Review: Vampire Doll (1970)


If you've ever wished you could combine gothic 70s Hammer flicks with Japanese cinema, you're in luck. Director Michio Yamamoto's Vampire Doll delivers plenty of creepy goodness despite its derivative plot and cheeseball performances. The tale follows Yuko, a young man who visits his adorable lady love in the countryside. Unfortunately for the poor guy, his girlfriend seemingly perished in a car accident prior to his arrival. Given the mysterious nature of her untimely demise, it's only a matter of time before Yuko stumbles across something sinister... and promptly disappears as well. Now it's up to his sister and her boyfriend to figure out what the hell is happening inside this kooky (and spooky) Japanese manor. Given that Vampire Doll belongs to the so-called Bloodthirsty Trilogy, it's easy to see which path this story takes. Plus, you know, it's right there in the title.

Despite its age (and the occasionally goofy nature of the material), Vampire Doll manages to elicit a surprisingly high number of shocks and genuinely creepy moments. And while the film drags a little toward the middle, it pulls out all the stops for one frightfully memorable finale (complete with a nifty arterial spray). Tracking down this flick no longer requires downloading dodgy illegal copies or picking up sub-par DVD releases. The fine folks at Arrow Video recently unleashed the Bloodthirsty Trilogy in all its gothic glory (alongside Lake of Dracula and Legacy of Dracula). The set is well worth the cash, especially if you have a thing for classic Japanese cinema -- and you still have some mileage left for tired old vampire stories.

Vampire Doll might lack originality, but it makes up for this shortcoming with a heaping helping of atmosphere and tension. Plus, the titular vampire doll delivers the chills in ways I hadn't expected. Arrow Video, those clever bastards, have delivered again.

Share:

Short Story: Medicinehead - A Fairy Tale



I sit in an empty room.

Wooden walls, concrete floor.

Worn mattress.

Someone fashioned this stool from an old iron tractor seat. I'm very uncomfortable, but that doesn't matter.

I sit here.

Waiting.

Waiting.

What time is it?

How long until sleep?

I have no frame of reference.

The room doesn't have windows. Miranda removed the clock years ago. She said it only made me anxious.

It did.

I'm nervous all the time.

My hands shake.

People make me nervous.

I don't like talking to them, and they don't like talking to me. That's fine. They're here for a service.

A service I provide.

For my useless family.

When their debt is paid off, I can leave.

Escape this room.

The wooden walls.

Concrete floor.

Worn mattress.

Iron stool.

Someone knocks on the door. They use the familiar rhythm, the one that tells me they've paid Miranda.

They must pay Miranda first.

Always.

Those are the rules.

Once, someone broke that rule.

Opened the door.

Rushed in.

Grabbed my ear.

Sucked.

I screamed for Miranda

 She entered the room with a shotgun. Her husband, Eugene, followed close behind. He had an ax.

"Stop it," she said, leveling the shotgun at the intruder.

But he kept sucking.

The fluid drained from my head.

I could feel my eyes drying out.

That happens.

I can't help it.

The feeding dries me out.

 I could feel my skinny body begin to seize.

The man sighed and stepped back.

Satisfied.

"Doesn't matter," he said, laughing. "I've got the medicine. I'm all better, huh? Nothing you can do now, bitch."

Miranda smiled.

Pulled the trigger.

The shot caught him in the gut, sent him flying back against the wall. His insides spilled out of the hole.

Healed?

Broken.

It took two seconds to change things up.

Miranda fixed the problem.

She handles everything.

Money.

Feeding.

Bathroom breaks.

Shackles.

Eugene provides the muscle. When Miranda needs something done, she points. He immediately sets to work.

Completes the task.

Retreats.

He's never spoken to me.

I'm not important.

I am Miranda's prisoner.

I am a product.

A machine.

Until the debt is paid.

The knock on the door returns, harder this time.

Insistent.

I was lost in thought.

No room for mistakes in this place.

With wooden walls, concrete floors.

"Enter," I call out.

The door slowly opens.

A young mother and her daughter stand in the doorway. They look nervous. I know that feeling well.

Too well.

"Hello," I tell them. "Step forward."

The process unnerves people.

It unnerves me, too.

I try to put them at ease.

Relax.

Take a breath.

I am here to help.

Not harm.

I motion for the mother to step forward.

"How can I help?" I ask.

"Molly," the mother said, gripping her daughter's shoulders tightly. "She's so sick. She bleeds."

I look at the little girl.

So frail.

So pale.

She coughs.

Blood flows from her mouth.

Nose.

Lung cancer? I don't know. I don't diagnose. I just assess the problem and put my mind to work.

I process what I see.

Fragility.

Malnutrition.

Bleeding.

Sadness.

Hopelessness.

She's dying.

Mentally and physically.

My mind comes alive.

The juices flow.

I can feel the substance bubbling in my skull, splashing against my brain. It tickles, hurts. But I have no choice.

Until I've paid those debts.

Here I sit.

And help.

Under different circumstances, perhaps I wouldn't mind so much. But I am a slave to Miranda.

I am a slave to my father's debts.

My mother's weakness.

I am a slave.

"Step forward, please," I say.

Gently, the mother pushes her daughter.

The little girl takes small steps.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

She's in front of me.

I close my eyes.

"Don't be scared," I tell her. "In a moment, you'll see a straw stick out of my ear, okay? I want you to take a drink."

I can't see her reaction.

I don't need to.

I feel the fear.

Terror.

Horror.

She knows this situation is unnatural. She understands that what happens here doesn't happen anywhere else.

It's instinct.

Human instinct.

She knows.

Then, I feel it.

I'm told it looks like a tube fashioned from spoiled meat and bad dreams. It drips green fluid, thick and slimy.

Once, I was normal.

Long ago.

When I was young, my mother thought I was ill.

All the time.

She took me to a doctor.

Small town quack.

Drug addict.

Sex fiend.

He filled me with drugs, which my mother paid for with sex and food stamps. And she kept coming back.

You are sick.

Am I?

You are sick.

I don't think so.

You are sick.

Am I?

Yes.

Okay.

More drugs.

More.

More.

And soon, my head swelled to three times its normal size. So many pills and capsules and liquids.

I mutated, transformed.

Are you sick?

I am now.

My neck wobbles. My ears ooze. My eyes bulge, roll in their sockets. People stare and point and laugh.

I am gross, people say.

You are gross.

No one will love you.

Medicinehead.

No one will love you, Medicinehead.

You are sick.

Am I?

Yes.

You are gross.

Am I?

Yes.

They tell me these things.

So it is true.

I am sick. I am gross. I am Medicinehead. I am Miranda's slave. I will pay off those debts or die trying.

My eyes snap open.

"See the straw?" I ask the little girl.

"Yes," she tells me.

"Take a drink," I tell her.

She walks over to my ear, pulls out a very long tube, and begins to suck. I can feel my head dry out.

My eyes stick to my eyelids.

Lips crack.

Tongue goes puffy.

She sucks and sucks, taking it in. My large head wobbles on my weak neck. I feel like I'm going to pass out.

"Stop, now," I tell her.

She doesn't.

"Stop, please," I beg.

She doesn't.

"Make her stop!" I tell the mom. "Please!"

She doesn't.

"Make her stop!" I scream. "I'll die!"

Eugene storms into the room. He grabs the little girl. I fall off the stool and curl into a fetal position.

"What did we tell you?" Eugene snaps.

"I don't know..." the mother says, trailing off.

"Goddamn it," Eugene grumbles.

"Is he dead?" the little girl asks.

"I am alive," I tell her.

She kneels down in front of me.

And smiles.

"Thank you," she tells me.

Her face, full of color.

The cough, gone.

My heart warms.

That's the first time anyone has thanked me.

I am a slave.

Why thank the slave?

I am a product.

Why thank the product?

Eugene escorts the mother and daughter out of the room. Miranda comes in and helps me onto the stool.

Gives me an orange drink.

Drugs.

More drugs.

Am I sick?

No.

You are paying off a debt.

"Drink up," she tells me. "You're on again in fifteen."

I drink the orange punch.

My head feels more normal.

"Rest up quickly," Miranda says. "That debt is close to being paid off, huh? Then you can go home again."

I think about that.

"Can I stay?" I ask.

"Stay?" she laughs. "You mean, stay here?"

"Yes."

"And do what?"

"Help. Heal."

"Who?"

I motion to the door.

"Everyone."

She gives me an odd look.

"I'll discuss it with Eugene," she says.

With that, she leaves the room.

Wooden walls, concrete floor.

Worn mattress.

I sit on the uncomfortable stool.

I am a slave.

I am salvation.

I am a healer.

Am I sick?

I don't know.

Am I gross?

Yes.

Will anyone love me?

Maybe.

Maybe.

In the future.

For now, I don't know.

I am a slave.

I am here.

Paying the debts.

I am a slave.

I am a healer.

I am me.

I am Medicinehead.
Share:

What If I Have Nothing To Say?


Oh, hey there. As always, you've shown up at just the right moment. Earlier today, I decided to address my inability to properly "say" something with my work. A lot of writers claim that their stories have hidden meaning and subtext, or serve as some kind of far-reaching metaphor. But what if your story about a vengeful scientist in the year 2144 is just about a vengeful scientist in the year 2144? Should I stop writing this story because it doesn't fulfill some grand design? If I'm not commenting on the state of the scientific community in the future, does my story really matter?

I often think about things of this nature.

When I published my first book Found years ago, people said, "I love your commentary on racism on bullying." I felt like I had something to say about important topics. But after M'rth, my second novella, which addressed my own insecurities in the face of potential fame following the big-screen adaptation of Found, I realized something shocking: I had absolutely nothing to say. Sure, ideas retained their constant ebb and flow through the murky rivers of my mind, but none of them seemed very important. Where were the deep, dark, dramatic stories I wanted to tell? In their place, I'd developed tales about talking toilets, people who discover alternate dimensions after ejaculating during defecation, and various other hideous topics. What the hell has happened to me? Have I peaked? Should I just hang it up/

My next book, Every Year on His Birthday, resides in limbo after pitching the idea to a well-known filmmaker. Who knows when or if I'll get around to finishing that one (story of my life). So now I'll turn my attention to Shinya Sherman and his quest for vengeance in the year 2144. If the story doesn't contain anything more than what's on the surface -- blood, carnage, and robots powered by action movie DVDs -- have a lost my touch? Should an author touch on deeper themes when they sit down to pen a story? For the sake of the all the tales living inside my skull, let's hope not.

Who knows what people will think of Cinematic Scientific Revenge Cyborg of Wayside City when I finally get around to finishing this goddamn thing. I apologize in advance, and I'll keep you posted.

Share:

Hey! It's My First Post! So, Enjoy Some Kung Fu!


I should probably use my first post to tell you my life story and pimp the books I've published, but fuck that. If you actually found ToddRigney.com, then you know who I am. And there are links at the top where you can find my bio and my books. So, yeah. Enough of that shit. Oh, and the featured image is from Raw Force, not the movie I'm getting ready to present.

When it comes to movies, I love two things: cheese and violence. And if you can somehow blend these elements into one 90-minute cinematic spectacle, then I'm gonna be a very happy individual. That's why I spend a lot of time watching kung fu movies - the older and cheesier, the better. Thankfully, we live in a world where it's incredibly easy to find these lost gems, which means I spend a lot of time on YouTube watching forgotten kung fu movies from decades ago.

Like an old man. Yeah, I said it. Like an old fucking man.

Whoever runs the Wu Tang Collection on YouTube is a goddamn genius. And a saint. And a helluva swell individual. There are hundreds of Chinese action/kung fu movies on this channel, and they're all free. Sure, the quality isn't the greatest, the subtitles are often cut off due to the movie's hideous full-frame presentation, and the English dubbing is frequently beyond, but that's just part of the charm. Plus, you take what you can get. I've watched more than a few movies on this channel, and I plan to create a section on this site dedicated to the flicks I've consumed. Whether you choose to indulge in these gifts is up to you.

The first movie you should check out is Twins of Kung Fu. The story is garbage and the quality might make those who love 4K have low-resolution nightmares for weeks, but it's a terribly fun flick that doesn't skimp on the bad dubbing or kung fu insanity. I'm not going to spend any time reviewing the flick (what's the point?), so just sit back and dive into Twins of Kung Fu.

Share: