Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Bloodthirsty Eyes – review


Director: Michio Yamamoto

Release Date: 1971

Contains spoilers

This movie, called ‘Noroi no yakata: Chi o sû me’ in Japan is also known as Lake of Dracula and, unlike the first TOHO vampire movie, The Bloodthirsty Doll, this does actually mention Dracula – or at least the subtitles do. The connection isn’t substantive, indeed it is quite tenuous, but we’ll discuss that later.

gothic house in JapanThe film begins with a young five year old girl named Akiko playing on rocks by the sea, she has her dog, Leo, with her and the dog runs off. She chases after the dog and runs towards a ramshackle house. Now just looking at the outside of the house we can see the European influences on the film, not least the influence of Hammer. Outside the house an old man tries to grab her but she dodges past him and runs into the house following the dog.

seeing the vampire for the first timeThe inside of the house is a pure European Gothic treat, cobwebs festoon the house, stained glass overlooks the rickety staircase, there is even a suit of armour. A woman sits at a piano. As Akiko touches her we see she is a corpse with her throat ripped. Akiko reels around and sees a vampire, his eyes golden.

Saeki and AkikoPresent day and Akiko (Midori Fujita) is a teacher who now lives by a lake. She has a dog named Leo – but it is a different dog before keen eyed viewers spot the difference! She walks up to a boathouse to see Kyusaka about having a broken door latch fixed at her house. Leo suddenly runs off, triggering memories of the events from the beginning of the film. A truck comes down the road, chased by Leo. The driver drops a crate off with Kyusaka, when he gets it in the boathouse he discovers it contains an ornate coffin.

the paintingBack at home, which Akiko shares with her sister Natsuko (Sanae Emi), the sister is commenting on a painting that Akiko has just completed. It depicts a landscape but is dominated by a golden eye. During their conversation it becomes apparent that the events from her childhood are partially forgotten and thought to be a dream. Meanwhile Kyusaka is on the phone to the haulage company asking why he has received a coffin. He says the name (on the paperwork) was Dracula, the phone is put down on him. He opens the coffin and it is empty except for a splash of blood, a hand falls on his shoulder.

Shin Kishida as the vampireLet us look at ‘Dracula’ for a moment. I do not believe it was meant to be the actual character and it does seem that the name was tagged on. Later Saeki (Osahide Takahashi), Akiko’s boyfriend, states that it is obvious they are dealing with Dracula, and it almost sounds like it is a genus name, like vampire, rather than an individual’s name. We do discover more about the origins of the vampire (Shin Kishida), that his grandfather was a foreigner and a descendent of a vampire and the curse has come out in him, jumping generations – it doesn’t make him Dracula, however.

KyusakuAnyway, Akiko starts to see her friend Kyusaku change – he kills Leo and kidnaps her and eventually tries to kill Saeki. Her sister changes also, a victim of the vampire. Add to that a woman drained of blood being taken to the hospital in which Saeki works and they quickly realise what they are dealing with and end up returning to the place where it all began eighteen years before.

puncture marksVampire lore is sparse but traditional European. Vampires come out at night, have no reflection and the main one has burning golden eyes. They can be killed by fire or by the stake. Victims of the vampire become slaves to his will and, if they die, become vampires themselves. Kill the main vampire and the others die.

It did seem a little odd that Saeki becomes convinced and then, at the last moment decides that the vampire is a madman who is self-deluded and thinks himself undead, going so far as to hypnotise his victims into doing his bidding. There is an excellent vampiric death scene, not in the special effects per se but in the fact that the vampire continues snarling and clutching after life.

vampire awakensNot a bad film, a fairly standard vampire film that misses perhaps some of the weird nuances that might have been added. Like the previous film some of the darker shot scenes are much too dark. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

1 comment:

OllieMugwump said...

Rather slow, but a treat nonetheless.

The way I interperate it, coming back to the 'Western taint' again, the vampire and his family were 'naturalized' descendants of Dracula. Which is interesting, considering there's a theory going round of naturalized descendants of Christ and Magdalene living in Japan!