I'll just say what one voter already knew, right up front: The Vampire Doll (1970) rules.
I'd long wanted to indulge in director Michio Yamamoto'sBloodthirsty Trilogy, and thanks to the blessings of SHOCKtober I finally cracked open the simply gore-geous Blu-ray from Arrow Video (I've been busy, okay) and phew lawd, I'm in love. In love, I tells ya! From the warm fuzzy feelings the familiar Toho Studios screen will induce in anyone who grew up watchingGodzilla movies to the end credits, I was in this to win this Japanese take on the bloodier, creepier side of Hammer-style horror.
On a dark and stormy night, Kazuhiko Sagawa (Atsuo Nakamura) takes a taxi to the family estate of his fiancée Yûko (Yukiko Kobayashi), deep in the countryside. He's excited to see her, as he's been away for six months...but he's worried, because she was supposed to meet him at the train station. Sadly, Yûko's mother (Yôko Minakaze) confirms Sagawa's worst fears, telling him that Yûko died just two weeks prior in an auto accident caused by a mudslide.
But is Yûko really dead? Or is her that Sagawa sees wandering the grounds late at night, ethereal in her flowing, white gown?
A week passes and Keiko Sagawa (Kayo Matsuo) hasn't heard from her brother since he went to visit Yûko. Worried, she and her boyfriend Hiroshi (Akira Nakao) head to the estate in the countryside, and the question remains:
First of all, yes, look at how impossibly damn cool Hiroshi and Keiko are.
The Vampire Doll is a lean, mean 71 minutes as it wastes no time getting to the goods and...well, staying there. It's a fascinating 70s contemporary take on Western gothic as filtered through a Japanese lens: Yûko's mother dresses traditionally, but her estate is decidedly Western ("My husband was a diplomat," she explains, simply). She's suitably sinister, her motives largely unclear as she keeps insisting that her daughter is really dead, even though her daughter is spotted all over the house and its grounds. Keiko and Hiroshi are the perfect detective duo, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and find Kazuhiko. Yûko is creepy as hell but her story is ultimately a sad one. In fact, "creepy as hell but ultimately sad" is how I'd sum up this whole movie. (That's how you know this is Asian horror baby!)
I know I'm all over the place and not really saying much here, but hey--this is one of those films that Ijust want to yell "GO WATCH THIS!" about because it's simply a delightful experience and perfect SHOCKtober season viewing. So do yourself a favor. GO WATCH THIS!