Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll (1970) 720p

Movie Poster
Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll (1970) - Movie Poster
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
Japanese 2.0  
Run Time:
85 min
IMDB Rating:
6.5 / 10 
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Directors: Michio Yamamoto [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Kazuhiko Sagawa returns from the USA to Tokyo and immediately travels to the countryside in a stormy night to see his fiancee Y?ko Nonomura in an isolated house in the woods. Her mother Shidu Nonomura tells that Y?ko died in a car accident two weeks ago. Kazuhiko spends the night in the house and during the night he overhears and sees Y?ko in the nearby cemetery. A couple of days later, his sister Keiko Sagawa convinces her fiance Hiroshi Takagi to seek her brother out at Y?ko's house where they disclose the mystery of the Nonomura's family. —Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


  • Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll (1970) - Movie Scene 1
  • Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll (1970) - Movie Scene 2
  • Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll (1970) - Movie Scene 1

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Fascinating, entertaining Japanese vampire flick

Fascinating attempt by Toho to capitalize on recent Western vampire movies like the Hammer flicks. This movie has all the gothic trappings one would expect from its Western counterparts, but folds in a dose of the kind of wacky storytelling the characterizes other Japanese horror movies. The Vampire Doll seems pretty conventional (not in a bad way), until out of nowhere we get a bunch of exposition that tells the strangest, out of left field backstory, which,we learn, led up to the events of the movie.

Stylistically, the biggest mistake here is the overuse of day for night shooting, which also happens to be a failing of a lot of the Hammer movies. Nonetheless, between the fog and the excellent soundtrack with very creepy wailings and wind, this one is well worth seeing for fans of Gothic supernatural horror. Lots of fun.

Not very strong, but passingly adequate

If 'The vampire doll' is any indication, Toho 70s horror is a lot like 70s Hammer horror. Stylized atmospheric music, both repetitive and a little over the top, sparingly punctuates a soundtrack otherwise left quiet and unembellished. Minor mystery and unease slowly build while more jarring moments - some as simply innocuous as birds scattering - are littered throughout.

I admire the set and costume design, and the makeup, careful lighting, and minor effects used especially in the visual presentation of the curious business of the plot. Speaking of which, though - the screenplay is rather thin. There is definite plot here, but there's just not a great deal to it, and any sense of tension or suspense is minimal. Character writing is similarly lacking. I think the cast is just fine, embodying their roles with as much strength of personality as they can, but it's not like they have a whole lot to work with.

Almost no element of the feature is anything more than merely suitable in its execution. That doesn't mean 'The vampire doll' is bad, but one has to be prepared to accept the ham-handedness for what it is. That includes a deluge of revelations - nearly the entirety of the story - within the last 10 minutes or so of the movie. I'll say this, though: The climax actually is done quite well, making swell if unrefined use of visual and practical effects and editing. True of the supernatural aspect of the movie in general, but particularly here, one can see how unpolished flicks of decades past informed more contemporary Japanese horror cinema about malevolent entities.

It's not especially gripping, the writing is questionable, and the end result leaves a bit to be desired; this is no essential classic. But if you can appreciate the picture on its level, it just manages to keep us engaged enough to enjoy the modest value. Don't go out of your way to find 'The vampire doll,' but it's an okay watch if you stumble across it.

A Creepy and (Mostly) Fine Ghost Story

Despite its vampire titling, I would place this film more in the ghost-story genre (featuring that famous figure of Japanese horror cinema: the creepy, and ever-silent, female, child-like waif).

My short summary is that, in the end, the film does not quite capitalize on the wonderfully eerie mood it builds, but that it is well worth a watch and has some great (and occasionally scary) cinematic moments. (My main complaint is that the film ends up using what I will call the "Scooby Doo" reveal at several points, in that it employs both peripheral and central characters to tell us, in narrative format, the backstory: the who, what, where, when and why. It's a strange choice for a movie that relies so heavily on images and subtle expressions for the first 75% of the running time.)

While some have compared the film to the Hammer offerings, the moral universe here is not quite as "modern" in its themes, as its chief concerns are with familial loss, personal revenge and the ripples of social violence. (Even Hammer's historically oriented offerings-- say, the Witchfinder General or the Karnstein Trilogy-- tend to be preoccupied with much more contemporary themes.)

In terms of aesthetics, my own comparison would be to something like "Carnival of Souls" and, as a result of the really fine cinematography of Kazutami Hara, to something a Hitchcock understudy might have made. (My understanding is that the producers did want something like a Hammer-style vampire movie, but that the director was definitely looking for something in the Hitchcock vein. That might explain the somewhat disjointed style at points.)

Anyway, worth a watch, particularly as there are some really memorably unsettling episodes involving Yuko dispersed throughout the firlm. (The likes of Wei-Hao Cheng and Takashi Shimizu must have studied this film for inspiration.)

A side note: It's never developed enough to warrant extended consideration, but I could not help but notice the role that "the foreign" plays in this film (it's even more pronounced in "Lake of Dracula," the second installment in the trilogy). There are many instances where we learn that various male characters in movie have traveled beyond their homes / overseas as diplomats, to the US on business, in service for the war, etc., and that this contact or travel has unsettled the world in which they live. In at least two instances, this impact of foreign culture / foreign contact becomes very important to the narrative. It's easy to miss, but does some plot-work nonetheless.
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