Lake of Dracula

Toho may be known for their kaiju blockbusters, but they dabbled in other areas of interest.  In the early 70's, they took a stab at echoing the Gothic chromaticity of Hammer films.  1971's Lake of Dracula is part of a loose trilogy of vampire romps that percolates through European cues.  It was an open-and-shut case of a major studio mining a proven formula.  Plagiarism will never aggregate animadversion (???).  Why come up with an original idea when you can simply crib someone else's original idea?  I realize that I'm starting this review on a fussy, captious note, but Lake of Dracula is a pleasant watch.  All the same, I want to get my bitching out of the way first.  Negativity comes naturally for horror curmudgeons such as myself.  It's my website; I can sulk if I want to!

My main issue has nothing to do with the visual aspects of this Japanese neck-chomper.  If looks could kill, Lake of Dracula would be a sniper rifle.  It's just that...well, it's forgettable.  I watched it this afternoon, and I'm sitting here trying to piece the script together.  I can't seem to untangle the chain of events that led to the third act.  I was wide awake, too.  The only images obtruding in my memory involve bland characters reacting to the most jejune, mildewed vampire cliches imaginable.  You'd think that Lake of Dracula would taste uniquely Asian.  In truth, it's an Asian person's interpretation of a Hammer flick (and by "interpretation," I mean "stock rehash").

Did writers Ei Ogawa and Masaru Takesue even bother viewing the productions that they were attempting to emulate?  Lake of Dracula has a dearth of witty dialogue, character empathy and menacing stalk sequences.  See, Horror of Dracula and Taste the Blood of Dracula came equipped with that kind of stuff.  That's why they have replay value.  This bloodletting lightweight lifts the surface atmosphere from those classics, but neglects to make room for depth.  I don't regret cramming it into my VCR, though.  There are enough positives here to justify three whole Z'Dars.

Prevailingly, the special effects are rock solid.  Lake of Dracula does skimp on gore, but we get an icky impalement to savor.  The main mosquito (I don't believe that he's Dracula in a literal sense) has a wicked, blanched countenance, as do his transfixed minions.  I spotted bats, coffins, fog banks, a creepy castle...basically, the prototypical staples that stiffen my member.  Get your mind out of the gutter; I'm talking about my cock.  Geez.  I can't say that I was ever bored.  While Lake of Dracula didn't leave a lasting impression on me, it was paced reasonably well.  Still, I'm glad that Toho kept kaiju at the top of their priority list.  RANDOM FACTOID: This movie was released on home video by Paramount.  I thought that was weird.

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