Thursday, April 03, 2008

Blood of Dracula’s castle - review

German vhs cover

Directed by: Al Adamson & Jean Hewitt

Release Date: 1969

Contains spoilers

Now just look at the cover art – fantastic, silly but fantastic. It is a pity that it is the best thing about this turkey of a movie. Director Al Adamson seems to have some kind of cult following however he is also the director responsible for the turkey of a film Dracula vs Frankenstein. This one has to get the award for some of the lamest vampires ever.

The film begins with a woman, Ann (Vicki Volante), driving along. The tune playing is catchy and, as a viewer, you get the impression that something is going to happen. Eventually it does… she runs out of gas. Wandering off through the wilderness, without a care in the world, she comes face to face with monstrous henchman Mango (Ray Young), she screams, passes out and gets carried off.

a photoshootGlen Cannon (Gene Otis Shayne) is a photographer taking pictures of his model fiancée Liz (Jennifer Bishop) at some sort of Sea-world place. Honestly, they are just the sort of crazy kids you’d really want to avoid. She’s self absorbed, he thinks he’s funny… you know the type. Anyway he receives a telegram that tells him that his Uncle Tom has passed away and left him his castle. Only problem is, there are sitting tenants.

vampires, my dearCut to said castle and let us meet Count (Alexander D’Arcy) and Countess Townsend (Paula Raymond). They are perplexed, their landlord has died. Perhaps they should try and buy the castle, or perhaps they should just scare the new owner to death? They are, of course, vampires. We later discover that he is Dracula. Why the name change? The film mentions the question and then ducks an answer.

Ray Young as MangoThey share the castle with some despicable henchmen. We have already mentioned Mango. A giant of a man, dumb it seems and slow witted to boot, he goes out and captures girls for the cellar. The girls are kept chained up and siphoned regularly. Mango is rewarded with the ones who are coming to the end of their usefulness. We don’t see what he does to them but it involves a lot of screaming.

a sacrifice to LunaAlso with them is George (John Carradine), the butler. He is fiercely loyal to them after they saved him from the hangman’s noose. He was going to be hung for sacrificing girls to his God – Luna. He is obviously some sort of high priest and the sacrifices take the form of burning the girls alive on the first night of the full moon.

Robert Dix as JohnnyThe Count has arranged for the escape of Johnny (Robert Dix), a complete homicidal maniac who goes nuts on the full moon. He is not a werewolf, despite one edit of the film cutting in an image of a guy in a wolf mask, and to say he goes crazy once a month is a bit of a misnomer. Let us follow his escape from the secure psychiatric unit on a night with no full moon. The Count has paid a guard $5000 dollars to help him escape. The guard asks Johnny to knock him out, so Johnny beats him to death. He has scent hounds on his trail the next day but still finds time to drown a random girl in a bikini. He then brains a motorist with a rock, puts him in the back of his own car and steals it. He spots a hitchhiker, stops and blows the guy’s brains out, with a conveniently available shotgun, and steals his luggage. He then drives the stolen car (with driver, unconscious but still able to scream) off a cliff.

arriving at the castleOf course Glen and Liz show up, tell the Count that they want the castle and end up stumbling into the cellar, getting captured and being placed in ring side seats for a sacrifice to Luna – the Count has found religion it seems. Oh me, oh my… how will they escape and could we care?

chained girlsThe escape comes about as these are really lame vampires as our exploration of the lore will reveal. They no longer bite, but must drink blood daily - hence the girls in the cellar. It must be the blood of the young and type AB from a young girl is the best… picky. They long for the invention of synthetic blood so they can end their criminal ways and, we assume, reintegrate into society.

what a pair of wuss vampiresThey are captured and put up no fight, despite being held at gunpoint only, allowing themselves to be tied up and then begging (yes, you read right, begging) to be let back to their coffins as the sun rises. The sun isn’t, per se, the problem. Not being in their coffins is. They start to age – we see a little bit of grey – and then the aging is described in dialogue rather than being shown. Eventually they turn to dust, and the camera cuts back, but then bats pop out of their clothes. Bizarre.

John Carradine as GeorgeThe film might have been a hoot, if played for laughs, but it was played worryingly straight. The trouble is, it was boring and the characters were as bad as the acting that supplied them. The only one that added any gravitas to their role was, as you would expect, Carradine and he looked embarrassed by the whole thing.

The Count contemplates his navelThe dialogue isn’t much to write home about either. When a trapped Ann demands to know what the Count and Countess are she is told, quite honestly, vampires. “I know we may seem a novelty, but there are a few of us left,” explains the Countess. A real turkey, as I said. 1.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

3 comments:

Giovanni Maximiliano Tavares Lanza said...

You are completely right. I remember being excited for this film because of the amazing cover art, it took me years to find it on DVD, what a dissapointment.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Giovanni, thanks for stopping by and commenting - sorry it took a few days to release the comments - I was on vacation.

It is disappointing, isn't it.

Giovanni Maximiliano Tavares Lanza said...

No problem. Yes, I was expecting better but Al Admason can take any concept and ruin it.