Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dracula Week: The Dracula Saga

Spain has given us some great movies, great additions to the arts and, of course, Spanish Fly.  In fact, it was a great loss to the country when Paul Naschy died.  By the way, who was the idiot who talked about how he was still alive, not realizing that he had cancer at the time?  This guy!  Anyhow, this movie is a work that does not feature Naschy, but is by his mentor.  The man made many films starring Naschy, but how did he do without him?  This film's pretentious title is not as bad as it sounds, since it does seek to be the true definition of the character.  Does it succeed where others have failed?  Get out your vampire flashers for my review of...
The film begins with a young woman having dreams about a bat.  Oh my God, it's Bruce Wayne- but without a penis!  Actually, we don't get much explanation for these dreams, other than the fact that they make for good foreshadowing.  We pick up the plot properly with a couple going out to the countryside.  You see, the girl's family lives out in Romania, a country where apparently nobody but vampires or scared villagers live.  It must be nice...if you're a vampire.  Her husband is a scrawny, European guy who looks like he could be the dad to those Hanson kids.  Hanson?  Anybody?  They were a band, screw it.  They get led out by stage coach, but it breaks down.  This leads to them walking through the woods.  Just to note: the woman is pregnant at this point.  Well, I guess it could be worse- she could go out stunt-riding on a horse!  Congratulations, Billy Jack- you've officially become a go-to joke!  I'm very distracted during this part because nothing much of interest happens.  There is stuff going on, but it's pretty cliche.  Throw me a bone, movie!  The pair eventually stumble across the dead body of a topless villager.  Okay, that works.
After some boredom/foreshadowing in town, the pair finally get a ride out to the family castle.  The man- who's clearly not this film's Renfield- invites them in, but subsequently locks them in their room.  Why would you do that?  Why aren't the family around during the day?  All of these questions will be answered...right now.  To keep them away from the other rooms and because they're vampires.  After another long bit (or it just feels that way), the lady wakes up from her nap- cue bat dream- to be told that the family has the Castle they already live in.  The group includes dad's young (not a whore) wife, the two (not whores) sisters and papa Dracula.  They explain their lack of tanning as part of a family racial trait.  That's why all hope rests on the baby in the woman's tummy.  During the dinner and afterwards, the husband takes a liking to the other women in the Castle.  Hi, your pregnant wife is right next to you!  Mind you, all three of them flash him at certain points, so it is hard to truly hate him.  Even so- you're a dick!
The wrap-up here gets really weird, but I'll try to make sense of it.  The vampire sisters kill some people around town, including a priest, after they- you guessed it- flash him.  The vampire bride seduces our hero and this eventually leads to his death.  In addition to that, our heroine goes into the room you're not supposed to and inbred, cyclops vampire!  Seriously, that thing is freaky.  Note to the internet: get a shot, since I failed to.  Anyways, they use the husband's death to fully control her and keep her away from others.  Months go by- seriously- and she gets close to giving birth.  It's here that we learn a really freaky 'fact': her fetus is a vampire!  Yes, despite her not being one and her husband not being one, the baby is.  They also state that she is weakening due to it feeding on her in the womb!  Eww.  Eventually, they realize that the film has to end, so they have the woman bring bloody murder to the whole family in a quick, anti-climactic fashion.  However, like Aswang, the baby survives.  One static shot of Dracula's face and the credits roll...
This movie kind of sucks.  I'm trying to be nice here, since it genuinely tries to be good.  However, the pacing is off, the middle is bloated and it just generally feels 'stock.'  The acting is alright (not dubbed, mind you), but nothing special.  Here's a case where having Naschy might have helped!  Like I said, they try some interesting things a certain extent.  So much of the background stuff or ancillary material is just so damn cliched.  Corrupt priest- check.  Scared villagers- check.  The people being meat for the vampires- big check.  If more work had been put into this thing, it could have been a classic.  Sadly, it's a case of the 'should-have beens' and not the 'actually was.'  Vampire fans might want to give this one a try for the overall package, but a lot of it just too weak.  I'm sure that some of you will dig it though.  It's obscure and about vampires, so I can't hate on it too much.  I'm just weak like that, I guess.
Next up, Roger Corman gets the final word in this Week.  His film stars Christopher don't get your hopes up.  Stay tuned...

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