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Sunday, November 20, 2011

DVD Review: HIGANJIMA: ESCAPE FROM VAMPIRE ISLAND (2009)

 
HIGANJIMA:  ESCAPE FROM VAMPIRE ISLAND
Directed by:  Tae-gyun Kim
Distributed by:  FUNimation Entertainment

As I have stated before, I have never been a big fan of vampire movies.  I have always been more of a zombie type guy.  Well, I have seen some great vampire films lately (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, BLOOD), and I can now add FUNimation's latest live action film, HIGANJIMA: ESCAPE FROM VAMPIRE ISLAND, to my list of vampire movies I have thoroughly enjoyed.   I should have known when I saw FUNimation's name on the DVD case that I was in for a treat.  They are constantly putting out some of Japan's finest horror films!   Here is the basic plot of the film from the FUNimation website:

Akira and his ragtag group of teenage friends enter a world of danger and action when they land on the shores of Higanjima, an uncharted island that’s overrun by vampires.
After learning that his missing brother might be somewhere on the island, Akira leads his friends on a chilling adventure that takes them from Higanjima’s highest volcanic peaks into the subterranean chambers of the island’s ancient ruins. They’ll face entire villages of sword-wielding vampires while racing to stay a step ahead of winged she-beasts and giant gargoyles. Worst of all, the gang will encounter the deadly master of the island’s monsters: the pale, blood-sucking freakshow known as Miyabi. If the devilishly cruel Miyabi gets his way, none of the young heroes will live to see Akira’s brother – or the mainland – ever again.

This film is a must see for vampire fans.....no, not you "Twilight" vampire fans, I mean fans of REAL vampires!    Director Tae-gyun Kim does an excellent job with his first foray into the realm of horror films  (his previous films have all been dramas, romance films, an action, and even a comedy).  Kim seems right at home in the horror genre and I personally hope he will return to it sooner than later.

The cinematography of this film is amazing.  It is beautifully shot with some excellent scenery (some of which is obvious CG, but still impressive none the less).  The use of color always sticks out to me in films and this one is no different.   A blue tone seems to follow through the film, only to be starkly interrupted by the bright red of the blood that flows (or more, splatters) throughout the film.  

Yes, while most vampire movies really don't give you too much blood these days, HIGANJIMA gives enough for us gorehounds to be very happy.    As with most of the horror films from Japan, expect some great martial arts fight sequences as well.  These are well choreographed and pulled off extremely well by all the actors involved.   Speaking of the actors, the acting is this film is wonderful, not a bad one in the bunch that I can remember.   

My only complaint if I had to have one would be a running time.  At 122 minutes, I did feel the film drag just a bit at times, but it was nothing major and I was usually greeted with a great scene that was well worth the wait.  

Put this one your list if you are a fan of vampire films and/or martial arts films.  This one gives you the best of both worlds!

HIGANJIMA: ESCAPE FROM VAMPIRE ISLAND is out now on an awesome DVD / Blu-ray combo pack.  Special Features include a Making of Featurette and the original Japanese trailer. 



CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD / Blu-ray Combo Pack

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