Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned aka 闇の帝王 吸血鬼ドラキュラ (1980)

Posted: 03/11/2020 in Trash movies
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Last night I decided to watch Marvel’s X-Men anime, one of the number of Marvel collaborations with the legendary Japanese Animation Studio Madhouse (Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust).

Their dark and violent approach proved to be a pretty good fit with the X-Men comics but then I remembered that this wasn’t really the beginning of Marvel’s work with the Japanese Animation. Actually in the 1980 Marvel produced two feature length adaptation of their Horror line, first one being an adaptation of their popular The Tomb of Dracula comic by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan that ran for 70+ issues (and spawned now world famous Vampire Hunter Blade) called Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned. That adaptation can also be called Madhouse but for a more literal reason.

Movies starts like any other horror with outer Space!? (I guess The Howling 2 had that too.) Oh, yes- we have a narration that informs us about forming of the planets and one such planet is Earth. This might explain things- movie was made for Aliens! Then they zoom into Europe and Dracula’s castle in Transylvania just to inform us that he is no longer there because he had to constantly deal with the Vampire Hunters. So, like any other reasonable person he fled to Boston. Makes sense to me!

But in Boston some strange things are afoot. We are shown a satanic ritual in progress that as it is customary involves chanting and sacrificing a virgin. Now, in a strange twist of fate instead of Satan, creature of darkness that appears is actually Count Dracula but the followers guess not knowing any better (or thinking “good enough”) just give him the girl! He instead of bleeding the girl dry falls in love with her (without her even waking up) and goes out to bleed some other poor girl to death.

Dracula Attacks!

Day later news start reporting on a series of strange murders that happened. Frank Drake seems interested for some reason. He receives a call from a mysterious woman who dares call him by his original last name- Dracula! Turns out he is the descended of the human line of Dracula and gets pretty angry when someone confronts him about.He does go on a meeting with a woman and her elderly father in a wheelchair- but that father turns out to be Hans (not Quincy as it is in the comics) Van Helsing, continuing his family tradition of tracking Dracula down. He also has a nice tan for an old man. Now he wants Drake to join him as his newest Vampire Hunter but not before testing him with an old cane- blade!  Props for Rachel pushing his wheelchair faster and faster- what a team!

If only he could move some other way beside the straight line.

Satanist learn that their master is really angry ’cause he never received his gift– but he also tells them to wait a while for their revenge. He’s definitely plotting something.

While Hellsing’s team still searches for him without any results Dracula actually marries the girl Dolores and they even get a cute son- Janus! Satanists of course offer to baptize the child in a Black Mass and put in under the protection of Satan. Of course it is all a trap and the cult leader uses shining crosses and a gun loaded with silver bullets. Dracula turns into fog to escape but the leader accidentally shoots the child!? Damn, the Japanese really show no mercy! Dracula kills him but then gets ambushed by Hellsings, I mean his day just goes from bad to worse. He narrowly escapes leaving his wife in tears holding the body of their child. He really is a terrible person.

After his disappearance we move to New York, New York– mustachioed idiot picks up a sexy Redhead Layla in a discotheque. Well, it turns out she is the vampire! Can’t say I feel to bad for him. Back in Boston we see Dolores mourning on the graveyard just to witness some sort of act of God. Janus is suddenly resurrected and aged up into some kind of Angelic Vampire Hunter. Dracula tries to interfere but fails miserably. This Dracula is a bit of a loser.

 

New super-hero-like Janus attacks his father but after a short altercation Dracula runs away. Dracula then confronts Satan himself and manages to get strip off his powers. Now left being a mere mortal he steels the money from a homeless person to buy a hamburger.

 

See how happy he is! You could have ended the whole movie right there.

Now that he is just a mortal he decides to begs other vampires like lady vampire Layla.  to turn him back which lead him back to his home in Transylvania. Interesting how he wanted to be human but when he got what he wanted he was ready to do anything just to be a vampire again. I guess grass is always greener on the other side. There he finds a Vampire named Sir Tomo usurped his title and refuses to give it up and Dracula has to fight some Zombies? He also uses a cross to save some orphans, so he’s a good guy now?  Old man Harker doesn’t give a damn about all of that and blows himself and Dracula both. Janus returns to his crying mother and they vow to make a clean start together. The End

 

Verdict:  It might not be the best but Dracula sure is the first long- form animated movie based on the Marvel property so it definitely has some historical value despite it’s
undoubtable trash- movie value.

Somewhere in the English to Japanese to English translation some wires got crossed and even after re-watching it for this review I am still not quite sure what I saw. Best guess is- Toei got a plot in English, they did their thing with it (not really understanding the Western culture at all) and then in the states when Harmony Gold tried to fix things with new dialogue and dubbing they somehow managed to make things even more bat-shit crazy!

If nothing else this movie gave us this iconic shot of Dracula eating a hamburger. You sure won’t find this in other Dracula movie!

                 

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