JANUARY 14, 2010
Hey, filmmakers - stop doing the "Dracula" story. Don’t do it straight up, don’t contemporarize it, don’t put it in fucking space, and CERTAINLY don’t just rip it off, like Roberto Mauri did for Slaughter Of The Vampires (Italian: La Strage Dei Vampiri). At least if it has “Dracula” in the title I know what I’m in for, but here I sit down to watch what I think is a different take on the vampire story, and after a half hour, sure enough, the vampire has fallen in love with the new love of a well-to-do man, and he has to team up with a doctor to save her from the vampire’s spell. There’s no Renfield, but that’s about as close as they get to mixing things up once the story kicks into gear.
And it’s a shame, because it DOES start off differently, with the townsfolk chasing some vampires and taking them out, and then there’s a couple on their honeymoon, and a nice dance... it’s not the most thrilling movie ever, that’s for sure, but at least I didn’t think I had seen it 47 goddamn times already.
All that said, it’s not bad as these things go. It’s only 75 minutes long, so it’s not a heavy investment, and every 5 minutes or so, something peculiar or laughable occurs, providing the energy for me to get through the entire thing without feeling like I had entered a time warp. For example, the doctor examines a guy who had been attacked and straight up prescribes him a “nice glass of beer”. Thanks doc. And I also enjoyed the occasional laziness in the screenplay, such as when someone needs a blood transfusion and the doctor just tells a woman to “get blood from the townspeople”. Uh... don’t you need to know his blood type, at least, let alone theirs? Or is the entire town Type O? Or is the screenwriter assuming that the audience gets the jist and doesn’t need details, sort of like when a guy in a movie goes into a bar and just orders “a beer”?
The laziness applies to some of the filmmaking too. The girl gets bit on the neck and then two scenes later we can clearly see that there is no bite mark. And when the vampire dies (spoiler!) they do one of those “let’s just fade in and out to different stages of his decomposition” things, but they move the camera around so much in between shots (and change the position of the corpse) that it’s damn near impossible to tell what is going on. In fact, the only way I DID understand it is because I had seen it done in so many other movies. There you have it, a film where you need to see other movies to understand it, but will then be bored by it because all it’s doing is copying other movies.
I also noticed something that puzzled me a bit. Like a lot of old films, you can see the “cigarette burns” on this home video release, which means that when the film showed theatrically, that would be where the reels needed to be changed. But they come awfully rapidly in this film; I think I counted three in the first 20 minutes (which would normally be the amount of time for one). So I started suspecting that maybe I was watching an edited version, but I can find no evidence to support such a thing - by all accounts, the movie was always 75 minutes long. Weird.
I also got to thinking - why doesn’t Dracula or his simulacrums ever fall for poor women? It’s always some broad with ties to the local higher-ups, and she lives in a mansion and all that. I guess its so they can get that cool shot of the vamp entering her window - WHICH IS ON THE SECOND FLOOR!!! Scary!! But then, why not set it in a slum, like Cabrini Green or whatever. There we go - Dracula On Chicago Avenue. He could fall for a hooker and the gangs could get all noble and fight him off to save her. Of course, that would be yet another Dracula movie, so even if they made it I’d be pissed off at having to watch another goddamn Dracula movie, so don’t bother on my account.
Well, whatever, it’s mildly entertaining (and female lead Graziella Granata is quite sexy, for what it’s worth) but not very good, and the generic Drac riffs keep it from being worth anyone’s while, unless you are the world’s biggest "Dracula" fan and have a compulsive need to watch every single film that uses Stoker’s story as a guide. Then by all means, seek out Slaughter Of The Vampires!
What say you?