The Tomb of Dracula (Yami no Teiō: Kyūketsuki Dorakyura) (1985)


Also known as “Dracula Sovereign of the Damned,” and “The Emperor of Darkness: The Vampire Dracula,” Toei’s “Tomb of Dracula” is loosely adapted from the “The Tomb of Dracula” Marvel Book comic series published from 1972 to 1979. I like to think the Marvel comics are so much better than what Toei has offered fans, as they squeeze in all of those stories in to such a hastily made ninety minute movie. And you can tell there’s so much here added in a rush as the movie is so badly made.

Count Dracula, lord of vampires and the sovereign of the damned, steals away a bride intended for Lucifer. Not only does this anger his dark creator but also a satanic cult and his fellow vampires. He finds that the sins of his past will not allow him to live a normal, mortal life. Events become complicated when he comes under attack from all sides, including his vampire hunting great-grandson and the children of others he murdered long ago.

The animation is fine enough, but the potential for scares or terror is hindered by the terrible script and awful voice acting. Lest I forget the whole of the narrative which not only doesn’t make a lot of sense, but also is so ridiculous it’s inadvertently laugh out loud funny. It’s so hard to pick out which scenes were my favorites. There’s the head vampire hunter Hans Harker who has a dog with a collar donning a crucifix. The head vampire hunter Hans Harker tries to vet his side kick Frank Drake to test his martial arts skills by attacking him with a sword—from his wheelchair.

When Rachel Van Helsing tires of being hit on by Frank Drake, she shoots arrows at his feet rather than—you know—simply telling him to leave her alone. One of my favorite scenes though involves the trio of vampire killers trying to find a pattern to Dracula’s kills. Not coincidentally, Dracula’s string of murders all connect in to a giant bat formation. This leads Hans to presume that they’re “finally on to something.” Gee, do you think? The giant bat symbol didn’t give anything away? And why did Dracula necessarily have to murder his victims in a bat formation? In either case, the narrative moves like molasses, and the characters do nothing but over explain and over talk (especially the gabby narrator) for what is a pretty convoluted story all things considered.

I wish the slick animation could have been complimented by a great story line, but alas, the writers don’t accomplish much at all. It’s a fairly ridiculous and terrible movie, even if it’s not at all the worst in the annals of Dracula movies.