Director: Sôichi Umezawa.
Starring. Kyôka Takeda , Momoka Sugimoto , Ena Fujita , Kanji Tsuda. Japan. 1h 21m.
I used to be blown away by Japanese horror, going through the Tartan Horror series with much glee as it was miles apart from the slowdown that was occurring with its Western counterpart. with the fresh of breath air that the creepy tales sprung upon me, eventually I started noticing a huge split between genuine Japanese Horror and that fringe area which incorporated their unique humor, gore, body horror and sprays of blood. After a while I let things run their course, on returning I was gobsmacked by the array of mundane items which the Japanese has found a way to make scary!
Being fairly well versed with Yokai and the idea that any object can be haunted or possessed I found a new urge to really dig deep and explore all the “normal” everyday items which are not scary, from Hair Extensions to a Newspaper now we have Vampire Clay.
This short and depressing horror is set around an art teacher relocating to a new run down site, as always little is known about the previous occupant and she sets up her new studio and welcomes in some fresh students. Director , Sôichi Umezawa sets up little hints about her backstory, maybe to give an indication as to why she’s so high strung and unhinged but it’s never really made to flourish.
The drama is pretty average while the tutor batter’s down her students, telling them their work isn’t good enough until the class pet is eaten one night, then a lot more high strangeness takes over and escalated when a random visitor turns up after hours and runs away in fear when he realises they have dug up the earth/clay at the back of the school.
Drawing on the idea that anything and everything can be haunted there’s a dark secret that relating to the mystery man, the previous owner and a clay figure he made that now has a hunger for blood. None of this really comes as a shock, it seems the main concept of the film is to play with how fragile the students are and how easy some clay might be able to infect the human body. The film gets more ridiculous as the horror hypes up, at first I wasn’t sure if it was trying to be scary at all.
The first victim begins by having trouble then the ear of her clay head staying on, soon the mouth opens and is sucking on her hand, in desperation she kicks the clay figure away and tries to call for help but her hands are floppy and she can’t push the buttons, it looks like a wet muppet trying to text frazzled fingers, I assumed it was therefore a comedy but things get pretty serious after this but the effects are very “floppy” some scenes just can’t be anything other than laughable which makes the film very comfortable.
Despite the silliness it has a few shocking moments, nothing over the top (especially for a Japanese horror) but remains pretty mediocre. I had a lot of hope for the film, but I feel the eastern vampire influence is not something that gels with me, it’s usually pretty rococo and fancy or just not a hellish as anything conjured up with tentacles. But it works as a mild through provoking and at times highly emotional horror, but sadly the best doesn’t come until the very end and one of the more experimental and disturbing scenes is actually left for the end credits, where come real claymation finally happens along with a wider scope of the horrors that might come if there is ever a sequel, I would wager that with this distinct monster it could go far but it will need a huge injection of imagination.
R – Exte (2007), Wicked City (1987)
L -A-Z of Japanese Horror, My favourite 10 Vampire Films Vol 1. Yokai Movies