Sunday, November 23, 2014

O komis... Tsakonas – review

Director: Takis Simonetatos

Release Date: 1989

Contains spoilers

O komis... Tsakonas, or Count Tsakonas, or Count Tsakonas and his Draculettes (as one title version went) was a shot on video Greek comedy and was pretty much the brainchild of Panagis Tsakonas who starred in the film and came up with the original concept.

Now I do often say that comedy is subjective, it is also sometimes received well or badly due to knowledge and understanding of cultural nuances (or lack thereof). In this case, however, the fact that it is badly shot and directed probably underline the paucity of humour. Indeed I knew what they were trying to portray – despite any cultural nuance I missed – I just didn’t laugh!

Vera Gouma as Elizabeth
It begins with an open buggy riding through a lovely summer’s day (keep that in mind). In it rides a blonde woman in satin dress and cape, Elizabeth (Vera Gouma). As she passes a workman by the side of the road she flashes fang causing him to collapse (note that the fangs are cheap plastic jokeshop sets). Eventually she reaches her destination and is greeted by Dracula... Ish. He is a Dracula – the name is a title given to the senior vampire of a region (it would appear).

the Dracula
The Dracula has a mission for her. There is a Dracula who they made Prime Minister of a country but he is breaking the rule of gradual exsanguination and his nation has become anaemic. That country is Greece. She is to go and replace him with a newly chosen Dracula, Count Tsakonas (Panagis Tsakonas). He is a descendent of Erzsébet Báthory, just as Elizabeth is – making them distant cousins.

trying to sell the chicken
“Count” Tsakonas is unaware of his regal heritage. When we meet him, he and his nephew have broken into a farmer’s chicken shed. They grab one and feed it wine (to quieten it) before putting it in a sack and leaving. The farmer comes after them with a shotgun and Tsakonas gets a bottom full of buckshot as they escape. They end up at a roadside trying to sell the chicken and having it stolen from them in turn. They meet the local priest (Antonis Yakovakis), who offers them a job clearing weeds at the cemetery – a job Tsakonas doesn’t want as the cemetery scares him but the nephew reminds him that the water is about to be cut off and thus they need the money.

Tsakonas receives his cape 
That night, at the tower in which they live, the nephew watches a horror movie – which doesn’t impress Tsakonas, who switches it off and declares it bed time. Not long after going to bed there is someone at the door – it is Elizabeth, introducing herself as a cousin from Carpathia. She is given a room for the night and we can gloss over the barely funny cemetery gags and get back to the next night when, after dinner, Elizabeth does a ritual to the dark powers, gives Tsakonis a cape (red on the outside, black lining it would appear… or just inside out) and bites him.

cheap plastic fangs
There is no existential grief, there is little learning curve. Tsakonas takes to his new undead status as a duck to water. He aims to go out the next day and Elizabeth warns him about the sun (go back to the opening scene again and revel in the plot hole). He uses sunscreen and she is impressed that he has solved a centuries old problem in a day. The other lore we get centres on garlic and stakes and the fact that it seems to be one bite to turn.

the hunter
As the film continues an unlikely vampire hunter looking for Elizabeth turns up, the arch-Dracula decides that Tsakonas will host the 17th World Vampire Convention (with vampires such as Sir Sherlock Holmes in attendance) and the local men are concerned that the young women all seem to have fallen for Tsakonas and moved in with him (he has bitten and turned them all – hence the alternate title’s use of Draculettes).

the Draculettes
And you know what, it is hard work. It isn’t brilliantly written and the direction is poor. The whole thing looks trashy but sometimes that works in a film’s favour. The trashiness, in this case, was the saving grace as the comedy missed by a mile. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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