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Tale of a Vampire [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Julian Sands, Suzanna Hamilton, Kenneth Cranham, Marian Diamond, Michael Kenton
  • Directors: Shimako Sato
  • Writers: Shimako Sato, Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Corbett
  • Producers: Noriko Shishikura, Simon Johnson, Stephen Margolis
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Metrodome
  • DVD Release Date: 23 April 2001
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000058CBX
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,982 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Alex (Julian Sands) is a young vampire condemned to roam the streets of London, eternally seeking his lost love. Forced to satiate his lust for blood, Alex finds himself becoming obsessed with a mortal woman called Anna (Suzanna Hamilton), but at the same time is perturbed by the constant presence of the sinister Edgar (Kenneth Cranham).


A cross-cultural oddity, Tale of a Vampire feels like a 1970s British horror movie retranslated from the Japanese and mounted as a vehicle for Julian Sands. Director-writer Shimako Sato takes a gloom-haunted approach to the undead, allegedly influenced by the necrophile romanticism of Edgar Allan Poe (it claims to be based on Poe's poem "Annabel Lee") but also draws on the popular blood-sucking posiness of Anne Rice's bestselling novels. Alex (Sands), is a style-conscious vampire whose white shirts are always immaculate although he spends most of his nights messily pouring gore over his face. Living in a spartan docklands pad, Alex haunts a library of long-forgotten lore where he sets his cap at a young woman (Suzanna Hamilton) who may be the reincarnation of his lost love. Unfortunately, a hat-wearing rival vampire (Kenneth Cranham) has been nurturing a grudge against Alex for lifetimes and sticks his oar in, complicating the relationship between vampire and willing victim, setting up for a big stake-shoving climax.

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE on 20 July 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Tale of a Vampire" largely seems to get ignored when anyone's analysing the vampire movie canon, and this may be because it's low-budget, and it's dark, sombre London settings get squashed out by the big, colourful, flashy Hollywood efforts. It has plenty of flaws. The story for one doesn't bear much analysis. Edgar Allen Poe (played by the ever-reliable Kenneth Cranham) was turned into a vampire by his young bride, Virginia, and has spent the many years ever since looking for the vampire, Alex d'Hiver, who had vampirised her (try and keep up!). He winds up in 1990s London, and finds that Alex is now spending a lot of his time in a public library specialising in occult books, and not only that, but the new librarian (a rather uptight and vapid Suzanna Hamilton) bears a startling resemblance to Virginia.
As I said, the storyline is utter tosh, but what the film lacks in that it makes up for with oodles of atmosphere. A lot of the film seemed to be shot after dark in Deptford, and its bleak, docklands settings are matched by Julian Joseph's wonderfully evocative score. The very handsome Julian Sands makes a highly charismatic vampire, keeping his cool even when he seems to spend a lot of the film being drenched in red paint! This isn't by any means the best vampire flick you'll ever see, but it is memorable and bears several viewings.
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By JACK E SHELLEY JR on 30 Sept. 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
great movie
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 April 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw the movie last motnh and the movie ist great! Particular Julian sands plays the Vampire Alex excellent! however the ohter Actors are great!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 70 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Somewhat Bloody, Mostly Moody 24 Aug. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
Set in contemporary London, England, "Tale of a Vampire" follows Ann (Suzanna Hamilton) and Alex (Julian Sands), two heartbroken strangers whose paths cross inside a large, archaic library where she works and he frequents. For Alex, Ann is the spitting image of his missing lover, Virginia (also played by Ms. Hamilton), who he had made into a vampire more than a century ago, but she has since vanished. To this day, he still misses her immensely and flashes back on her in a few scenes. As for Ann, she finds herself irrepressibly drawn towards Alex, despite the ominous warnings of a stranger, Edgar (Kenneth Cranham), who follows both Ann and Alex around with shady motives. It's not until the very end of the movie that his well-kept secret is revealed.
I thought "Tale of a Vampire" was really quite good (particularly the ending), even though I had relied on only a handful of reviews to convince me to buy the movie first before renting it, which, in most cases, leaves me quite disappointed when I do do that. But in this case, I was pleasantly surprised. There is plenty of violence and bloodletting in this movie to satiate any vampire hound, though no fangs are used. It may be a little too melancholy and subdued for more diehard blood-gore-and-sex viewers, but I would still highly recommend it to fans of tragic love stories. 4 ½ stars.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
all in all i was quite impressed with this film 12 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
Although the movie had some akward moments when the lines just didn't feel quite right, it did have something that most vampire flicks just don't have. It didn't feel like one big sex and gore fest. Whether entirely successful or not it did feel as though the movie was trying to say something and not just fill a theater. One thing i judge movies by is if they leave me thinking, this movie has remained rolling around my mind for several days now. All in all i would definitly recommend this if you are in the mood for a different sort of vampire movie.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Refreshingly different vampyre fare 14 Dec. 2001
By James Day - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
Firstly, I am a great fan of Julian Sands, so it was only a matter of time before I discovered this wonderful film. 'Tale of a Vampire' avoids the usual blood-'n'-guts stuff, instead we get a beautifully filmed Gothic romance, without fangs (yes, NO fangs!), or contact lenses. Naturally there is a fair amount of blood, but then what do you expect? Cranham's performance is equally brooding and dark, as the sinister Edgar, who's hunting Alex (Sands). However, the film gets a bit slow at times and it seems we are forever in the Library set of the film. Moody, gorgeous and with stygian quality, 'Tale of a Vampire' shouldn't be overlooked. The acting is well done and it's nice to see that the vampire isn't ALWAYS the monster of the story.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Brooding, Slow Paced, Film 1 Aug. 2002
By Antoinette Avalon - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
This is one vampire film you may have trouble getting interested in unless you are a huge fan of slow paced, brooding, gothic fare. The premise is not incredibly new. An ancient vampire finds a lookalike of his long lost love and proceeds to pursue her. Through twists and turns that seem to plod on forever we eventually come to the inevitable conclusion of the movie . . . and how many "happily ever afters" have there been in vampire films? Not your usual fare and incredibly slow paced, the film is interesting but you probably could only sit through it once . . . with the benefit of the fast forward button if you're an impatient viewer.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Vampire tale of obsession and revenge with a Zen atmosphere? 13 Mar. 2003
By The Sentinel - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
If Yasujiro Ozu (or perhaps Joseph Losey) had ventured to make a Gothic horror romance, he might have come up with something like "Tale of a Vampire." By ordinary entertainment standards, this movie is soooo slow and ponderous and under-dramatized that it feels like a half-hour television play padded out to feature length. But in spite of its often leaden and mawkish dialogue, hamfisted acting, corny genre trappings, and congealed-syrup pacing, there are a few nice things to recommend about this production. For starters, there are all those cold, clean minimalistic sets and artfully prepared Gothic interiors. And one could almost mistake the shots of warmly filtered amber light with frames from "The Double Life of Veronique."
This tale is set in a fictionalized version of London as a depopulated ghost town undergoing what appears to be some kind of total eclipse or nuclear winter. Probably owing to an inability to secure the proper shooting permits, there are only a few stock images of the Thames and Big Ben in long shot that establish any real sense of locale. Indeed, most of the production expense seems to have gone into renting the camera equipment, hiring out the services of the crew and processing lab, designing the interiors, and of course, paying the salaries of the three lead actors. Save for an old librarian, a dying old man, some offscreen voices, and a few homeless people, there is virtually no supporting cast to speak of.
The plot concerns Ann (Suzanna Hamilton), a young woman mourning the tragic death of her fiancé in a mysterious car explosion (this aspect of the story, and the elliptical dialogue which follows, seems curiously reminiscent of a Harold Pinter play). As fate would have it, Ann lands a job at a library specializing in arcane research and the occult. There she catches the eye of Alex (Julian Sands), a brooding and melancholy young scholar. It turns out that Ann bears an uncanny resemblance to Alex's long lost love, Virginia (also played by Hamilton who wears a wig in the flashback sequences). Soon after, Ann also crosses paths with Edgar (Kenneth Cranham), a pushy and obnoxious library patron who is not what he seems (actually his character is quite obvious from the outset, we're just not supposed to know about it, I guess). get the picture?
No doubt Julian Sands was hired for his impressive Aryan-Byronic appearance and precise, martini-dry diction (he looks set to be remembered as the ersatz-Christopher Lee of his generation). But the script undermines his seductive Old World manner with its overemphasis on Alex's all-too-contemporary geeky obsessiveness and chronic adolescent depression (more than 100 years of it!).
Likewise, Suzanna Hamilton's Ann is a self-defeating Victorian stereotype: the sweet and passively winsome young innocent oblivious to her distress. The script makes too much of the fact that Ann is a helpless sweetheart and shrinking violet; and thirty-something Suzanna Hamilton seems too old to still be playing such chirpy, wide-eyed schoolgirl naivete. If anything, Ann just comes across as an implausibly dimwitted pushover who is manipulated with no great difficulty and predictably blunders into disaster. Fortunately, we are granted the pleasure of seeing Miss Hamilton do a Suzanna Hamilton specialty: the Sleeping Beauty. Indeed, I can think of no other actress who slumbers before the camera with such timeless grace and affect!
As the menacing imposter, Edgar, Kenneth Cranham easily delivers the worst performance. Had the film simply been about the blossoming romance between Ann and Alex (who happens to be a vampire), this might have been quite a charming and clever little picture. But alas, we are forced to endure the sustained annoyance of Cranham as he chews and spits scenery like tobacco and spouts atrocious, hackneyed, overwrought horror-movie dialogue meant to advance and explain the plot in the most clumsy and awkward way.
It doesn't help that Cranham is a terribly, terribly unattractive actor and he delivers an overaggressive and embarrassingly obvious performance. There is no elegance or seduction in his evil, and no grandeur in his lust for revenge either. He looks a bit like Vincent Price in "Witchfinder General," but the resemblance only makes you wish that Price was alive and fifty again to do justice to this kind of role.

Saving the worst for last, the ending of the film is flaccidly anticlimactic. In a sequence which seems to last forever, Ann's curiosity about Alex's vampirism is roused and she eventually tracks him to his lair, Nancy Drew-style, and confronts him. I won't give anything else away.... Suffice to say, it is at this point that the movie really falls apart and any developing interest in the characters (and the story) collapses with a resounding thud.
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