Evil of Dracula (1974)


You know, the movies are fun on their own, but these posters are awesome.

Professor Shiraki arrives in an isolated town to take a job as the psychology teacher at a local school for girls. Not five minutes after arriving the current principal informs him that he is to become the new principal. The professor is perplexed by this bit of information, but takes the decision in stride. Besides that one odd encounter and a couple of pequliar colleagues and local customs, most everything else about the school seems mundane enough. Or at least it does until some of the young girls at the school begin to fall victim to a mysterious illness that appears to be accompanied by puncture marks to the breast. He’s concerned, and then shocked, to find out that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and that the administrators don’t seem that concerned about it. So Shiraki takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of this mystery and, with the help of the school’s physician and a couple students, sets out to discover what’s really going on at this quaint little school.

Are you sure you’re the hero? ‘Cause this doesn’t bode well.

The final movie in The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, Evil of Dracula takes several elements from the first two bloody outings of the ‘trilogy’, throws in some new ideas, and ends up with what very well may be the strongest selection of the three films. It certainly isn’t the most unique vampire film made (it isn’t even the most unique one out of the three Trilogy films), but it still has enough good points to make it a fun outing.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fake sky they put in here?

Like Lake of Dracula, Evil of Dracula is heavily inspired by more western influences, most notably those from the Hammer studios. Unlike Lake, however, Evil displays its influences much more blatantly. Actors and one flashback aside, everything here, from the architecture to the decor to the clothing, is distinctly European in tone (they even managed to cast one white guy for the one white guy role. Bully for them.) And that’s not all. The female victims walk around in flowing, white and pastel blue colored negligees, blood drips seductively from wounds and there’s a general feel of sensuality (and maybe a little perviness) and a bit of body horror present here that was distinctly absent from the other two films.

Okay, maybe a lot of perviness…

What is still present is the top-notch cinematography and visuals. The movie isn’t as brightly colored as the other films, focusing instead on using more muted earth tones, dark and sharp shadows and natural lighting. It also has a strong focus on asymmetrical, over-the-shoulder depth of field framing, which basically means that they place objects in the immediate foreground so that the middle and background are more emphasized. This method is actually used in all three Trilogy films, but in Evil its use is much more noticable and much more frequent.

Much, much more frequent.
MUCH

All of the characters range from perfectly serviceable, to good, to downright amusing. Most of the young girls aren’t really on screen long enough to form much of an opinion, but the ones who are fulfil their roles as well as can be expected. The lead comes across as far too easily swayed into the whole ‘it must be a vampire’ shtick, especially considering he’s supposed to be a psychology teacher, but I’ll blame most of that on the script and not the actor. Shin Kishida returns to reprise his titular role from Lake of Dracula and he seems to have fully settled into the part, complete with charm, menace and an overabundance of obnoxious vampiric hissing.

Would you just die already, please?!

The standout, though, is probably Shimomura, the school’s doctor. He’s basically the movie’s version of Van Helsing, combined with that of the town gossip. So he’s charming, dedicated and….sadly kind of an idiot. He knows about the girls that go missing every year, but doesn’t seem to make the connection that those same girls are also the ones that get ‘sick’ before they up and disappear. He’s also the one who gleefully explains the local vampire legend to Shiraki, pegs the principal as the culprit… and then goes running into the woods after the dude in the dead of night. As lovable as the guy was, I spent a lot of time wanting to smack him upside his head as I watched the film.

Yeah, this is the coffin of the white guy that turned into a vampire because the locals tortured him. Neat, huh?
I can’t help feeling like this could have been avoided somehow…

So is Evil of Dracula any good? If you like the other vampire themed Hammer films, then I’d say yes. This film emulates that particular style even more than the previous outing, and combines several elements from the first two films to make all three feel more like a cohesive whole. It also shows more of its eastern influences with the vampires by incorporating more white makeup and exaggerated actions that will be recognizable to those familiar with Kabuki theatre. If you like Hammer films and crave some of that old-school vampire action, then this is something to check out.

Evil of Dracula (and the rest of The Bloodthirsty Trilogy) is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

It is also available on Bluray, via The Bloodthirsty Trilogy.

Michi

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