Plot: Kazuhiko (Atsuo Nakamura) travels to a remote estate to visit his girlfriend Yuko (Yukiko Kobayashi), but once he arrives, he is given tragic news. Yuko’s mother informs Kazuhiko that she was killed in a car accident a little while back, which leaves him quite devastated. While he is at the estate, he begins to think he sees Yuko and she seems to summon him to the nearby graveyard. Desperate to see his lost love, Kazuhiko follows her and discovers that Yuko’s spirit is not at peace, as she attacks him and he never returns home. When he doesn’t come back, his sister Keiko (Kayo Matsuo) ventures to the estate with her boyfriend in tow, to find out what happened. But can she survive an encounter with Yuko’s ghost and unlock the secret of her spirit, or will she join her brother in his supernatural fate?
Entertainment Value: An eerie, atmospheric chiller that feels like it was influenced by Hammer’s genre films, The Vampire Doll is a stylish and effective picture. The visuals of Yuko’s supernatural presence are the most memorable element here, with her glowing eyes and diabolical smile, but the mood and unsettling atmosphere are what make the movie work so well. The movie begins like an old school horror flick, with an imposing mansion, stormy weather, and dark visuals, then builds tension at a deliberate, but consistent clip until the final act, at which points things take a more kinetic approach and close on a high note. I know some dislike all the obvious western influences at work in The Vampire Doll, but I think it helps the movie stand out from its peers and the end result is terrific, which is what counts. I love the visuals, bathed in shadows and the music really adds to the experience as well, with an organ score that suits the material to perfection. I think The Vampire Doll is a fun, well crafted horror movie and the visuals alone make this one an easy recommendation.
No nakedness. The movie puts much less emphasis on the erotic side of vampirism, so the lack of naked flesh is never an issue. There is some bloodshed however, including one of the most epic throat slashes in the history of cinema. I mean, this wound goes beyond even Lone Wolf & Cub style crimson geysers, it is a beautiful moment that looks fantastic. Aside from that wild and wonderful moment however, the violence is rather mild, but man, that scene is a total home run. The dialogue here is capable, but isn’t all that wild or overly memorable. So while the score is low, that isn’t an indictment of the script, just a note on the lack of outlandish lines. As for craziness, we have Yuko’s creepiness, the doll in the grave, the insane throat slash, and unsettling atmosphere, so some threads of unease are present here, even if the movie isn’t an over the top, madcap experience.
Overall Insanity: 3/10