Blood for Dracula

Starring: Joe Dallesandro and Udo Kier
Tartan DVD USA
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 22 May 2006

The undead Dracula is dying. It seems that he needs the blood of virgins to exist, and there are no more left in Romania (eh?). Feeling extremely weak, all he wants to do is be taken to the family vault with his sister and be laid to rest. However, his aid proposes a trip to Italy, whose people are said to be very religious ... and pure. Arriving at a small town, he announces in the local tavern that he is searching for a wife. Someone suggests a family with four daughters. The parents are seduced by the Count's title and money and, when they notice he is very ill, offer Dracula the choice. All four daughters claim to be virgins, but the middle two are having regular sexual relations with the groundsman. Can the family and the groundsman learn the truth about Dracula before he finds the pure daughter and regains his strength...?

Hmm. I suppose the fact that the film title is being marketed as Andy Warhol presents Blood for Dracula should have been fair warning that this would be an attempt at some sort of art statement. The difference is that this version of the Dracula myth, written and directed by Paul Morrissey, is a million miles apart from the classic Universal Bela Lugosi or Hammer Christopher Lee portrayals. Vdo Kier (a German living in America who acts out a Romanian in Italy) plays a Count who has no super-strength or hypnotic powers; in fact, he is sick and weak as a kitten for the majority of the movie. He is not burned by sunlight or crucifixes, but has a slight aversion to them, and we see him at the opening of the film reddening his lips and blackening his hair with make-up, as if this is how others think he should look.

If all of this is supposed to present the character as vulnerable and so induce the viewer's sympathy, let me tell you it fails. The evil creature of the night simply comes across as a damp squib. We are only reminded occasionally that this is a vampire film. When he bites the necks of the sisters, believing they are virgins, he spends longer throwing-up the blood in the bathroom than he does drinking it in the first place. More time is spent concentrating on the relationship between one of the sisters and the groundsman, so that you get the impression you're watching Lady Chatterley's Lover instead. Periodic bad dialogue and exaggerated expressions, particularly from Dracula, make you wonder if this production is simply thinly disguised as Confessions of a Vampire.

Extras include a commentary by Paul Morrisey and Vdo Kier; production stills with commentary; and screen tests.

Ty Power

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