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For all its vampire feuds and dodgily S&M-flavoured blood-drinking scenes, this is somewhat staid and solemn, with few locations and a low budget abstraction reminiscent of those old episodes of The Avengers where they could only afford to build a corner of a set and there wasn't any money left to hire actors. While Sands, with aptly vampirish poise, and Cranham, with a sinister Southern accent, are interesting and poised antagonists, making the most of Sato's allusive dialogue, heroine Hamilton lets the side down with an awkward performance that hardly suggests anyone worth giving up immortality for. Cranham's character is supposed to be Poe himself, oddly transformed from his historical stature: he seems to have put on a bit of weight since his death in 1849, but Cranham's sly nasty way of ordering gruesome nouvelle cuisine and tormenting a harmless crackpot is aptly Poeish. The slow-paced film takes a long time to confirm what is obvious from the outset (even from the title) and then shudders to a halt with all the characters' fates left vague. However, it has a unique and disturbing atmosphere--the few familiar vampire images of a bloody Sands are outweighed by weirder moments like Cranham's presentation of a pale Hamilton, tied to a bed with red ribbons, as an offering to his nemesis--that makes it more insidiously memorable than many of its higher-budgeted, splashier cousins.
On the DVD: A no-frills (no trailer, no cast notes, no nothing), full-screen presentation, which sometimes cramps Sato's careful compositions, this also has a mixed blessing transfer which lends a mouldy or rusty fuzz to some of the blacks in the many night scenes. There is, however, a nice animated menu. --Kim Newman