Vampire Hunter D

Director:        Toyoo Ashida

Language Format: English Language
Running time:    80 mins
Label:           Manga Video
Certificate:     15
Catalogue no:    MANV 1011
Price:           £12.99
Release date:    3rd May 1993


The movie opens with the heroine, Doris Lang, a pretty, tough and feisty young woman, walking through the savannah carrying a big gun. She shoots a creature resembling a dinosaur; however it gets up again even after she has decapitated it, and maims her horse. She kills it with a force whip. The disturbance attracts a werewolf, which rips a cross from around Doris's neck. The werewolf flees when Count Magnus Lee, the vampire, comes on the scene. He demands payment for Doris' tresspass into his lands and then bites her on the neck.

Next on the scene comes a thin figure in a dark cloak and broad-brimmed hat, and a mask that hides most of his face, and riding a cyborg horse. This is D, the vampire hunter. Doris first taunts him and then asks for his help, showing him the puncture wounds on her neck. She offers him sexual favours in payment (one of the more adult parts of the script!). They join Doris' small brother at her house, and next day the three go into town. Doris is approached by Grekko, the mayor's foppish son, who asks if the Count has attacked her and then, when she resists his advances, tells everybody that she has been bitten.

The townsfolk then demand that Doris be confined, but the local dosctor objects. D reminds the townsfolk that killing the vampire will lift his curse. They return to the farm to await the attack of the Count's creatures.

On paper this seems quite a strong script, with a half-vampire hero, monsters, an evil and mysterious Count, lots of action and plot twists and a couple of strong female characters. The dubbed version deviates only trivially from the original script.

Unfortunately when one sees and hears the movie, one's principal impression is that it looks and sounds decidedly juvenile, and more risible than frightening.

The fact that Toyoo Ashida also directed FIST OF THE NORTH STAR should have been a bad omen for anyone expecting anything sophisticated. Asides from a few 'adult' scenes and the level of gore, it does little to overturn Western perceptions of 'cartoons'. The character designs are undistinguished and the action has long pauses while the characters threaten one another. The movie has little of the conviction and subtlety we have come to expect of the better anime and the tone of the dubbed dialogue, from Streamline Pictures, completes the impression of something intended for juveniles. There are other anime horror videos far better than this. [Geoff Cowie]