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Evil of Dracula
(1974)
 

Director: Michio Yamamoto       
Cast: Toshio Kurosawa, Kunie Tanaka


An improvement over Lake of Dracula, this follow-up compensates another pretty predictable plot with a brisk pace, some style, and more effort to create horror and tension.

Professor Shuaki arrives by train to a remote Japanese village for his job as a teacher in the village's girls' school.. He's picked up by Mr. Yoshi, the assistant of the principal, in a Mercedes The yakuza only drive American cars in Japan, so I have to wonder if German cars have significance. Maybe, since they only other (working) car seen in the movie is German as well.

But I digress. Shuaki is driven to the school, learning along the way that the principal's wife was killed in an auto accident several days earlier. Meeting the principal, and invited to stay the night at the school, he learns that her body is being stored in the basement, it being "a local tradition" to keep your dead loved ones in the basement for a week.

Strange things start to happen, starting that very night. Shuaki hears singing in the night, goes exploring in the next room and finds a negligee-wearing female vampire (well, it is a girls' school). The next thing he knows is he's in bed, and he decides that it was a dream.

But the strangeness continues. Shuaki hears rumors of evil things from Shimamura, the doctor. One dormitory gets hit by a vampire looking like the principal. Yoshi comes into suspicion as well. As the group of girls in the dormitory start getting cut down (and there are only three of them), Shuaki, unable to get help from the police, determines that only he can stop things.

One of the biggest flaws in the previous Lake of Dracula returns here, that being the endless scenes of having the characters (and the audience) jump when a hand or a shrieking bird suddenly enters the frame. However, there are a number of scenes in the movie that create genuine tension. The "dream" sequence (where one of the girls borrows Blacula's roller skates) has some suspense and doesn't make clear what is going to happen. The woods outside the school are used at night to good effect in several scenes. Best of all, the print that I saw didn't seem to be cut, letting in some bloody effects. Unfortunately, like many Japanese genre films of the 70s, pan-and-scanning makes a number of the scenes hard to make out, with a lot of the action cut off at the sides.

And again, it's the fault of those Caucasians for the vampire attacks in this peaceful community. However, the movie lets them off more lightly this time. Midway through the movie, we learn that the Caucasian was a priest shipwrecked off Japan several hundred years earlier, and tortured by Japanese officials until he spat on a cross and denied knowing his God.. Left to wander in the desert (?), he became a vampire and terrorized the countryside until he was killed. Or was he? is wondered by Shuaki and the audience. The audience is still wondering at the movie's conclusion, though there is some mumbo about soul transfer. However, we are treated to a long, crowd-pleasing wrestling/fist-fight between the protagonist and antagonist during a raging thunderstorm with an out-of-tune guitar plucking random notes on the soundtrack, so don't say you don't get your money's worth. And since you can guess the end, I don't think it will hurt to mention that the vampire then has a scene that echoes Pee-Wee Herman's last scene in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So there are a number of interesting scenes (amusing and otherwise) that makes this very acceptable entertainment for anyone wanting a taste of Japanese horror.

Dracula doesn't appear in this movie, either.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: Lake Of Dracula, The Black Room, The Dark

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