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[R1 DVD box art]
AKA: バンパイアハンターD (Japanese)
Genre: Fantasy horror
Length: Movie, 80 minutes
Distributor: R1 DVD from Urban Vision; VHS from Streamline out of print
Content Rating: 16+ (graphic violence, adult situations)
Related Series: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Also Recommended: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Vampire Princess Miyu, Blood
Notes: Based on a novel series by Hideyuki Kikuchi, with art by Yoshitaka Amano. There is also a manga with art by Saiko Takaki, published by Media Factory.

The DVD this review is based on is rated M, while my old European VHS copy was rated 15. Make of that what you will.
Rating:
 

Vampire Hunter D

Synopsis

Marked by Count Magnus Lee, Doris Lang finds herself looking for a way out of her predicament. Along comes D, vampire hunter of much mystery, who quickly finds himself involved in the business of the Count and his desires.

Review

Ah, Vampire Hunter D. The second anime I ever watched, back in Manga Entertainment's European division's heyday of fifteened scripts and hilarious dubs. When cheap animation looked quite different from the cheap animation of today.

Being the second anime I watched, it's also safe to say that I also watched it a long time before I watched its "sequel" Bloodlust, which, despite the gushing-needs-to-be-downgraded review I wrote, had a really good, coherent story and the visuals to match. It's important to keep this in mind, because compared to it, the original Vampire Hunter D is a goddamn mess. But a damn entertaining one, mind you.

Taking place in the year 12.090 -- I guess they're just making damn sure we'll never reach that time like so many other bad "futuristic" post-apocalyptic movies before it -- the world has been reduced to.... a spaghetti western. Unlike the equally entertaining Fist of the North Star movie, Vampire Hunter D doesn't really tell what has happened to reduce the Earth to the state it's in. In fact, it wastes no time introducing us to Doris and her predicament as she hunts down and blows the head off some random dinosaur-like monster for having the audacity to eat apples very, very loudly. It was probably trespassing on her property, and a girl has to look out for herself, right?

Anyway, she immediately runs into the Count, who spends about half a minute roaring like a maniac with his mouth wide open before calming down and presenting himself like a gentleman and accusing her of trespassing on HIS property. Um, oops? After this, we immediately segue to Doris' meeting with D, who rides into her life like a proper ol' western hero. She gets her tough, action girl smack talk out of the way before melting to his manly charms like butter in a pan. He brings her into town, where we meet the OAV's resident slimeball whose every line in Doris' direction drips with "I want to put my penis into you". Commence town meeting, where Doris gets ostracised due to her bitemarks and D promising to hunt down the Count.

With that exposition out of the way, the OAV goes into this strange, repeating kidnapping-rescue routine. Doris gets kidnapped, D goes to rescue her. Her brother, Dan gets kidnapped, D goes to rescue him. While that happens, Doris is lured away from the house and nearly kidnapped, D goes to rescue her. And after a near-death experience, Doris gets taken from her home again, and D goes "screw this, I'm going home". (Note: May not be entirely correct.) Yes, there are various subplots inbetween, like our resident slimeball stealing a candle that makes vampires weak from Magnus' minions, or Doris standing naked, post gratitous shower scene, before our hero, professing her love and literally egging him to sink his fangs into her neck. Since, you know, D is a dhampire and all. (If you are unfamiliar with the VHD lore, D's father is... shall we say, a very famous vampire lord who, much like Count Magnus, had a preferance for human women. Though not as casual as Magnus, of course.) This neatly establishes D's character as the tortured half-vampire who refuses to feed on people, and is perhaps the only part of Vampire Hunter D that gives of the impression of effort.

Because the aforementioned back-and-forth's only serve as an excuse for D to get his action groove on, this is where the show also gets literally messy. See, D is an old practicioner of the "barging in through the front door" school of action scenes, and he's not about to let anything get in his way if they come within reach of his absurdly long sword. This is where the OAV takes on the visceral qualities of an early Peter Jackson movie, like Braindead/Dead Alive. Monsters die as their blood fly all over the place. In some cases, we get the classic scene where someone would give a surprised expression as their bodyparts fly off in different directions. Hell, some of the monsters literally explode in a shower of flesh and gore. It's actually so completely ridiculous that it actually passes what would otherwise be a certified Mature rating and goes back down to 15, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it's part of the reason why I think Vampire Hunter D is as entertaining as it is.

And this goes on all the way to the ending, where D once again rescues Doris -- just in the nick of time, naturally -- and we learn just who D really is. (It's not exactly subtle, but at least they didn't go with the name Alucard, because that would just be silly.) And so, Vampire Hunter D ends just like it started; as a big, ol' spaghetti western with some mild post-acopalyptic fantasy elements. D rides off into the sunset while Doris and Dan runs after him begging him to come back some day. One bizarre time-lapse moment later, and the OAV ends in another Manga Entertainment traditional staple: hilariously awful synth-pop that REALLY clashes with what we just tried watching.

It's an awful, awful OAV, but in case I haven't made it clear enough already, it's just so damn entertaining. It's a poorly executed, noisy, garish mess, filled with the kind of awful accents you'd expect when people are trying to sound vaguely Romanian despite not even being remotely close to it. It's a shame that bad anime like this is an artform that is pretty much lost, because this is the kind of show you can -- and should -- watch with a group of friends for added entertainment value.

A mess, but a hilarious mess.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Some rather graphic and silly gore is present in this flick, as well as a fair amount of gratuitous nudity and sexual references on the part of Doris. Not for kids, although the Nightmare on Elm Street crowd might dig this title.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Vampire Hunter D © 1985 Epic / Sony / Movic