When this Dracula anime was made in 1980, vampires were something of a living fossil. While Interview with a Vampire had been published a few years beforehand, the new wave of goth-erotic vampiredom had yet to really sink in with most peeps. To the average dude, Dracula and his ilk were little more than late night UHF flicks and easy-to-make Halloween costumes at best. Drac was totally passé.
With that in mind, the Dracula anime is kinda awesome.
The plot of this Dracula movie is all about old terror (vampires) versus new terror (Satanism). 1980′s right in the midst of all those “Dungeons and Dragons is of Satan!” scares and the like. Boogyemen and vampires didn’t scare people, but they were scared of their neighbor being a human-sacrificing Satan worshiper. Well, some people were scared of that shit– the Satanism angle was far more culturally relevant at the time.
So here we have this cult of Satan trying to bring their dark lord to the mortal plane, and they intend to gift him with a hand-chosen bride so that they will be in his good graces when the time comes for him to do his evil deeds. But Dracula’s pissed at Satan. Satan may have made him the bloodsucking monster that we all love, but Dracula is sick of that shit. He’s been chased out of his beloved home of Transylvania by hordes of do-gooding vampire hunters and has been forced to live in Boston, and Dracula is pissed. So what does he do? When the Satanists are trying to present their master with his new bride, Dracula masquerades as Lucifer and claims the bride as his own with the intent of killing her out of spite for the being that created him.
It’s almost as if this antiquated movie monster is pissed at these young usurpers and wants to get back at them for stealing his job. The catalyst of the movie’s plot is spite. It’s like one of those stories where the old actress or veteran cop wants to get back at the up-and-comer or some shit like that, except it’s an old school monster being jealous of the new wave of terror.
So, on that level the movie’s pretty interesting. It’s made in this transitional period where we’re moving away from the classic movie monsters and into the realm of slashers and other tropes, and the old guard is fighting back. But that isn’t what makes this movie awesome.
The movie is crazy in all the right ways.
Dracula steals away Satan’s bride. That’s the catalyst of all the shit that goes down in this movie. But it isn’t the act of theft that pisses off Satan. If anything, Satan was probably cracking up over Dracula’s little prank. Satan’s all about the punking, and he can probably appreciate a good one when it’s pulled on him. What brings forth Satan’s wrath is the fact that Dracula falls in love with Satan’s intended bride. Again, Satan wouldn’t mind sharing this woman with Drac. He’s all about the menage a trois and would probably want a piece of Drac’s booty at the same time. It’s the notion that one of his servants is capable of love that infuriates Satan. Satan doesn’t roll with that love shit.
And to make matters worse, Dracula sires a child with his new bride, and Dracula loves this kid with all of his heart.
So Satan’s pissed at Dracula for turning this movie into a touching father and son drama. I’d be pissed about that too and I’m nowhere near Dark Lord of Hell levels of evil.
Drac’s son is at the heart of this movie’s weirdness. By giving him a son, the movie is trying to make Dracula into a sympathetic figure. When we flash back to his days as Vlad Tepes, Drac tries to tell us that his people were peaceful and virtuous and that he did nothing to instigate the constant invasions from barbarians and the like. And while Vlad’s impaling nature is acknowledged, it’s brushed off as a necessary tactic to use against his enemies to scare them away. Nevermind that the real life Vlad was a sociopathic murderer who butchered his own people. Nope. This Vlad is a Balkan version of Robin Hood or some shit.
Despite his attempts to convince the audience that he’s merely a tragic hero forced into undeadhood by Satan, Dracula’s actions tell a different story. While he falls in love with Dolores, Satan’s bride, at first sight, almost immediately after that he hits the town and savagely attacks and murders at least two other women. Mind you, these women are completely innocent as far as we know. While we find out that Dolores came from a rough family and fell into Satanism as a lark, she’s the one that chose to become Satan’s bride. Despite her sins against God, she’s spared Dracula’s wrath due to his arbitrary love-at-first-sight, while these women who, y’know, aren’t willing brides of Satan get unceremoniously devoured by Dracula. The bastard isn’t even kind enough to turn them into the undead. He just leave them to die.
Dracula’s personality is “inconsistent” like this throughout the movie. While he mourns the death of his son at the hands of the Satanists, he shows no hint of remorse when vampire hunters come looking for him out of revenge. Two of the vampire hunters are descendants of victims of Dracula, and they mourn their losses just as much as Dracula mourns his son, but he shows no sign of sympathy. Finding true love in Dolores and fatherly love in his son has done nothing to shed light on his past deeds– Dracula is still the vicious hand of Satan that he was before.
And when God resurrects Drac’s dead son, only to use the boy as a vessel to kill vampires, Dracula’s first concern isn’t over his son’s rebirth. Dracula is pissed that this is going to lead to his son killing him.
Basically, Dracula’s a bit of an hypocritical dick in this movie. He wants all the love and adoration that comes with having a family, but he still wants to be the Prince of Darkness feared by all the mortals of the world. And as far as he’s concerned, those mortals aren’t deserving of the same quaint delights that he enjoys with his new family.
Then there’s all the crazy quirky moments strung about the movie. When Drac looses his vampirehood, he feels all of the hunger he never felt due to his undead nature. It was as if all those cravings of the munchies from the past 500 years all came back and hit him at once. So what does he do? He mugs some poor bastard and uses the cash to buy a hamburger and Denny’s. And when God resurrects Drac’s son, the kid is aged to a full-grown adult decked out in an outfit that looks like something out of a Blue Beetle comic book. And to make the whole situation crazier, the kid is basically a nega-vampire, complete with sunlight coming out of his eyes and the ability to turn into a golden eagle instead of a bat. This kid could have had his own Saturday morning cartoon airing after Thundarr the Barbarian. Then there’s the bit where Dolores suddenly gains saintly miracle powers and kicks Satan’s ass. That tells me that the direct way to sainthood is to become a Satanist and then kick Satan’s ass. I’m sure that’s how Mother Theresa did it.
So Dracula’s this weird little artifact that could have only been made during the late 70′ or early 80′s. It’s great stuff.