Originally released as Yûrei yashiki no kyôfu: Chi wo sû ningyô which translated into Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll, a clunky title by any means and more commonly known as The Vampire Doll, is a very stylish horror movie directed by Michio Yamamoto. Suffice it to say, the movie is indeed about a vampire, one named Yûko who lost her life in a tragic accident. After some time has passed, Yûko’s fiancé Kazuhiko goes to visit her at her mother’s house and learns of her passing which devastates him. Visiting her grave, he thinks he sees her and gives chase and finds a very different Yûko to the one he used to know, one ice cold to the touch. That would also be the last time we see Kazuhiko in the film and not soon after does his sister Keiko and her intended Hiroshi come to investigate where they discover the horrifying truth.
Like many of the better vampire movies out there, this one has a very dim atmosphere, one that is eerie, spooky and quite mysterious. The setting of the film, which takes place almost entirely in Yûko’s home where her mother Shidu lives, is very peaceful and calm, yet disturbing too. You can sense that something is wrong and it makes you, as well as the characters a little uneasy though nobody can put their finger upon just what it is about the place that makes it so. The actors in the film, specifically Kayo Matsuo who plays our leading lady Keiko, really put that feeling across and soon enough, strange things start happening in the house, the least of which is the supposed ghost of Yûko who makes an appearance or two.
Yukiko Kobayashi, who stars as Yûko, would sport some very good makeup and looked simultaneously beautiful and frightening. While her character was interesting overall and we learned her backstory, you never really knew exactly just what she became after death, whether ghost or vampire. She is described as both, man-made and devil-made and originally the child of a violent crime, but it never seemed as if the writers of the film, Hiroshi Nagano and Ei Ogawa could decide what to do. For the most part, you believe that she is a vampire, namely because the title says she is a bloodsucker/vampire and secondly because she needs blood to live as was told within the film. Whatever the case may be, it hardly lessened the entertainment factor of the movie or the horror found within.
Though it may not have been intended as such at first, Yamamoto would go on to direct two more pictures to complete a trilogy, of which this is the first entry. Fear of the Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll is a creepy film on many levels, especially when you discover what everyone’s involvement was, but it was also quite beautiful, particularly the way the serene elements met the ugly ones. A very enjoyable film and well-worth watching.
4 out of 5