Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tiempos duros para Drácula – review


Directed by: Jorge Darnell

First release: 1976

Contains spoilers

Hard Times for Dracula… or so it would seem in this Spanish/Argentina joint produced movie. Tiempos duros para Drácula is a comedy and maybe it was just me but I wasn’t overly amused as I watched it.

After credits with a bizarre almost electro version of the funeral dirge, it begins with Drácula (José Lifante), high necked cape and all, in the rain – absolutely soaked and knocking on a door. A woman in a nurse’s uniform opens the door and he asks for a transfusion before falling unconscious. Through bleary eyes he sees the fuzzy shape of hospital staff all around him as he is wheeled on a trolley.

waking in hospitalHe finally awakens in a room, a man sits by him who explains that the is an asylum, rather than a standard hospital. Drácula starts to tell him the story of his fall from grace – as it were – and this makes up the bulk of the film. It is, I guess, best described as a series of vignettes or comic sketches about the ill fated vampire.

remembering happier daysHe begins with the castle. Mortgaged up to the eyeballs and behind on his electricity bill payments Drácula has had to turn the castle into a tourist trap. He has fake cobwebs, wolf howls on tape and crap bats on strings that swoop at the sightseers. He makes an appearance in full formal attire. Then the electricity got cut off (mid performance) and his assistant, Archibaldo, left his service.

advertising toothpasteThis is the start of a downward spiral for Drácula, he uses his ancestral ‘book of prophecies’ and summons forth a girl – only to loose the spell to a domestic. He gets his formal cloak from a pawn shop (it seemed) but ends up attacked by a socialist sweep. He gets a job advertising toothpaste but is fired due to looking like a famous politician and he gets into movies but a fight stunt causes one of his fangs to be knocked out.

Sonia is only using himHe does go to the dentist but he can’t afford a prosthetic and the dentist refuses to glue his original fang back on. There is a suspicion that he needed a good woman and he tells how he found one, Sonia, but after their wedding it became apparent that as well as having only one fang he was impotent. Then it turns out that she used him, wrote a book called Taming the Vampire and then divorced him.

Drácula the pop starOn it goes, so what about our Drácula. Other than fangs (or one fang) he does not meet either the novel born or movie born expectations. Whilst he wears formal wear, he also wears a Mickey Mouse vest and bats boxer shorts. When a pop star, for a short while, he took to wearing a large blonde wig. He has a reflection and can go around in daylight. There is no indication of shapeshifting abilities.

We see him successfully drink blood once – his victim is diabetic and he has a sweet tooth. We see him shot at, to no avail, but we cannot tell if he is bullet proof or if the cuckolded husband is a bad shot. Certainly, later, he breaks into the Chief of Police’s house as a way of committing suicide – an act that fails when the Chief of Police offers him his wife as a snack – and the 'suicide' would have been via a handgun.

drunken vampire hunterWe see him go to the cinema and watch a film, which he rather enjoys. Recognisably it was Jess Franco’s Count Dracula – which in clips worked rather well! He also comes across a drunken cemetery caretaker who always wanted to be a vampire hunter – Drácula beats a hasty retreat.

All in all he might have just been a delusional man who believed he was a vampire – even when he was at school, as we see in flashback.

José Lifante makes a rather passable DráculaNow I rather liked José Lifante’s performance in this – he makes a rather passable comic Drácula but, generally, I did not find myself enamoured with the jokes in the film – always a problem when it comes to comedy. The final punchline could be seen a mile off and, other than that, the film seemed to be a movie searching for plot and/or purpose. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

He doesn't really look like a good vampire, does he?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

he is a particularly poor one it has to be said - though, as I mentioned - I liked the actor's performance