Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

You know, I’m not normally one to criticize the DVD instead of the movie, but I really must take exception here. This DVD, to put it bluntly, really sucks the root. I would have thought that, as the sequel to a pretty famous anime, this would at least be able to enjoy a fairly standard treatment, but instead we got one that a) is dubbed only, and with one of the worst dub jobs I’ve heard in my life, and b) had such an atrocious sound mix that I had to constantly change the volume throughout the movie. Seriously, it would be so quiet during scenes of dialogue that I had to strain to hear it, and this would be interspersed with action scenes so damn loud that I had to turn the volume down to levels so low they’re normally reserved for when I’m trying not to wake my mother up while watching nazi porn. Even though the movie itself isn’t very good, this is just a flat-out disgrace.

But yes, on to the movie itself. For those that haven’t seen the original, D is a dunpeal, which is the offspring of a vampire and a human, and he goes around his vaguely post-apocalyptian world killing vampires and other monsters for exorbitantly high prices. He’s accompanied by his trusty talking hand and whatever Strong Independent Women fall for him. Here he’s hired to rescue the daughter of some rich guy who’s been kidnapped by a vampire that intends to make her his bride. The plot isn’t much, but it does provide us with some nice monsters, and a visual flair that’s superior to the original film. My personal favorite of the monsters was one that killed people by stabbing their shadows, kind of like the Shadows from Dungeons & Dragons. No sight of a Beholder, sadly, but I guess they have to leave something for the third film.

I think one of the main problems with this film, as with the original, is that everyone’s powers are so poorly defined. At no point is it ever explained just how powerful D is (though, much like the Tick, or Superman in his last movie, it seems to be “just as strong as required for the scene at hand”), or what exactly he can do. He just wades into battle killing everything with his comically oversized sword which can somehow kill everything, even monsters that are generally somewhat renowned for needing somewhat convoluted executions. The vampires are no help either; they all seem to know magic, and can shapeshift, and survive in daylight long enough to at least start a dramatic fight at sundown. It’s hard to really care about anything, when it seems to be random chance whenever a non-human dies. Perfect example: one of the monsters is a woman that can transform her body and take the substance of whatever she’s touching. So when she’s run over by a tank, she of course clings to the bottom, turns into steel, and sends a bunch of steel spikes of herself up through the bottom of the tank to attack everyone inside. Later she transforms into wood, because clearly that’s going to turn out better, and is beheaded and chopped in half by D, and certainly seems to die, but after he leaves for a nap she’s back up to menace a human character, only to be finally killed by a bolt of lightning. Why did the lightning work when a goddamned beheading didn’t? Don’t know, and didn’t really have any reason to care. I won’t even get into what the main villain Carmilla could do, because I really haven’t the slightest idea.

There’s also a problem of how preachy and melodramatic the film is. Since D is a half-breed, there’s much ado made about how intolerant small town folk are about him (and about the human girl trying to run off with a vampire), dragging whatever momentum the film had to a screeching halt to give us lame sermons on the evils of racism. What happens during the overly long epilogue, I will not reveal, but it is quite tedious.

This film does have some good moments to it, but is pretty poor overall, and the abominable DVD just hurts it even further. If you’re looking to expand your anime collection, this is not the way to do it.

Rating: * factoring in the terrible DVD, * ½ for the movie in general

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