Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dracula (the Dirty old Man) – review

Director: William Edwards

Release date: 1969

Contains spoilers

Some films are just a complete wtf moment from beginning to end and that is a fitting description of Dracula (the Dirty Old Man). To be truthful Dracula has had some liberties taken with it as a novel, and as a character, over the years, sometimes verging on abuse. This film must have had poor old Bram Stoker spinning in his grave.

From the very beginning we see the tenure of the film, with a drawn picture of a breast, fang punctures and blood, the blood forms the titles (by panning down not by animation). Even the credit list is inaccurate, comparing it to the imdb credit list (which in this case I am taking as accurate as it at least has not confused the gender of actors). Amusingly the credits do inform us that Vince Kelley plays “Alucard (Dracula spelt backwards)” – just in case we cannot work it out ourselves.

This actually fits strangely with the dialogue later when Dracula announces, something along the lines of, I am Dracula, which is Alucard backwards… you can call me Ali. We’ll get to the main dialogue soon enough but the film starts with a panoramic desert shot, with some impressive psychedelic jazz playing (a theme that continues through the film). A voice begins a stream of consciousness that is amusing at first, though tiresome when he goes on about blue hills behind the blue hills behind the blue hills ad nauseam.

Cut to a cave, a coffin opening and Dracula getting up. The first thing we notice is the dialogue. It is his thoughts, it is very silly (with comments about needing the bathroom and interior decorating) and a faux-Jewish accent is used. We discover as things roll on that all the dialogue has been dubbed. It seems that the original sound was so bad the whole thing was dubbed, with the ‘voice talent’ adding in thoughts all the way through as well as narrative dialogue. Honestly, it is like Badly Dubbed Porn all the way through. This works at a puerile level at first but quickly grates.

Anyway, Dracula goes off and spies on a house. This happens to belong to Ann (Ann Hollis), who has just returned from a date with Mike (Billy Whitton). Dracula watches her get undressed (and, of course, we get an endless barrage of dubbed commentary). This scene goes on and on… because this is the level of the movie; it is kind of sexploitation to sub-softcore porn (with disturbing elements). Eventually she goes to her window and he raises cape and turns into – a really crap bat. It looks like a mutant version of Mickey Mouse and the stick it is on becomes clear during the shot.

Mike has taken Ann to breakfast and arranged to go on another date when he is told that his boss is sending him to an old mining town to interview the new owner, Alucard – Mike, it seems, is a journalist. He has to abandon the date as it will take him all day to get there and back. He arrives and eventually finds Dracula in a cave, who hypnotises him and tells him that he is to be a Jackal-Man – think werewolf – and renames him Irving Jackal-Man.

This then is the film. Mike becomes Irving and then chases after girls (the second victim actually cries out something like oh no, Irving Jackal-Man, though how she knew is beyond me). Dracula then instantly transports them to the cave where he strips them, insults them, ties them up, kisses and fondles them and then bites their breast. This leads to some of the worst agony face pulls in movie history.

Ah, but it gets worse, you see Irving is horny and he actually rapes one of the victims – with his pants still on. He ‘kisses’ her during – going too deep (ie biting her) and killing her and so then continues to rape the corpse. It isn’t erotic, it was just plain old wrong. What all this does lead to is a variety of young ladies in a state of undress.

Of course any man attacked (because they got in the way) is killed whilst clothed. Thus the film avoids naked male flesh but does use copious amounts of tomato ketchup to simulate blood. The only other real effects in the film involve quick cuts to make Dracula look like he has vanished or reappeared.

Eventually Irving kidnaps Ann and the monsters end up fighting over her – allowing her to escape and run naked through cave/mine tunnels – until Dracula perishes due to sunlight, but don’t get too excited as the effects are so minimal as to not really exist and one has to question just how the mouth of the mine got so close to Dracula’s lair all of a sudden.

Bad, but it starts off amusing with the dubbing (for all of a few minutes, until it grates) and the soundtrack is nice. Other than this, no real plot, no characterisation, misogynistic and sadistic elements that ensure the sexploitation aspects are less a frisson and are simply distasteful. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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