Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dracula: sovereign of the damned – review


Directed by: see below

Release date: 1980

Contains spoilers

This was a Japanese made for TV animation based on Marvel comics “Tomb of Dracula” series. draculaThe director of the piece is a little difficult to gather. According to the end credits it is Robert Barron. According to imdb there were two directors Akinori Nagaoka and Minoru Okazaki. Finally, according to vampyres online it was Minoru Okazaki as Robert Barron. Okazaki was definitely involved therefore, taking a westernised pseudonym by the looks of things, but I am not sure how Nagaoka fits in.

Dracula has transplanted himself to Boston and we discover three distinct groups at work. There is Dracula himself, there is the Black Mass – a group of Satanists – and there is a group of vampire hunters.

Satanist high priestAs the feature begins the Black Mass are in a church, defiling it so they can perform their ceremonies. They intend to summon Satan and offer him one of their number, Delores, as his mortal bride. During the ritual a bat flies in and transforms into Dracula – who takes Deores away, snatching her from Satan. The Black Mass high Priest assumes that the visitation was from Satan.

deloresDracula is going to turn Delores but cannot bite her as he feels love. He goes into the night and slakes his thirst on a couple of random women. It is interesting to note just how quickly his victims turn blue/grey in colour.

the vampire huntersWe see the primary vampire hunters, the wheelchair bound Hans Harker and Rachel Van Helsing recruit Frank Drake, a mortal descendent of Dracula’s line and martial arts expert. They are going to use the evil-sniffing dog Elijah to find Dracula.

SatanMeanwhile the high priest of the Black Mass is confused as to why Satan is ignoring them. Satan appears before him and reprimands him for letting Dracula steal his bride (later we find out that Dracula did this as revenge for being converted into a vampire by Satan himself). The high priest swears revenge but Satan tells him to wait one year.

in bat formOne year on and the hunters have not found Dracula yet, though they have narrowed the search to an area of map shaped like a bat! Meanwhile Dracula has married Delores and they have a son, Janus. Delores has recognised that their love for each other and their son has allowed them to access a kernel of goodness within each other. Satan is now able to get his revenge and the son is killed.

vampires rise from the graveHere on in we get the presence of heaven resurrecting Janus and converting him into a man so that he can kill his father. We also get a story line of Satan stripping Dracula of his vampire status and Dracula searching for a way to be turned again. Other vampires are not so keen and one has to question why the mortal Dracula still has his hand steam when he holds a cross.

Janus as an adultThe animation is very dated now, but does the job well. The story is convoluted and a mixed bag, sometimes interesting and at others annoying. The vampire hunters seem fairly damn useless and the hopes that Blade would appear (he was introduced in Tomb of Dracula) is a vain one. The thought of Dracula, still a vampire, being domesticated was a little off-putting. Janus (the elder) looked like he walked straight out of a costume super-hero animation and was fairly pointless as a hunter – though he was more a nexus for storyline than anything.

biteAll that said, the biggest sin was the voice acting. The English dub is awful, overly melodramatic and filled with all the worst excesses of dubbing for Japanese animation. This is still entertaining, however, and quite a rarity – you’ll really have to search to find this one. 6 out of 10 is given as it is entertaining despite the off-putting dubbing.

The imdb page is here.

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