I’m not a big anime fan. I don’t know why, because I used to love them when I was a kid. However, the movie we’re going to talk about today doesn’t look or feel like your usual anime movie. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a visually striking vampire movie for adults like no other. Never before or since have I seen such a blend of different motives and genres. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic futuristic world full of strange creatures and technology. You have spaceships but our main character, Vampire Hunter D actually rides a horse.
A horse that seems to have some cyberpunk additions just like a couple of characters we’re going to be meeting. And the world is just as strange featuring huge Gothic cathedrals and small western towns. This mishmash of different themes works surprisingly well. You can feel that they were drawing inspiration from different sources and trying to meld it into their main story. I remember watching this movie in the early 2000s and totally loving it. Not only the main story was interesting but there was a lot of action. Action that was quite brutal and bloody with severed heads and other fun stuff.
I had no idea that Bloodlust is actually a sequel to the 1985 anime movie Vampire Hunter D. First of all, you don’t need to know anything about it to enjoy Bloodlust. Secondly, I did check it out and I did not like it. I mean, it’s a bit too outdated and weird for my taste. It opens with a sexy girl in a miniskirt killing some kind of dinosaur before telling our hero he can use her sexually. On top of that, the animation style isn’t too good and looks really padded. If you’re looking for something brutal and sexualized you would be better off watching the 1995 masterpiece that is Ghost in the Shell.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow! For thousands of years, vampires and humans have lived in peace but now things are very different. Bounty hunters track and kill what little of the vampire population remains. And one of the best of them is D, a half-vampire, half-human creature, a Dhampir (Dunpeal). After Baron Meier Link kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy guy, he hires both D and another group of bounty hunters, the infamous Marcus Brothers, to track him down. Their mission will be dangerous and deadly for some as they will be traversing the wild land full of monsters.
Right from that highly atmospheric opening scene showing a full moon and then a graveyard, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust grabs your attention. It easily transitions from this Gothic aesthetic to a classical Western setting and then it morphs into a zombie movie. I still cannot believe that they managed to get away with so many different themes, settings, and characters. On top of all of this, we have the script emulating American action B movies.
And our main hero D has in his hands, well, I better not go into details because I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s better you see for yourself what’s going on here.The film is actually based on the third novel of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D series, Demon Deathchase. This perhaps explains why all these elements work together so well. Somebody spent a lot of time carefully melding them together into one potent mix.
Just when you think you got this movie figured out giant flying Sandmantas will appear out of nowhere. The story will take us to some truly strange places like the Barbarois, a strange community of monsters living on the edge of the desert. You’ve got werewolves, shapeshifters, and other fun creatures all trying to mess with D. But D is going to give them his big D, and by that I mean the huge sword he carries on his back.
However, I think the strangest one of them all was an old man riding a unicycle who’s supposed to be the leader of these people. Even if we disregard the story and the characters, we’re still left with a stunningly beautiful animation style. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a true work of art. Only when you pause the movie you can see just how much effort went into bringing these scenes to life.
For example, during the final fight in this huge Gothic castle, the level of detail is astonishing. One pillar next to the stairs consists of dozens of figures and yet I noticed this only when I was looking for good screenshots. There were so many scenes and characters that I spent a couple of hours just thinking about what scenes should I include in this post.
I actually decided to include one more image than I usually do. At certain moments, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust reminded me of the animated eighties classic Heavy Metal. Only more unhinged and a lot less sexualized. Although we will meet Countess Carmilla AKA Elizabeth Bathory enjoying a nice bath in virgin blood.
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Writers: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Ellen Moore
Cast: Andrew Philpot, John Rafter Lee, Pamela Adlon, Wendee Lee, Michael McShane, Matt McKenzie
Fun Facts: The reason why the movie calls D, a half-human, half-vampire creature a Dunpeal is because they mistranslated the original term Dhampir.