Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mama Dracula – review

Directed by: Boris Szulzinger

Release Date: 1980

Contains spoilers

Before I review the film I just want to mention a little about how I came to get the DVD. The film was mentioned some time ago by Phelpster, who also pointed out that it only seemed to be in a set of 20 films called Vampires and More.
Recently I spotted the set really cheap (and new) on e-bay and thought, what the Hell. Unfortunately the set was faulty – disc 1 and 4 do not play all the films contained there on. I contacted the seller, who immediately got back to me and informed me that mine wasn’t the first complaint he’s had about the set and so gave me a full refund and said keep the discs. Many thanks, and much respect, to movie-cellar for showing such integrity.

I cannot really say, however, that it was lucky that Mama Dracula was on one of the working discs because I haven’t seen such a wholly incoherent mess in a long time. Apologies, in advance, for the quality of screenshots – the transfer is awful.

The film is concerned with Countess Dracula (Louise Fletcher), of course they mean Báthory, who had no connection with either the historical or literary Dracula. The film itself starts with Professor Von Bloed (Jimmy Shuman) being invited to a scientific congress on blood research by Countess Dracula. As he sets off (by boat) we see the Statue of Liberty grow fangs – we know things are going to be really bad.

At Countess Dracula’s castle he meets her two sons (?) Vladimir (Marc-Henri Wajnberg) and Ladislas (Alexander Wajnberg) and discovers that there is no congress. Countess Dracula must bathe in virgin blood, which is in short supply now-a-days, so wants him to create artificial blood, a task he is only too willing to complete for the million dollars offered. Victims are gained via (the very modern, compared to the period village near the castle) nearby city, through the vampire’s clothing store, the subtly named Vamp.

An inspector (Jess Hahn) is investigating vampiric crimes, helped by his assistant Nancy (Maria Schnieder). Nancy is kidnapped by the vampires, and the two male vampires and the professor all fall for her. That’s about the most I could get story wise.

Ostensibly this is a comedy farce. Hell we have characters like the Professor’s grandmother named Gram Stoker (Suzy Falk) – you can groan if you wish.
The trouble is, it isn’t funny – not at all. I couldn’t even raise a titter laughing at it, never mind with it. An incoherent plot does not help, and it really is a rambling, disjointed mess. To be honest the only reason I got through this was because of the review – and it took all my will power. I actually turned the film off and thought about forgetting all about the review at one point.

The vampire lore is just as incoherent. Mama Dracula bathes in virgin blood to stay eternally young and yet her sons are fanged vampires. They can go out in sunlight, they do not need coffins and native earth, they do not fear the cross and they can eat garlic. The only thing that holds is having no reflections, they even laugh at the idea of a stake through the heart killing them. Yet, despite this, we discover later that they are afraid of the Star of David, which made that gag a bad Fearless Vampire Killers rip off.

Bad acting and poor comedy would have lowered my final score, obviously, but the fact that there was no real story utterly torpedoes it into oblivion. The lack of story is more of a shame as the idea that a vampire would employ a scientist to make artificial blood that he or she could drink is a nice story starting point. I don’t even think giving this mess a MST3K make-over would help. One to avoid, 0 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Edna Sweetlove said...

MAMA DRACULA sounds wonderfully poor. And while we're on the subject of vampire comedies, how about a review of one of Edna's all-time favourite films: LOVE AT FIRST BITE (with George Hamilton as Drac). That's a 9 out of 10 if ever I saw one (it loses 1 mark for the dull final 10 minutes). Yee ha!

Edna Sweetlove said...

Aha, I see that you've already reviewed LAFB... and given it only 6 out of 10!? Oh dear... Edna'll get her coat.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Edna, as always reviews are subjective. I remember loving Love at First Bite when I saw it years ago, but when I got the DVD it just wasn't as good as I remembered it. Definitely above average though, and always worth a watch.

I'm unsure as to whether the sequel, allegedly in production, will be as good.

Edna Sweetlove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edna Sweetlove said...

Can you give me a source for the rumour about the sequel? Surely it wouldn't be for cinema release!? It doesn't seem too promising - they were running out of ideas back in '79 with the unamusing car chase at the end. Still, I'd give it a whirl, as George Hamilton can be hilarious with decent script and direction (though admittedly he's usually as wooden as 2 planks put together, LAFB and ZORRO THE GAY BLADE being the obvious exceptions).

I've now added a rant/comment to your LAFB review, btw. LAFB is so good, it should have a large cult following. (Did you see the version with "I Love the Nightlife" intact on the soundtrack? I understand they ruined the dance scene because of copyright reasons on the DVD release.)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I don't believe that I love the nightlife is on my version (the dance sequence certainly doesn't have it on) if it was on the original VHS then I saw it with it on years ago - but can't remember.

A few details on the sequel here. There is an imdb page (quoted in for 2008) but accessible only if you have imdb pro.

the running synopsis from uhm: "the film takes place 25 years after the events of the first film, centering on Dracula's Americanized son, who has rejected his family's heritage and is getting married to a human. Trouble ensues when he learns that his vampire relatives are coming to America for the wedding."

Edna Sweetlove said...

Edna's thanks for the info. Here's something unfunny for you:

Taliesin_ttlg said...

oh my word - now that was bad! lol

phelpster said...

Good review for a completely terrible film. I actually got my copy for free too, I picked up several videos from Hollywood Video for like $2 a piece, and the guy told me Mamma Dracula had been deleted from the system already, so he let me have it. Thank God neither of us actually paid money to see it. And man, how ugly were those brothers? They were like circus ugly. Yikes.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I actually wouldn't have minded if I paid for the set as there were a couple of the none vampire films that I wanted - to my shame I didn't have a DVD version of Night of the Living Dead for instance.

That said there was one of the zombie ones that I wanted to see as it has an alternate vampire title and I wanted to check it out, perhaps for a 'vamp or not?' - that's one of the films that doesn't work!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Oh, I should have added - yes they were incredibly ugly! lol