Posts Tagged ‘Blade’

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!


Now, when you say MARVEL movie you are probably thinking of  mega successful Iron Man trilogy or even more successful The Avengers but the truth of the mater is- Marvel movies were laughing stock of ar movie industry for years. Between barely animated cartoons, horrible TV shows (Spider-man and Hulk I’m looking at you) and occasional low- budget disaster it took couple of decades and New Line Cinema’s Blade (featuring minor comicbook character) to turn the tide. After that FOX decided to put some money into making of X-Men and Spidey franchises and the rest is history.

And now we get to what interests us, the most obscure thing from the Dark Age of Marvel Movie Universe- The Fantastic Four! No, not FOX’s Fantastic Four from 2005 (although that’s kinda bad too) but original Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four from 1992. You never heard of it? Strange- because trailer was attached to your copy of Carnousaur (and don’t tell me you don’t have VHS/ DVD of Carnosaur please). Anyway, the only reason for this film’s existence is the fact that the company that owned movie rights to FF, had to make a movie of forfeit that rights. They didn’t really feel like spending a bunch of money of a comicbook/ SF flick but they still wanted to keep rights (’cause you never know)- so they decided to play it smart and hire Roger Corman to produce incredibly lo-fi version of film (without ever telling him that they don’t really plan on releasing it, like EVER).

So this came down in history as the only Corman film never released but the producer made a deal with MARVEL, they agreed to pay for the movie (securing it never sees a light of day), ended up with a profit of few million and everybody walked away happy. Except for Corman, who’s still pissed about it. Of course bootleg copy eventually find it’s way online and you can finally uncover the mystery of Fantastic Four right here on WM.





Movie starts with young Reed Richards and his best pal Victor Von Doom (who wouldn’t want a friend with a name like that) breaking into some science facility (by all accounts located on their campus) and using the passing of a comet for some kind of god awful experiment. Of course as things go awry and Doom gets electrocuted and seemingly dies. This shutters Reed by somehow he recovers in no time. Then we find out that he’s living in a boarding house with a mother of two young children Sue Johnny Storm (interesting).

We flash forward to the future- the 90’s (yes the 90’s)! Reed and his new pal Ben Grimm (hope nothing bad happens to this one) are finishing up work on some experimental, crystal powered space- craft. They need skills astronauts to accompany them but Reed being genius that he is decides to take his old friends the Storms for a ride! Now imagine this- strange man that lived in your place in his collage years comes out of nowhere one morning and offers to take your children (now teenagers) to space! Just because. Mother being stupid enough to give housing to this dangerous man accepts to help him potentially kill her children and all is set to go.

The Fantastic Four (1994).avi_000946779“FANTASTIC FOUR”

Reed being a cool cat that he is, dedicates the mission to his “dead” friend Doom and off they go. Spacecraft malfunctions because the Jewler (knock- off of  more famous FF villain Mole Man) steals their fuel- the crystal and replaces it with a cheap knock- off ( how appropriate). Not only do they crash land (which is strange because the ship clearly exploded to pieces)- they menage to get seriously irradiated by “cosmic rays”. Somehow they survive and soon they discover they’ve been mysteriously granted an amazing powers.

The Fantastic Four (1994).avi_001824322Now I see you, now I can’t!

They don’t really get to explore their new found powers because they end up captured by Victor’s man. They eventually get the hang of their powers enough to escape them and regroup back at their base- the baxter building! Only Ben Grimm decides to leave horrified with the fact that he became a rock monster (probably the only decently done FX job in the whole movie). Next we see the Thing staggering the streets, seemingly trying to score a hooker (not sure that could end well).

The Fantastic Four (1994).avi_003728758Thing and his new lady friend

Doom confronts the Jewler because he needs the crystal to finally capture the power of the comet (he still can’t get that behind him after all these years). It turns out he gave the jewel to blind artist Alicia Masters (who he also lovingly kidnapped to be his bride). Now Alicia is of course not impressed with Jewler and his horde of underground dwelling hobos- she likes Ben Grimm even thou he destroyed some of her artwork (or maybe even because of it). Doom, angry, seizes the diamond for himself and threatens to kill Alicia, and then out of nowhere Grimm comes barging in trying to stop him! …and the (I kid you not) HE REVERTS BACK TO HIS HUMAN FORM! You know, the form he can tragically never reclaim! It his one movie Corman and co destroy the whole concept of this truly compelling character and made him into the Hulk Lite (and as Coca Cola Light showed us- nothing Lite is ever good).

The Fantastic Four (1994).avi_004611773Doom is a Gangsta!

Anyway, he menages to Thing- out again couple minutes later but it’s already too late. Doom captures him, the girl and takes them with the famed crystal back to his home country of Latveria in Eastern  Europe. He must have had some superior means of transportation because they are in his castle in about a minute- already draining the Thing of his cosmic power. This already looks a lot like the original incident that nearly killed him- but some people never learn. The rest of a Fantastic Four decide is the right time and after they get themselves a nifty costumes they come to save their peer.They kinda fail, at least at first and get captured (and drained ofc). Mr. Fantastic finally uses his elongating powers to escape and bring fight to Doom. What’s fascinating is how Doom with all that might and resorses (coupled with scientific brilliance) still uses and old fashion gun- a luger pistol as his primary weapon. Then doom launches the rocket that could supposedly bring the end of the world as we now it but in scenes ripped directly form old Fleischer’s Superman cartoons from the ’40 Johnny Storm now Human Torch stops it.



Directly lifted from Superman: The Mad Scientist (1941)

In the final Doom decides to commit suicide just to further torture the  Mr.Fantastic, who doesn’t seem all that bothered and soon marries his sweetheart Sue and presumably lives
happily ever after.

Verdict: People complain that super-hero movies of today (notably Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Snyder’s Man of Steel) are too dark and grim, too serious but God damn imagine if comicbook movies reverted back into this- now that would be a true horror!

Trivia 1: The legend of this movie became so big that it finally got it’s own documentary DOOMED: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s “The Fantastic Four”. You can see the trailer bellow.


Trivia 2: Depending on who you ask, our country Serbia is a neighbor/part of Latveria, the land on evil genius and monarch Victor Von Doom.You can see the proof straight out of Secret Avengers comicbook
(by Warren Ellis and Alex Maleev) right here.