Udo Kier is without a doubt the sickliest of vampires in any director’s interpretation of the Bram Stoker tale. Count Dracula knows that if he fails to drink a required amount of pure virgin’s [pronounced “wirgin’s”] blood, it’s time to move into a permanent coffin. His assistant (Renfield?) suggests that the Count and he pick up his coffin and take a road trip to Italy, where families are known to be particularly religious, and therefore should be an excellent place to search for a virgin bride. They do, only to encounter a family with not one, but FOUR virgins, ready for marriage. The Count discovers one-by-one that the girls are not as pure as they say they are, meanwhile a handsome servant/Communist begins to observe strange behaviour from the girls who do spend the night with the Count. It’s a race for Dracula to discover who’s the real virgin, before he either dies from malnourishment or from the wooden stake of the Communist!
Jonathan Dakss <[email protected]>
User Reviews: In this retelling of the story of Dracula, the world’s most famous vampire (Udo Kier, in a breathtaking and charismatic role as the count) lives in rapid deterioration in Romania with his watcher, Anton. Dracula is nearing death due to the fact that he needs the blood of a virgin in order to survive as tainted blood makes him deeply ill. Dracula decides to travel to Italy after burying his sister because Anton tells him that there are many religious girls there who value their virginity and do not have sex until marriage. The plan makes sense, but problems arise when Dracula and Anton take shelter in the home of a religious family consisting of a greedy and thoughtless wife, a bitter husband, their four daughters, and their communist worker (played by the consistently memorable Joe Dallesandro). The plan is to pretend to be an aristocrat looking for a virgin bride, but issues arise when Dracula discovers that the daughters are not as innocent and as virginal as they are reputed to be, thanks to their worker, in this bizarre and extremely bloody vampire fable.
Excuse me for seeming rather melodramatic for saying this, but this has got to be one of the most depressing horror films I think I have ever seen. The idea of Dracula being a terrifying and intimidating demon of a human being is completely altered here. Dracula is no longer the great monster that legend states, but rather a frail and deteriorating creature who is weak and pitiful. Call me crazy, but to me this idea is truly heartbreaking. This is a very tragic, pessimistic, and cruel film, and watching it is like watching a weak old man slowly bleed to death in a creek after getting in a bicycle accident. It is basically the mental equivalent, and as a result I would highly suggest that folks who aren’t privy to films about tragedies better steer clear of this. For everyone else, however, who is a 70s grindhouse horror fan, fans of erotic horror cinema, and fans of Euro-trash, there is a lot here to recommend. For starters, Udo Kier as Dracula. Oh my god can this man tug at the heartstrings. His performance as Dracula is as pitiful, feeble, and tortured as you can ever imagine. Say what you will about his theatrical line delivery, but I found myself tearing up just looking at the guy. The opening scene in which we watch him cover his old frame with make-up is one of my favorite opening scenes in horror. It is sad, it is tranquil, and it is classy all at once. Udo Kier has such gentle and expressive eyes that help give the character a sense of lost humanity that I found incredibly poignant.
Arno Juerging as Anton is also astounding. He allows his character to be somewhat charming and timid while still allowing him to show a vicious tendency. He’s an unusually memorable aspect of the film that certainly helps to differentiate this picture from other films of it’s nature. Joe Dallesandro is a lot funnier and has a lot more fun with his role here than in the past, but above all he just looks great on camera regardless of the quality of film stock. He has such a wonderful presence here, and his character is a lot more interesting and clever than you would expect from this type of role. Above all, however, he’s a hero who you don’t feel entirely comfortable rooting for. He’s a main character whom the writer doesn’t mind showing you his sleazy side. He’s not an entirely likable protagonist, and I always appreciate when filmmakers have the balls to do that. It worked in 2009 with District 9, and it works just as brilliantly here. The musical score by Claudio Gizzi is one of the great haunting horror film scores of the 70s. This score, as well as his equally powerful score in Flesh For Frankenstein, are two of my favorite music scores of all time. It fits the sadness of the film like a glove.
This is one of my favorite vampire films and one of my favorite films of it’s kind. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, especially the easily offended, but it is a tremendous piece of horror filmmaking that I personally think deserves it’s place in film history. Best of all, it is a vampire film that, like the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In as well as the 1996 actioner From Dusk Till Dawn, follows all the basic rules in vampire lore. This film also includes a cameo by Roman Polanski, and to this day I think it’s one of the funniest and most intelligent cameo appearances of all time. What more can I really say? This is a cult classic of the highest caliber. It’s beautifully shot, it’s evenly paced, it’s gory as hell, it’s genuinely erotic, and it’s not afraid to break your heart. If you are a fan of cult horror and you haven’t seen this, you are seriously missing out.