I’m not a big vampire fan. There are exceptions, and they’re notable. I can’t wait, for example, for Morbius to hit the screen. I am a fan of anime, but not as fanatically devoted to it as a number of my fellow nerds. Combining these things, however, now there’s a concept. And so, let’s have a look at Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.
Vampire Hunter D
Of the two, I gotta admit Vampire Hunter D just ticks off more boxes for me. I love the combination of vampires, swords, occultism, and a vaguely post-apocalyptic Western type setting. If you’re not familiar, I’m about to suck (heh) all the fun outta this with some spoilers. See, what we don’t find out until well into the movie is that D is in fact a vampire/human hybrid called a dhampir (or a dunpeal in the parlance of the anime).
I know…you might be thinking, “Well. Blade first showed up in Tomb Of Dracula from The Glorious House Of Marvel back in 1973, so they ripped off Stan Lee.” Not so fast there, bloodbag. I’ll see your Blade and raise you some Balkan folklore.
Dhampirs in many ways get the best of both worlds. There are the advantages of being a vampire: supernatural strength and speed, eerie grace, and unmatched skill and dexterity. The disadvantages are offset by the human element: no need to drink blood, no having to shun daylight (though it will periodically make him ill for a few hours). All of this, along with a number of other attributes made clear in the movies and the manga, makes D kinda The. Ultimate. Vampire Hunter.
In terms of plot, much like Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider, D just happens to show up outta nowhere just as things go sideways for Doris Lang. Poor Doris has fallen victim to a 10,000-year-old bloodsucker, Count Magnus Lee. Also like Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, D is hired to hunt down and kill the count (who, I’m sorry, has just got to be a reference to Christopher Lee and Hammer Horror)
What follows is assorted coolness and badassery including but not limited to vampire hunting, swordplay, bloodletting, snakewomen, demon mutant mutant demons, neck fanging, a wise-cracking symbiote, and some kinda demon monster thing that shoots spiders out of its back. Woohoo!
BODIES- 18 onscreen
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
This is a slightly different horse of a slightly different color. On one hand, another damsel in distress, Charlotte, and another toothy nobleman, Baron Meier Link. Somewhat downplayed are the dystopian wild West vibes. They’re still there, but definitely no longer at the forefront.
We also get to meet some more characters from the mythos established in the manga. First there are The Marcus Clan, said to be the greatest vampire hunters ever. Supposedly nobody tracking the same target as them has lived to tell the tale. There’s also The Barbarois, specifically shapeshifter Caroline, werewolf Mashira (with a massive additional mouth in the middle of his chest), and time/space illusionist Bengé. And are they ever some cool lookin’ baddies!
So in addition to his normal time-to-86-the-undead protocols, D now has to contend with these other hunters and those ruthless Barbarois acting as the Baron’s guards. Lots to do which, of course, he gets did. Oh, there’s one other twist I didn’t mention, and that’s The Vampire Queen, The Bloody Countess, Carmilla Elizabeth Bathory. Full marks there for jumbling up a couple literary vampire allusions into one character.
Carmilla is also a fine addition as her presence plays up the Gothic over the post-apocalyptic Western. At least until we get to, WTF, the spaceship. But still, it’s all castle-y, there’s a love story, and even a (gag, choke) happy ending. That said, the sequel more than makes up for its shortcomings by way of stabby slicey bloodshed. Still…I kinda prefer the first over the second. Must be love story.
BODIES- 99 onscreen