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  Blood for Dracula Bloody Nuisance
Year: 1974
Director: Paul Morrissey
Stars: Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier, Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry, Arno Juerging, Milena Vukotic, Dominique Darel, Stefania Casini, Silvia Dionisio, Inna Alexeievna, Gil Cagne, Emi Califri, Eleonora Zani, Roman Polanski
Genre: Horror, Comedy, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Count Dracula (Udo Kier) has hit a problem patch in his existence where his Romanian homeland is not providing for him as it used to, he simply cannot get the blood he is after from the locals around his castle. He complains to his "secretary" Anton (Arno Juerging) but the servant has a plan, and if all goes well Dracula will have all the virgin blood he needs. What they have to do is travel to Italy where there are plenty of noble families who are religious, hence any eligible daughters will not have lost their maidenhead and the vampire should in theory have every opportunity to feed on them with no ill effects. He is in a bad state as his life force is ebbing away, so after bidding farewell to his sister, he and Anton load the coffin on the car and set off...

Not content with recreating the Mary Shelley tale of Frankenstein, director Paul Morrissey and many of the same team put their own spin on Bram Stoker's most celebrated bloodsucker of all time, and the results divided audiences between those who did not latch on to its essential absurdity (it's difficult to perceive how much was aiming for camp) and those who appreciated it for its subversive take on the vampire legend. There were a few who took it seriously, but many more fans who saw it as a bit of a giggle with its abrasive posturing and seeming parody of the elements which many a horror flick (most notable the Hammer horror works) would see fit to include.

Although not as gory as Flesh for Frankenstein, at least until the blood drenched finale at any rate, this Dracula contained much the same sensibility, that slightly smirking, "We're getting away with something really rude here!" demeanour that nevertheless was played with a straight face, not bad when Morrissey was directing his cast, not all of them with English as a first language, to improvise their dialogue. If Frankenstein had not made Udo Kier a cult legend, his Dracula assuredly would have, the most sickly vampire ever seen; he might have been suave if he had the blood of the "weergins" (as he insists on pronouncing it), but whenever we see him the Count is about as pathetic a villain as the screen has ever witnessed, whining about having to sustain himself with vegetarian meals and pushed around in a wheelchair.

Not that you must be pathetic if you're a vegetarian or you're in a wheelchair, but here they're accoutrements to Kier's committed performance of enervated whinging, so by the time he ends up at the rundown Italian mansion with four daughters to pick from he's almost fading away before our very eyes. The father (erstwhile Italian neo-realist director Vittorio De Sica) is keen to marry one of his offspring off to this supposedly sophisticated and wealthy foreigner, not knowing it's the red stuff he's after, but there's a snag for Drac: when he tries biting the neck of one of the ladies he finds they are nowhere near as pure as they claimed, which sends him into convulsions and vomiting up the blood which leaves him more sickly than ever. And the reason for this?

Step forward Andy Warhol acolyte Joe Dallesandro, here because this was, like the previous effort, a Warhol production so he was expected to be there as the biggest star of the Factory. Obviously he got naked as he had sex with the daughters, by this point it was nothing short of compulsory in his screen outings, but he was called upon to do a spot of acting as well, playing the Brooklyn-accented (because he couldn't manage an Italian accent) Mario, who has a line in Communist theory which he believes entitles him to shag is way through the household he is handyman to. Although it's often ignored, there was a degree of revolutionary politics in this variation on Dracula as Morrissey used the set up of the debauched aristocrat exploiting the workers as an obvious in hindsight allegory for the way the vampire was as much sucking the living dry as the bosses sucked the proletariat dry, though don't look too closely for it's the nobleman's family he's feeding on here. Take that or leave it, this was a deeply eccentric view that managed to wring originality out of hackneyed myth. Music by Claudio Gizzi (nice).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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