Folklore and legend play a huge role in the evolution of Japanese horror films. Unlike the genre’s development in the Western world, Japanese filmmakers have been largely concerned with psychological and supernatural terror. Ghost stories drove literature, theatre and film. Whilst this century has seen the likes of Ringu, Dark Water and The Grudge make a global splash and suffer inferior American remakes, it wasn’t until recently that the influence started going the other way. The Bloodthirsty Trilogy is a strange anomaly in that regard.
Kazuhiko (Atsuo Nakamura) travels to his girlfriend Yuko’s (Yukiko Kobayashi) remote family home only to discover that she’s dead. When he goes missing, his sister (Kayo Matsuo) and her fiancé (Yukiko Kobayashi) arrive and uncover a gruesome family history. Directed by Michio Yamamoto, Vampire Doll is an impressive mix of vampire mythology with Japanese folklore.
Lake of Dracula
When her dog runs off, a young girl stumbles upon a strange house where she discovers a dead woman and a vampire (Mori Kishida). Aiko (Midori Fujita) is still traumatised by the event eighteen years later, although she’s persuaded herself that it was just a dream. She now lives with her sister Natsuko (Sanae Emi) and is getting on with her life. However, when her boyfriend (Osahide Takahashi), a doctor, treats a patient with strange puncture marks, the past comes back to haunt her. Lake of Dracula has plenty of bite.
Evil of Dracula
Professor Shiraki (Toshio Kurosawa) arrives to take up a position at an all-girls school, only to discover that the Principal’s (Shin Kishida) wife has recently died. However, along with help from a doctor (Kunie Tanaka), he discovers a deep dark secret which puts all their lives at risk. Evil of Dracula has a familiar theme yet puts a fresh spin on it.
The Bloodthirsty Trilogy is a bit of a curio. Toho Studios decided to capitalise on the Gothic horror craze which was sweeping the UK and America in the 1960s, which was largely down to Hammer. Yamamoto directed all three films and there are obvious similarities with the works of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. However, they also have the feel of Italian crime dramas of the same period. The Bloodthirsty Trilogy is a fascinating chapter in Japanese genre cinema.
Special Edition Contents:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
- Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
- Original Japanese soundtracks with optional, newly translated English subtitles
- Kim Newman on The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, a new video appraisal by the critic and writer
- Stills gallery
- Original trailers
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp
The Bloodthirsty Trilogy is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 14 May.