Saturday, October 27, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Dracula: Sovereign Of The Damned

This one is really obscure, but worth looking up if you're an old school otaku, or are sick of all the bishonen vampire anime. Long before Iron Man or Wolverine were tapped to be anime, Toei did this made-for-TV movie premiered in Japan in 1980 based on the Marvel Comics series, Tomb Of Dracula, from the 70s. This had Count Dracula being a regular character in the Marvel Universe who would frequently interact with the other Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man or the X-Men, and it was also the comic where the vampire hunter Blade first showed up. However, this movie has Dracula fighting not the Punisher or Ghost Rider, but Scooby-Doo, Satan, and Super-Jesus!

The story takes place in modern day with Dracula rebelling against Satan because he's the one who rose him from the the dead and made him a vampire. Drac makes off with a sacrifice meant to be Satan's bride, but he elopes with her instead, and a year later they have a seemingly normal baby named Janus. Elsewhere, a trio of fearless vampire slayers are out to get Dracula: Prof. Harker who is the grandson of his old flame, Rachel Van Helsing, and Drac's descendant Frank Drake that was invited along just because he knows kung-fu(whoa!). They're aided by a vampire-sniffing hound that snoops around all over Boston for about a year with no results. Satan meanwhile gets some cult leader to help him revenge against Dracula, although they end up accidently killing Janus instead. Then "God" resurrects Janus as a full grown man in some kind of Fantastic Four-looking outfit, and he then sets out to kill Dracula too. So Dracula and Janus have a little tussle complete with optic-blasts and Pikachu attacks, but Dracula has his powers taken from him by Satan. Now that he's human, neither the Scooby Gang or Ultra-Christ bother trying to off him because they'll only do it if he's a vampire. You don't wanna go to jail for killing a human, but vampires are okay! Drac hoofs it to New York to get his bloodsucker girlfriend Lila(who might actually be his daughter from the comics)to re-vamp him, but she totally snubs him. So then Dracula somehow makes it all the way back to Transylvania despite not having any money for an airline ticket, and fights off a zombie horde created by his old followers. Drac heads for his old castle for which the air inside somehow magically transforms him back into a vampire again. Harker is waiting for him, and he impales him with a silver blade(which would work if he was a werewolf), and riggs himself to blow up taking Dracula with him. This kills him, although in the comics Dracula survived it.

For a comic adaptation, this actually wasn't too bad, aside from the fact Blade wasn't in it concerning the story arc its taken from. The animation was standard for late-70s/early-80s TV quality, although that isn't too much considering studios like Ruby-Spears were a little around the same style. This was released in America on VHS in the mid-80s by Harmony Gold who are most famous for the train wreck known as Robotech. They added their regular staple of extremely bad dubbing on it, and had lines of dialogue that went on forever to fill in the lipflaps of the character, not to mention that the script was soooo corny that it makes Battle Of The Planets sound like Shakespeare. Despite that though, there is no censorship in it with plenty of blood and violence. However, the main draw to this movie is the fact that is an unexpectedly great source of schlockiness that I'm suprised the MST3K crew never went over it. Its great for a Halloween party, or just a drunken Rifftrax run. Where else are you gonna see the King of Vampires enjoying a Big Mac?

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