Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980, Japan)

Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980)

Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (Yami no teiô kyuketsuki dorakyura) 闇の帝王 吸血鬼ドラキュラ (1980) (89 minutes)
Directed by Akinori Nagaoka and Minoru Okazaki.

aka Dracula / Tomb of Dracula

Written by Tadaaki Yamazaki.
Adapted from the 1972-79 comic book series The Tomb of Dracula, published by Marvel Comics.
Starring Kenji Utsumi, Hiroko Suzuki and Kazuyuki Sogabe.

Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980)


I heard of this anime film years ago but heard such bad things it put me off, then last week I found a good review on it that mentioned the plot and I thought I’d give it a go. Firstly like many other reviewers I must admit this is probably the craziest Dracula plot ever. It’s based of Tomb of Dracula issues 40-75 and as such there’s a lot going on, from Dracula having a child after tricking satanists into thinking he’s Satan, to the death of the child and his resurrection as an angel. All the main points from the book are followed but they’re rushed too much I didn’t get the chance to appreciate Dracula’s moments with his son or even his relationship with Dolores which is handled in flashbacks.

There’s a few changes from the comic like Frank Drake is now a martial art expert, and the vampire tracking dog, but I’m willing to put up with them. The change that annoys me most is the name change of Dracula’s bride from Domini to Dolores. I can’t help but picture an old woman. I also think more should have been made of the Satanist plot to show Dracula accepting role as head of church. That way the attack on him would have been more tense. Dracula doesn’t speak much either which again damages the plot as he could explain all the jumping around.

Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned (1980)

Visual wise I like the way they kept Dracula’s design like the comics; even his eyebrows. The feeding scenes and various still shots are very eighties, arty and seem true to the comic. The way fangs and eyes glint, and even have a sound effect to indicate how important they are to a scene is a bit overkill. There’s a real Scooby-Doo vibe to the visuals but more like earlier Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. The eyes of many people are closed throughout – mouths frequently move after talking [in the Harmony Gold dub] – it has a low budget feel in this way.

Overall this film is very true to the comic and has a good storyline but it’s too rushed. The visuals in part are faithful to the comic but frequently seem low budget. If you liked Tomb of Dracula I’d definitely recommend this. If you’re looking for a different Dracula film you should enjoy it.

David Jenkins