeling which helps the atmosphere. The houses that are used also look creepy. They aren’t the castles you’d get normally and that works in its favor to be different.

Sticking with these ideas, this uses interesting vampire mythology. We get that you can’t take pictures of vampires and that they need blood to survive. I also found this one interesting in that it takes us back to the history of the vampire. There is great backstory that the original vampire here was a Christian who was tortured in the town. In his pain he turned his back on God and then drank blood which turned him. This also does something quite interesting in how the identity of the vampire is unknown. I found it creative to set this apart.

Now I did have a slight issue with a story element. It is said that this school has one or two women disappear each year. We see that if someone is bit that they turn into a vampire. We know that is the cause of the missing women. My issue with that though is that I feel the school might be closer to being shut down if it was that frequent. Just something that crossed my mind while watching this. This could have used a bit more fleshing out or care.

That should be enough for the story so I’ll go over to acting. I thought everyone was solid across the board. Kurosawa is good as our hero. He is an outsider who we are learning what is going on along with us. He gets introduced to the creature early on. What is good there is that he thinks it was a dream at first. That causes him to not believe initially, but as much information is discovered, he knows that it must be. Tanaka is solid at giving us the history of the school as well as the side-kick to Shiraki. He isn’t in the film all that long though. Kishida is solid in his role and I thought he had a good look. Mochizuki, Ôta and Aramaki are solid as the three friends who are the focus of the attacks. They are all cute as well. There is nudity there if you’re interested. I also thought Katsuragi was solid in her small role. The rest of the cast round out the film well.

I’ll then finish out with filmmaking. First would be the effect. They were practical, which makes sense for the era and they look good. The blood is solid. Doesn’t necessarily look real, but they didn’t go as fluorescent as other movies from the era tended to do. The vampire wounds looked good. What is interesting there is that this vampire bites their chest, which hides it easier. That was an interesting touch. There was only one scene that involved a Rorschach test that I thought didn’t look great. That was also someone hallucinating so its fine. The look of the vampires were good. I’ll say that the cinematography and framing also help. I’ll bring back up the setting of this isolated school/village.

The last thing I wanted to touch on would be the soundtrack. I thought it was solid at setting the mood as well as the atmosphere. There are quirky sounding songs, but for whatever reason they fit the scene and helped to enhance it. I also think being from Japan, that helps. Another good touch was the almost ethereal singing that Shiraki hears. It draws him out of his room. I thought that was a good touch.

In conclusion, I thought this was a good vampire film from Japan. The story, even though is limited, was good. Giving us the local legend involving the history of the vampire was great. I thought this was well-made. The cinematography, effects and soundtrack work in its favor to build that gothic mood. I’d also say that the acting was solid. This is a bit different type of vampire film. I’ll bring up again that this is from Japan, so I watched it with subtitles on. If that is an issue, I’d avoid this one. If you like Hammer/gothic horror, this is an interesting one to check out.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10