Blood for Dracula

Dir: Paul Morrissey, 1974. Starring: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry, Arno Juerging, Cult.
Blood for Dracula

When I caught wind that Andy Warhol produced trashy cult films in the '70s, I rushed to find everything available. Trash, Heat, and Flesh were introduced to me first, and all of these are directed by Paul Morrissey. What's also funny about this movie and all of the Morrissey/Warhol collaborations is that they star one of Warhol's troubled muses from his photography career, Joe Dallesandro. There is also a rumored cameo from Roman Polanski, but I've been too in awe of the cheesy story to keep an eye out for him. Blood for Dracula is perhaps one of the cooler variations of Bram Stoker's Dracula tale. This is due, in part, to Udo Kier's sickly performance as the famed blood-sucker. In short, it is a version that presents the villain in a pathetic light, which ultimately turns the entire move into a satirical mess. Count Dracula and his dying sister are in a bit of a bind. Both are extremely ill and fear that the next slumber they have in their tombs will be their last. Unlike most other Dracula tales, these two require a special kind of blood to feast on: the blood of a virgin. Just when their future looks bleak due to all the promiscuous girls in town, the Count's servant convinces him to have a vacation in a city with more religious convictions. They decide on Italy, and upon arrival, hear of a family with four marriageable daughters who are interested in suitors.

Before they arrive, the parents (Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry) of the four girls decide to coach their daughters and emphasize the importance of the Count's inquiry and his request for a virgin bride. Little do they know that two of their daughters have frequent rendezvous with their manservant, Mario (Joe Dallesandro). Once the Count arrives, he goes through some trouble explaining the coffin he has brought with him and is escorted around the grounds in a wheelchair because he's so weak. He also goes through many comical efforts to remind his hosts that he has a special diet. One of the funniest and most pitiful scenes is when he is desperately in need of nourishment and his servant returns with bread soaked in a girl's blood. It has this odd and somewhat intentional resemblance to a drug addict blissfully indulging in his latest "hit." When the need for blood becomes unbearable, he moves in for the kill and begins visiting the two daughters who are the most attractive. It just so happens that these two are the ones who are involved with Mario and their blood makes him sicker than he was before. Everything boils down to the other two daughters. He creates a bond with the eldest, and she is the one who is honest about her past suitors, thus ultimately of no use to him. The only one left is the youngest, who the parents claim is too young to marry, and is also a prude. But before he can get to her, Mario beings to snoop around and notices that his two lovers' behavior has grown more than mysterious since Dracula's arrival.

The idea of having a thick-headed brute as the hero seems to come right out of some ridiculous romance novel, but it has its own special appeal in the cult world. I must admit that this film was not as rewarding plot-wise as Flesh for Frankenstein, but it does unfold like a black comedy, and can therefore be judged likewise. As stated earlier, I like the idea of Dracula being a more outcast, pitiful figure. Whether it is comedies or foreign depictions of him, he always seems to have an appalling amount of sex appeal and confidence. Seeing him in this light made you hope for the downfall of all the other characters, especially when they come off as mean-spirited socialites. This variation of Dracula was also satisfying because it was sort of slow and focused on the landscapes and details of the time in which the story takes place. On that level, I'd say it was up to par with Werner Herzog's Nosferatu, and just as naturally funny. I recommend this movie to horror buffs more than cult ones, especially if you've got a thing for vampire tales.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Dec 27, 2010 5:18pm
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