Story: After treasure seekers disturb his resting place, the vampiric Daimon awakens and wastes no time getting back to his evil ways, possessing a samurai Lord Hyogo Isobe (Takashi Kanda). This allows Daimon more freedom to travel around and cause chaos, such as wrecking religious shrines, attacking animals, and even assaults a gentle river monster, Kappa. After being injured by the rampaging Daimon, the Kappa knows the possessive vampire has to be stopped, so he seeks to gather a force of fellow monsters to end Daimon’s threat. But the little turtle monster has little luck, at least until some of Daimon’s victims take shelter in a monster shrine. But can even the powers of the yokai stop an ancient vampire like Daimon, or is too late to end his reign of terror?
Entertainment Value: The first Yokai Monsters installment, 100 Monsters, was a fun ride, but I wanted more monsters and less human focused elements. Spook Warfare was released in the same year as the first movie, so they fixed the monster shortage in no time, as this sequel is populated with all kinds of monsters. I don’t just mean the sheer volume of magical monsters on showcase either, but the narrative is driven by the monsters, so it is much more interesting, at least to me. I wanted a sense of wonder and mysticism, both of which are present in Spook Warfare in droves. The movie runs at a brisk pace and has a short runtime of 80 minutes, so there is little filler and a lot of monsters, as well as some epic battle scenes to bask in. The story is thin, but has the framework needed to let the massive monster militia assemble and there are some nice storytelling beats, so while the visuals and monsters are the draw, the story is solid as well.
To no one’s surprise, the monsters steal the show in Spook Warfare and as I said, they’re the primary focus this time around. In the last few minutes of 100 Monsters, we saw a larger assortment of yokai and to me, that was the highlight of the picture. In this sequel, there are monsters in just about every scene and when the climax begins to build, the volume and scope of monsters unleashed is remarkable, it is just a monster showcase, to be sure. Some of the yokai return from 100 Monsters, including the wonderful little umbrella monster and the long neck woman, while there are also a wealth of fresh creatures to check out here. The finale is simply epic, with a full militia of yokai of all types, I could pause and just marvel at the different designs and creations. The movie builds to the march of the monsters and it has weight, as well as epic vibes, as this menagerie of yokai is collected, then turned loose. I loved Spook Warfare and it was immense fun to revisit, so it earns a high recommendation.