Whoa! Now that's surreal! So you find yourself with a full cast and crew along with a huge-name producer like Andy Warhol and you're on the Italian Countryside with permission to film, plus time and money. Surprisingly somebody stepped up and said "Hey, let's make another movie!" So they did! Hell, they'd already done Frankenstein! Whose got an idea? Dracula? That's brilliant! Let's make this film!
Actually, I would have expected them to say "How about some whoring and drinking?", but considering the content of the second film they made (with the same cast, crew and locations) that was pretty well covered, too!
I first heard of Blood for Dracula years ago from a movie buff friend of mine who, quite simply, thought it was horrible. He derided both "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein" and "Andy Warhol's Dracula" as something akin to beads of piss on a poison ivy leaf! However, the way he described Warhol's Dracula was as interesting to me in my blood-boiling hormonal teen years as it is to me during my blood-boiling hormonal present! The description, essentially, was that the character of Dracula needed to drink the blood of virgin girls to survive and so a gallant young man did the world the selfless service of deflowering the virgin girls in order to defeat the wicked Count!
I pictured a heroic youth traveling across Italy, seducing beautiful women for pornographic trysts, just before our famed Vampire arrived only to hiss "Curses, foiled again!" and skulk off mincingly in the other direction! Rinse, repeat and you've got a bad, yet potentially very hot, horror movie.
Well, that's not at all what Blood for Dracula is like! In fact, after seeing Flesh for Frankenstein I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't at all like my initial assumptions. Instead what we get is Dracula as a sick and pathetic count as played by Udo Kier. He's in SUCH bad shape that he has to wear lots of stage makeup just to look as good as Udo Kier! He's also got a sister and a bunch of unseen relatives downstairs, none of whom are doing very well because the legends of Dracula are so prolific that Romanians and Gypsies alike avoid Transylvania like its teaming with Vampires or something. No villagers and no visitors means, of course, no Virgins and in this story if it's not Extra Virgin, Single-Malt blood, then too bad for the denizens of fangland!
Luckily the Count has a silly servant named Otto (Arno Juerging) who has the bright idea of the duo going on a road trip to where Dracula has never been heard of in search of virgin chicks. Luckily they didn't choose Daytona Beach first!
On the other hand, they didn't fare all that much better where they did end up. Their new stomping grounds are almost as short on virgins as a brothel next to a Viagra factory on free sample day! However, after meeting a grouchy tavern patron (played by, no shit, Roman Polanski who happened to be in the area), the Drak Pack is directed to the palatial home of Il Marchese Di Fiore (Vittorio De Sica) who has a kind wife (Maxime McKendry) and three beautiful daughters who might be not only marriageable, but also... VIRGINS!
The problem is that while one of them is admirably chaste and virtuous, two of them most certainly are not! In fact these two spend quite a lot of time naked with the servant boy Mario (dully portrayed by Joe Dallesandro) and when they're having slummy sex with him they're engaging in incestuous lesbian sex with each other!!!
That last part makes me wonder why they would keep a surly douche-bag like Dallesandro's character around anyway! Indeed, that gallant young hero I was expecting turns out to be this goof-ball who looks like a Todd Doll, acts like he's constipated after a bike ride and spouts lame-ass communist propaganda. And seriously, THIS GUY gets laid? Ridiculous.
Under the ruse of being a rich Count (which he is) who is looking to live out his life with a virgin Fiore daughter (which he isn't), Dracula and asinine Anton settle in with the Fiore clan so that the goofy Vampire can choose his lady (or, at least, his dinner).
The rest is a race to save the girls from Dracula while the girls' parents are idly wondering what the hell is going on. There isn't any heroism involved in Mario's quest, either, nor is he all that interested in "rescuing" the girls. He just feels like being an asshole to the Count, possibly as much for his aristocratic status as the fact that he's a creature of the night. Oh and that virginity relief that the character is known for? Rape! The man is NO Van Helsing!
Not that the script ever tries to make Mario into a likeable guy. In fact, there actually aren't any likeable or sympathetic characters in the entire movie. Much like Flesh For Frankenstein before it, Blood for Dracula works hard on being an experiment in bad taste that both sends-up and pays tribute to the ornate productions of the classic horror period. The idea is, if you don't like it "It's supposed to be bad!" but if you love it "We meant to do that!" Part of the "Bad" (intentional or claimed-to-be intentional) aspect of the film can be traced back to the script (or lack thereof). Although director Paul Morrissey is the only credited writer, the speed of the production meant that much of the script was improvised by the reused cast leading to a disjointed and uneven narrative.
It's far from only the cast that carry over from the Frankenstein project. Even behind the camera just about everyone involved in Frankenstein has a stake in Dracula! Obviously Warhol and Morrissey are back as producer and director, but we also get repeat names like Pat Hackett and Antonio Margheriti (for better or for worse). Luckily, Carlo Rambaldi is also back in charge of special effects. Rambaldi fans should appreciate the job he does here especially as some of the effects seem to be almost precursors to certain sequences he worked on for Alien. When it's time for a character to have all four limbs chopped off, Carlo is there with the ways and means!
There isn't quite as much blood and gore in this film as there was in Flesh, but the same uncomfortable and queasy feel is sought by the filmmakers at the expense of the scant beauty in the overall production. Perhaps it would have been more effective if it weren't so very obvious in its execution. They might as well have subtitles pop up that read "You should be feeling nauseous and scared right now, but you probably should also laugh because of the way we're doing this, so please do! Please?"
Obviously, quite a bit of what the viewer takes away from this movie depends greatly on how much they "get it"! Fans of both films tend to argue that anyone who doesn't like it must not "get it". Easy defense, but this film is neither a comedy nor an ironic monsterpiece that succeeds due to its self-aware nature. Much of what is bad, quite simply, is bad and the reasons behind it don't make it any less so.
To be fair, there are a lot of interesting ideas in Blood for Dracula and, in fact, this had the potential to be a better movie than Flesh for Frankenstein. However, the film stagnates in its drive somewhere around the halfway mark and settles into a rut that it fills with lovely nudity, gross gore and boring dialogue. Often times the converted "Brides of Dracula" have about as much life in their mesmerized, controlled state as they do as free-spirited, lively young women. Dallesandro seems almost annoyed with the entire process (even frolicking with naked women) and gives a performance that suggests he would rather have had the two weeks of film time off instead of making another film. Yeah, we get it, he's an angry, disaffected young man. Fear not, though... Udo Kier takes up the slack as often as possible by overacting his way to a level unseen since... well, Flesh for Frankenstein!
It's not hard to see why the film has its fans. I, myself, can point to some good moments in much of the film, but it's hard for the clear-headed viewer not to want a lot more. In certain circles it's tantamount to blasphemy to critique anything with Andy Warhol's name on it. I'm a huge fan of Andy Warhol myself but taking a step back, would this film have the notoriety or even notability that it does without his name attached? Send up or tribute, goof up or planned out, silly or solid, Blood for Dracula is neither the classic, nor anti-classic it could have been. There are MUCH hotter hot Vampire flicks out there!
From Frankenstein working on his "Zombies" to Dracula crouched on a dirty floor sucking up the blood of a rape victim, these films aren't exactly the kind of thing you're going to want to watch with your mom. Or with most anybody else. Or by yourself. The nudity and sex aren't enough, nor are the lavish sets or interesting photography. With these and the interesting original ideas, Blood for Dracula gets Two Stars out of Five! Without them it fares quite a bit worse. For the Warhol, take in the Campbell's Soup Can exhibition in Balboa Park next time that rolls around and overdose on more pop-art than you could shake a beret at. For the sexy vampire tale, check out Vampyros Lesbos. For more Udo Kier... well... haven't you had enough by now? I'm kidding, I'm kidding. So, until Dracula refuses to drink my blood because I've been such a whore (though never a quote whore, fuck you very much) I'll see you in the next reel!
If you're a Virgin of marriageable age,
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Unlike Dracula and Mario, I'm not so descriminating!