Higanjima: Escape from Vampire Island

By Dkun on November 08, 2011

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Escape from Vampire Island is the story of a young man named Akira Miyamoto; a high school student whose brother Atsushi went missing several years ago when he went with this girlfriend to visit her home island.

 

Akira meets a woman named Rei who tells him that she knows where his brother Atsushi is and that he is alive. Akira has his reservations though and doesn’t trust Rei.

Akira and his group of friends decide to follow after Rei and soon discover that she was with a man who is sucking the blood out of a woman who recently went missing. The man tries to kill them all before they manage to drive a forklift into the man and run away.

 

Rei tells everyone that these vampire monsters infested the entire island the same from, and that she was hoping that Akira would be able to help get rid of all of the vampires. Akira decides then that he needs to go to the island that his brother Atsushi disappeared on in order to save his brother and the inhabitants of the island.

 

Most of my experience with Japanese Live Action has been through tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider or Super Sentai. With that in mind, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with Escape from Vampire Island. With a name like that though, I assumed it would be a typical Japanese horror movie. I was only half-right on that account though.

 

The first half of Escape from Vampire Island feels like it’s a Japanese horror film, with the characters all being cornered by the vampire monsters and coming close to death. It’s the typical melodramatic jargon that so many J-Horror movies are stereotyped with. It’s fairly well done but it’s not very convincing either.

 

Once the second half of the film comes around, things do a complete 180 and then suddenly the movie becomes an action film. Akira and his friends (Although mostly Akira) suddenly figure out how to fight against the vampires that fill the island, and everyone starts kicking ass. It’s actually pretty fun to watch. All of the fights are pretty well choreographed and are easy to follow. Unfortunately a decent chunk of the movie takes place in the dark so it’s really hard to keep track of who’s trying to cut who sometimes.

 

This movie does suffer from a couple of weaknesses. The one that gets to me the most is the characters. Akira has his band of friends: the tough guy, the nerd, the wimp, the girl, and of course, the fat guy. The fat guy and the nerd barely do anything in this movie and just take up screen time. They really could have been entirely absent and the film would have been better off without them.

 

The other thing about this movie that annoys me is that this movie doesn’t really have a firm grasp of what vampires really are. Sure they have fangs and suck blood, but apparently they have no problem walking around in the daylight, and half of them just kind of drool on themselves while walking around as if they were zombies. Also some of them have wings for no real reason. It’s just mildly frustrating that this movie calls these creatures vampires, but then proceeds to break its own rules by making the vampires do things that they would not be characteristic of. Also, all generic vampires are required to wear straw hats apparently.

 

Although this movie does have its healthy fair share of faults, I still found the two hour duration of the movie pretty fun to watch. The climax of the movie is very entertaining, featuring Akira and a group of rebel vampire fighters fighting against a gargoyle (which looks like a cross between a triceratops and the alien from Alien), and the lead vampire who is a pale-skinned pretty boy with iron fans. There’s plenty of blood and explosions to make this film entertaining despite its many problems.


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