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Legacy Of Dracula:
The Bloodthirsty Doll
cast: Kayo Matsuo, Akira Nakao, Yukiko Kobayashi, Atsuo Makamura, and Jun Usami

director: Michio Yamamoto

71 minutes (15) 1970
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Eastern Cult Cinema DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James Starkey
It appears on the surface that when it comes to genuinely unsettling films, the Japanese are in a league of their own. Even as early as 1970 and Yamamoto's Legacy Of Dracula (aka: The Vampire Doll), our oriental friends appeared to have more than one finger on the pulse of dramatic terror. This particular film is timeless in that it represents a near-extinct breed of horror movie - one that hides its true form under a veil of seeming obscurity. Be in no doubt that Legacy Of Dracula is a truly twisted yarn.
   Having not seen his girlfriend Yuko in months, Kazuhiko travels to her remote family mansion during the middle of a storm. Upon arrival however, he is greeted by terrible news of Yuko's death in a road accident. Her mother's apparent indifference to her daughter's fate baffles Kazuhiko. Kazuhiko is subsequently haunted by visions of his late girlfriend and becomes increasingly suspicious of the reports of her death.
   Kazuhiko's sister Keiko soon becomes worried about her brother who has not called her for days since travelling to meet Yuko. She travels with her boyfriend to the mansion where Yuko's mother informs them of the tragic events and that Keiko's brother had left some days before. Again, suspicion centres on Yuko's mother who appears to be hiding the truth from the pair. As had happened with her brother, Keiko is soon plagued by visions of the supposedly dead Yuko. Soon she decides to uncover the mystery once and for all.
   It appears that the tradition of effective Japanese horror movies can be traced right back to the late 1960s. Well before the Italian horror explosion, oriental directors were producing relatively obscure gems with little or no real previous subject matter to guide them. Certainly nothing before 1970 on the home front would compare to the eerie atmosphere that Yamamoto manages to conjure up here. Although looking rather dated, the movie did not seem like it was produced 33 years ago. Our Japanese director is not without fault however when setting the plot. The obligatory storm that greets the intro sequence does rather set the teeth on edge in the cynical 21st century. Some of the dialogue will also raise a smile. However, bubbling under the surface is a cold and isolated aura that is amazingly effective for such an obscure movie. The performance of Yuko's mother is one of definite merit. Without saying too much, she manages to convince the audience that she is hiding something although few will know exactly what until the end of the film.
   Those who would not naturally be drawn to a vampire movie should definitely consider Legacy Of Dracula. This would be especially relevant for those who were mesmerised by the undoubtedly excellent Ring series of films. Similar to those chillers, Legacy combines the seemingly natural and innocent complexion of a Japanese girl and twists it into a thoroughly disconcerting abomination. The film's title has all the hallmarks of an aka or an alteration of the original Japanese translation. This suspicion is based upon the fact that the character of Dracula has no mention or presence in the movie whatsoever apart from the slight similarity of being a vampire movie. This aside however, Yamamoto's Legacy Of Dracula comes recommended. Don't expect modern thrills and spills, but do expect a creepy backdrop to a story well told.
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