Nakagawa is credited with having made the first Japanese film to feature blood sucking with The Vampire Moth (Kyuketsuki-ga, 1956) for Toho. Almost exactly three years and fifteen films (!) later, and now with Shintoho (formed by producers and talent who left the former studio), Nakagawa’s The Lady Vampire was Japan’s first film with a Lugosi/Lee-like sartorial sang slurper in a lead role. Based on a novel by Soto Tachibana, whose work was also adapted by the director into The Mansion of the Ghost Cat.
A woman named Miwako (Mihara) who’s been missing for twenty years suddenly turns up alive, and looking not a day older than when she vanished. When her confused daughter Itsuko (Ikeuchi) sees a painting at an exhibition of a woman identical to her unaged mother, her cub reporter boyfriend Tamio (Wada) helps her track down the owner – an odd man named Nobutaka (Amachi). Actually a vampire named Shiro Sofue, he sees Miwako as his eternal, long lost lover. Soon after, he kidnaps and whisks her away to Shimabara in western Japan.
The crisp black and white cinematography and intentionally non-Japanese settings (the hotel, the castle, even the streets chosen) give the film a low-budget European feel. For whatever reason, there’s much less experimentation than Nakagawa’s other horror films. The Lady Vampire could really do with a lady vampire (the “lady” refers to Miwako’s character, who does nothing but be in distress), which is probably why one of the export titles is The Vampire Man. Come to think of it, this vampire doesn’t have much of a drinking problem at all. —midnighteye
Nobuo Nakagawa (18 April 1905 — June 17, 1984) was a Japanese film director, most famous for the stylized, folk tale-influenced horror films he made in the 1950s and 1960s. Nakagawa began his film career as an apprentice to Masahiro Makino in 1934 and made his directorial debut with Itahachi Jima (1938). To Western audiences, his most famous film is Jigoku (1960), which he also co-wrote. The film was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection in 2006. His last film was 1982’s Kaiidan: Ikiteiru Koheiji. —Wikipedia