Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Lost Anime Dracula


-- that is, lost for a reason.

Tonight I was working on Alex Van Helsing #1 and letting the classic '31 Dracula play on DVD (with the excellent Philip Glass score, but more on that another time.) But after a writing session I had to unwind, and sometimes that requires complete trash.

So, thanks to a reminder from Tony Salvaggio (not just the co-creator of Psy-comm but also a brilliant anime columnist for Comicbookresources.com), I decided to pop in the 1980 anime DRACULA: SOVEREIGN OF THE DAMNED, also known as THE TOMB OF DRACULA: LORD OF THE VAMPIRES.

Now, I know some of you are shouting, wha? An anime based on Tomb of Dracula, Marv Wolfman's legendary take on Dracula, that introduced the world to a regal Dracula and a bunch of familiar new characters like Blade and Lilith, Daughter of Dracula?

Yes. And some of you are also shouting, I thought that thing was buried forever with the Star Wars Holiday Special.

That second group is more familiar with this work. Hey, I didn't come by my copy easily; I had to buy it from a bootlegger near a loading dock in Dallas, (and by near, I mean, you know, in the dealer room at Wizard World at the Arlington Convention Center, which has a loading dock.)

This is an astonishingly over-wrought movie that tries to adapt the comic into a feature-length video. It begins with a cosmic overtone, in which a breathless narrator goes on about how life is made up of opposites while showing us cosmic vistas and, I think, the surface of the sun.
"A chaotic clash of opposing forces ... the very elements of nature itself are in constant upheaval! An eternal compbat of opposites, light against darkness, heat against cold! Love and malevolence!"

Moving on to malevolence, the narrator brings us to Castle Dracula, and now it gets arty, as we listen to harpsichord music and pan slowly across the gargoyles. But we don't see the count, apparently we're here for a break after that exciting intro about cosmic opposites. The narrator tells us that, whoops, Dracula isn't here anymore, he's headed West, and into the plot.

The plot involves Dracula horning in on the action of a group of Satanists. ("They met in a church! But their form of worship was an unholy desecration!" says the narrator, who is starting to sound more unhinged than Criswell.) Drac runs off with the woman who is intended to be his sacrifice, and then the movie warps through more plot you would expect from one extraordinarily dull anime: Dracula's love with the woman, an anime version of Janus, Son of Satan, an anime version of Marvel's various vampire-busters. Dracula is a hero. A villain. A lover. A rebel. On and on the movie drones.

I mean, seriously-- Zoltan, Hound of Dracula is silly, but it's one story told in a reasonable amount of time. This movie is nine stories told in a strangely-dubbed jumble. I'd give you more details but-- oh, for Pete's sake. Trust me.

So there: the 1980 anime Dracula. I have seen it so that you don't have to. Next time you see this one at the loading dock, you can skip it in favor of that 1978 Doctor Strange.



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