2017 / Soichi Umezawa / Tubi / NR
Usually when people use the term "kill your darlings" they're referring to the creation, not the creator.
Breaking Down Vampire Clay
A group of pottery students studying at Aina Academy find themselves in a battle for their lives after a student discovers a strange bag of clay. Kaori has just moved back from the big city of Tokyo to study in a smaller academy. It's quite obvious that her colleagues find her to be a threat due to her experience outside of their town/village. Despite that Kaori works hard to fit in, but after uncovering the bag of clay and using it in her latest assignment, fitting in becomes even more difficult for Kaori as her colleague's projects end up ruined. Soon enough the clay shows its true form and brings the academy's history to the forefront.
The Team Behind Vampire Clay
Director Soichi Umezawa goes on to direct the sequel to Vampire Clay. Soichi's directing isn't terrible like I've watched the worst films in general, but what he's purely great at is the special effects and make-up, which he's responsible for in the film. Asuka Kurosawa plays in the Shudder original Psycho Goreman, as the Witchmaster. Kanji Tsuda was actually in 2002's Ju-on: The Grudge, he played Katsuya Tokunaga. Most of the other characters are played by actors who would be recognized by those who watch more Japanese cinema than myself. This is Yuyu Makihara's only credit on IMDB.
Jake's Take on Vampire Clay
Vampire Clay is terribly great in its execution, writing, and story. This Japanese-made film puts the practical effects front and center, which is most definitely its strong suit. This is especially true during the back half of the film, where there's a scene done with stop-motion animation, ugh. We had a hoot as the clay came to life and tried to devour the hand of the protagonist's bully. As the film carried on the excitement and effects ramped up, and the story surprisingly came together. There's lore to Vampire Clay that makes sense and is intriguing. This film takes itself seriously, and I love it for that, but the acting sells it short. There's no really good explanation as to why these students don't leave the academy as they begin to go missing one by one, but I'm willing to look past that as long as they keep these practical effects coming. The characters do have arcs as well, which makes for great storytelling. The artist gets his revenge, the greedy man gets what's coming to him, and the student and teacher survive another day to pour their trauma into their pottery. Vampire Clay is a perfect film for a few friends after a few beers. I would match this up with something like Slaxx. This double feature offers rowdy American horror and the quieter but just as ridiculous Japanese horror. This pairing would make for interesting conversations.