Kazuhiko Sagawa (Atsuo Nakamura) has been overseas for six months. He heads out to the country to visit his girlfriend Yuko Nonomura (Yukiko Kobayashi). By the time he gets there it is late at night and there is a storm raging. The door is answered by the family servant, Genzo (Kaku Takashina). Genzo is a deaf mute and hates people. Shidu Nonomura (Yoko Minazake), Yuko’s mother tells Kazuhiko that her daughter died in a car accident two weeks before. Since it is late and still raining she allows Kazuhiko to spend the night.
That night Kazuhiko hears a woman crying. He follows the sound to Yuko’s bedroom. After entering the room he opens the closet door and sees Yuko. She is pale white and grinning. Kazuhiko is knocked unconscious. When he regains his senses he is told he had a nightmare. He returns to his room. He looks out the window and sees Yuko outside on the grounds. He follows her to her gravesite.
Several days later Kazuhiko’s sister, Keiko Sagawa (Kayo Matsuo), and her boyfriend, Hiroshi Takagi (Akira Nakao) show up at Mrs. Nonomura’s home looking for her brother. She tells them that Kazuhiko left the day after he arrived. Keiko doesn’t believe her. Hiroshi pretends the car won’t start so they have an excuse to stay the night.
That night they hear strange sounds of a woman crying. Keiko sees Yuko in her room. Hiroshi understands that Mrs. Nonomura and Genzo are weird but he also thinks that Keiko is a little high strung. The next day they leave heading back towards Tokyo. Keiko insists that she saw Yuko and she also believes that her brother is still in the house. She finally convinces Hiroshi to check further on the strange things going on at the house. At the hall of records the clerk tells them a bizarre story.
He says the family seems to have been cursed by the “God of Death”. Twenty years ago a killer broke into the house and killed everyone there except Mrs. Nonomura. At the time Genzo was away so he was saved. Mrs. Nonomura was so grief stricken that she tried to commit suicide. She now bears a scar on her throat from the attempt. Then it’s as if she forgot all about the incident. Yuko was born as a result of what happened that night.
Keiko wants to return to the house to find out what happened to her brother but Hiroshi wants to wait in town a day. Keiko takes off in the car by herself to the Nonomura house. The house with secrets.
“The Vampire Doll” was released in 1970 and was directed by Michio Yamamoto. It is a Japanese horror movie and is the first vampire film in what is referred to as “The Bloodthirsty Trilogy”. Produced by Fumio Tanaka the trilogy consists of three separate stories, “The Vampire Doll” 1970, “Lake of Dracula” 1971 and “Evil of Dracula” 1974. The film had a limited release in the U.S. and was not released on video until 2018.
The vampire in the story is not exactly a vampire in the traditional sense. It is what is known as a Kaijin. It means a mysterious person. They are basically villains. The word can refer to any kind of monster. Unlike Kaiju, Kaijin are human sized and basically humanoid in appearance but have monstrous traits or abilities. Examples would be ghosts, zombies, the invisible man, vampires or the Frankenstein monster. Although the character Frankenstein from “Frankenstein Conquers the World” 1965 would not since he grew to be Kaiju size instead of staying human size. Some Kaijin film examples would be “The H-man” 1958, “The Human Vapor” 1960 or even the mushroom people in “Matango” 1963. I’m of the opinion that the vampire in the story could be a zombie that just looks like a vampire.
This was a very impressive horror story. This is Japanese gothic with a good plot and some wonderful spooky visuals. The characters are interesting, the acting is great and the makeup effects were awesome. The film holds its own against anything Universal could do. There may be a couple plot holes but they are far outweighed by a fun viewing experience and an interesting ending.