Tomb of Dracula

There's a difference between a simply bad movie and one that is profoundly awful. There are actually only a few truly execrable movies in existence, movies so bad that they make you want to run out of the theatre and buy space in the local paper to warn people not to go see them. Movies so bad that you are stunned, slack jawed, at their utter incompetence to the point of nausea are really pretty hard to find.

Tomb of Dracula is one of them.

Allegedly based on the Marvel comics' series of the same name from the 70s, Tomb of Dracula starts with a band of devil worshippers coming together to desecrate a church and to perform an unholy ceremony to sacrifice a young woman to the prince of darkness. After a lengthy oratory, they wind up not with the dark lord but with Dracula instead. Since none of them knows any better, they think that Dracula really is the right guy and give him the woman, with whom he promptly flies off. However, Dracula is strangely attracted to her and decides to make her his wife rather than his nightly feast. Meanwhile, a young man receives a call from an old weirdo to become a vampire hunter and track Dracula down. He eventually winds up in the search for Dracula, who we find out is actually a pretty decent guy deep down inside. But wait, there's plenty more! Thrill to young Mrs. Dracula's five minute speeches about his goodness at heart! Witness kung-fu battles with old men in wheelchairs fighting martial arts experts with pointy canes! And what other movie do you know of where Satan and God both make guest appearances?

This travesty was released in 1980 by Harmony Gold, the company later responsible for the surprisingly good but certainly infamous Robotech. Although some may find Carl Macek's work on that show heresy, it is infinitely better than this garbage (which he had nothing to do with). This picture is awful from the get-go, starting with a stupid narrative that opens the picture and continuing through its poor pacing, insipid dialogue, and ugly animation style. It's not exciting, it's not gory, it's not anything but deathly dull. In fact, this movie is so unbelievably bad that it could potentially inspire MST3K-style anime parties. I'm not kidding when I say that I laughed hysterically throughout the movie, but not because it was supposed to humorous--it's because the dialogue is so cheesy, so terrible, and yet so earnestly acted that one can't help getting at least the giggles. It has camp value, but that's it. As a motion picture, it is an unmitigated disaster.

It is questionable whether or not some would even consider this picture true anime; though it was made by Toei Animation, I cannot find a single current source that gives any release date in Japan. Since the plot was also based on an American comic book series, it is reasonable to believe that it was created for the American market. Nevertheless, there is the potential that an anime fan will pick this up off a dusty shelf at a nearby video store and think that it might be the next great find. If that anime fan is you, I make this humble plea: I beg you not to watch this movie. It is worse than every other title I have reviewed thus far in my career. That should say enough.

Tomb of Dracula -- violence, very strong occult themes, utter banality -- F