After being asked by the supercool Lydia Mitchell (check out her blog here) if I would write a piece on Russ Meyer’s UP! (found here), she has returned with a piece for this rambling blog. She’s enthusiastically written a great piece about the classically camp, Blood For Dracula (a personal favorite of mine). Keep your eyes peeled for her piece on Flesh For Frankenstein soon.
A greying man, extremely pale with piercing eyes, sits in front of a mirror applying make-up to add colour to his face. Theatrically dark eyebrows appear, rouge is dabbed on to bring out his lips and cheekbones and finally colouring powder combed through his hair turning it black. Except that this isn’t a man, for he has no reflection and a set of fangs. It’s Dracula (Udo Kier), and he’s sick. With a reputation in Romania, no family will give him their daughters and Dracula has only weeks to live. He needs virgin blood and fast. With his sister already on her death bed (for the second time, one would assume) Dracula’s servant Anton (Arno Juerging) makes the decision that him and the Count will leave for Italy in the search of fresh virgin blood…
Once there they befriend a large Italian family, the di Fiori’s, with four young daughters who are potentially suitable for Dracula to drain. Under the guise of Dracula moving to Italy to find a virgin wife, the two move into the di Fiori’s house as guests and slowly begin about making the daughters Drac’s next meal. Unfortunately for the Count, two of the daughters have been sleeping with the family estates handyman Mario (Joe Dallesandro) and so aren’t as pure as have been made out. Their tainted blood makes Dracula sick (in a sweet little effect that see’s his face light up green) but he still turns them into mental slaves causing tension between him and Mario, who appears to have a soft spot for both sisters. It’s only a matter of time before the Count’s secret is out…
Blood for Dracula is a great film, shot using the same team that worked on the feature Flesh for Frankenstein. Both films were produced by Andy Warhol and directed by Paul Morrissey who shot on location in Italy (the family estate in particular looks beautiful). Whilst a pretty solid take on the Dracula story, Warhol’s film has a camp undertone that makes parts of the film mildly funny to watch, the biggest culprit being the different accents that everyone seems to have.
Dracula and Anton in particular are great, the former pronouncing virgins ‘werjins’ and the latter with an occasionally over-active eyebrow. And of course, seeing Dracula travel with a coffin on top of his car so he has somewhere to sleep at night will raise a smile from a fair few of you.
Udo Kier is perfect in the lead role, his chiselled cheekbones and bright eyes only adding to the off-kilter European look that Dracula has. This is a film in which the Dracula role is reversed and it’s incredibly welcome. No longer strong but very weak, this is a Count that is reliant on his servant Anton in order to stay alive. Accent aside, Kier plays the role well, aged and sickly but incredibly desperate, with great over the top bouts of occasional regained powerful physicality.
The rest of the female cast are fantastic, each different in their own unique way making each daughter stand out in character, all naturally beautiful, especially youngest daughter Perla (Silvia Dionisio). Juerging is terrific as Anton, for once as servant of the Count’s that is deceptively clever and manipulative. Rounding the cast out is Warhol regular Dallesandro in the heroic role of the Marxist handyman and horror director Roman Polanski in a cameo.
Definitely a film to seek down if you haven’t seen it, Blood For Dracula is a great take on the Dracula myth with enough sleek production values to appeal to those who aren’t genre fans and those who love some trash film aesthetics. Where else can you see Udo Kier licking up the blood from a virgin’s hymen off a floor?!
Lydia will return with her views on Morrissey’s Flesh For Frankenstein!