23 October 2014

The Night of the Vampire (1970)
85 min.
Directed by Michio Yamamoto.
With Jun Hamamura, Yukiko Kobayashi, Kayo Matsuo, Yôko Minakaze, Atsuo Nakamura, Akira Nakao, Jun Usami.
This 1970 Japanese horror is the first entry in director Yamamoto's Bloodthirsty vampire trilogy.

Kazuhiko (Nakamura) pays a visit to the home of his girlfriend Yuko (Kobayashi).

Once there, he's greeted by her mother (Minakaze), who tells him that Yuko was recently killed in a car accident.

Distraught, Kazuhiko visits Yuko's grave - where he encounters the ghostly likeness of his beloved.

Meanwhile, Kazuhiko's sister Keiko (Matsuo) gets concerned when she doesn't hear from her brother as scheduled.

She and her friend Hiroshi (Nakao) drive up to Yuko's house to investigate.

Once again, Yuko's mother claims that her daughter is dead, and that Kazuhiko left the estate some time ago. However, Keiko believes otherwise.

She knows her brother is somewhere nearby...and that Yuko, dead or alive, had something to do with his disappearance. She vows to uncover the truth, at any cost.

Also known either as The Vampire Doll or as Legacy of Dracula, this is an effective little Asian moodpiece.

Director Yamamoto combines the supernatural premise with a subplot of dark family secrets, and laces the whole thing with an atmosphere of gothic dread.

The acting is worthy, and there are some admirably good moments, such as Yuko's attack on Dr. Yamaguchi.

At heart, this yearns to be a classic Japanese kaidan eiga (ghost story), but it's all done in a decidedly Western style, and feels like any early '70s Hammer vampire flick.

Followed by Lake of Dracula (1971).

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