Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #23: Blood for Dracula

One good turn deserves another, and you can't have Yin without Yang, Sylvester without Tweety, or Burke without Hare, so it's a must to follow up yesterday's big scoop of crazy camp mess with it's companion piece film. These are a pair of odd ducks who haunted me in my youth when I'd catch them on cable, and I'll always have a soft-yet-dreadful spot for them... if you haven't seen them, they're a must!

31 Flavors of Horror #23
Blood For Dracula

The flipside of Flesh for Frankenstein, this is the other Andy Warhol-produced nause- fest starring Udo Kier and Joe Dallesandro. As archly grand guignol and overly horny as Frankenstein, but this one is all about Kier, baby. From the long, opening closeup of his fine-boned face as he paints both it and his hair to give the appearance of  health, and life, his Eurotrash Dracula is an epic camp creation. The tired, languid count here is a counterpoint to his manic Frankenstein, and those German "W"s make the word "virgin" a howler. He's whiny, a picky eater, and doesn't appreciate just about anything. He's too busy overacting his tummy aches and hunger pangs. See, these Wampires can only drink the blood of Wirgins, and since the world is so full of, well, sluts, he must abandon his fading sister and head from Romania for conservative, Catholic Italy, which will hopefully be brimming with the chaste.

(Okay, from here, stuff just gets yucky. You were warned...)
The Di Fiore Sisters: These girls are not wirgins.

 Sadly, it's a good idea but seriously poor execution as where he lands is with the Di Fiore family, a clan that's all titles, pretensions and land but seriously lacking in cash. They're very willing to try and offer up any of their four bratty, supposedly unsullied daughters in marriage to the Count. However, communist alpha-male Mario (Dallesandro) got there first. You'd pick the burly, butch farmhand over the annoying, wimpy Count any day. This was made immediately after Flesh for Frankenstein, and I swear his acting is a smidgen better in this one. Dallesandro is easy on the eyes, and his hair is perfect. Sisters Saphiria and Rubinia even tag-team him( (Though Rubinia's solo romp with Mario is hilarious. There's little worse than poorly simulated sex, add a pool and they'd be Showgirls)

This wampire needs Pepcid. Slut Pepcid.
Dracula tries to make his way through the sisters, but turns green and spends what I think is five solid minutes vomiting blood at the first try. The sick scenes run a little long, but their camp factor makes up for it. The one where Dracula collapses in front of the blank, wooded Mario is delightful, while the one with Rubinia is actually rather horrifying, a testament to Kier's acting skills and naturally spooky blue eyes.

Arno Juering plays the Count's assistant, Anton and is just as madly oddball as he was as Otto in Flesh for Frankenstein. His bitchy efficiency reminds one of an evil Waylon Smithers. He's an insane delight, especially in a bar scene where he plays "the mirror game" with Roman Polanski in an uncredited cameo as a farmhand.

If you could see how funny you look...
I'm not overacting! I'm NOT!
Since everyone is speaking English, it's amusing to enjoy how every single member of the Di Fiore family has a different accent. Of the daughters, Stefania Cassini (Rubinia) is the most familiar to genre fans of varied stripes, having appeared in films like Suspiria, The Belly of an Architect, 1900, and an under-rated giallo, The Bloodstained Shadow. Currently, she's appearing on the convention circuit. Milena Vukotic (Esmerelda) appeared in several Luis Bunuel films and always comes off nervous as a kitten when she's not as melodramatic as a silent film actress. The director Vittorio De Sica plays the Marchese Di Fiore, and is very "Italian," unafraid to gesture his way through a line. He passed away soon after but seems to be having a zestful time here. His overacting is well-matched by Maxime McKendry in her only film role. Seriously, she is archly magnificent. Dominique Darel (Saphiria) has a lovely, magnetic presence, but sadly passed away at age 27.

Things start moving quick in the last fifteen minutes in one big, hot mess of death, lesbian incest, rape, bourgeois bad manners and bad acting - and here is where I just say take the time to sit through this wonderfully overblown  camp monster. The gore at the end is on par with that in Flesh for Frankenstein... and, evidently, wampires don't hurt when you chop parts of them off. It's all worth it if for no other reason than to be mesmerized by the over-the-top camp.

No one will ever give us Eurotrash ennui like Udo Kier.

No one.

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