Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Loves of Dracula – review

Directors: Various

Release date: 1979

Contains spoilers

So, I have already looked at the first film cut from the Cliff Hangers TV series segment the Curse of Dracula, which was the World of Dracula. Follow that link for some background to the series.

The cliff hanger we were left with was that vampire hunter Mary Gibbons (Carol Baxter) had been bitten twice by Dracula (Michael Nouri) and was about to chomp on Kurt Von Helsing (Stephen Johnson) when her mother, Amanda (Louise Sorel), intervenes. Amanda didn’t stay dead ten years before and is now a vampire but works with Kurt to hide Mary away from Dracula so he can’t put the third bite on her and turn her fully to one of the undead – apparently two bites is enough to give fangs and a severe allergy to holy items (and an inconsistent sun allergy too).

looking  for a bite
However, before we get to where she has been hidden we get a recap to the last film. Now I mentioned on the last review the flashback issue. Well this opened with Dracula remembering where he first met the pair of hunters… the opening of the last film, however that was set up like we were half way through the story and it was clearly not the first time they had destroyed a resting place. The fact that there is fifteen minutes of unnecessary recap is a problem.

Let's talk dirt
We then discover that Mary has been taken to a convent and Dracula knows it (his raven told him). He has discovered that Amanda has killed his helper Darryl (Mark Montgomery) and so tells the jealous Antoinette (Antoinette Stella) to have third sidekick Christine (Bever-Leigh Banfield) go to the convent and watch that nothing happens to Mary. Antoinette instead tells Christine that the orders are to kill Mary! Meanwhile Dracula heads home to find Amanda in his coffin. She’s brought a bag of her own native earth, she can spread it next to his and they can have a day of remembering their old love – talk about dirty talk!

Michael Nouri as Dracula
She gets him to go to an old safehouse they used to use (an abandoned building) and he opens up a steel door into a room with coffin and candelabra. He gets the candles going and than opens the coffin but his earth has gone, Amanda shuts the door and breaks the mechanism so Dracula can’t open it. Content that he is as good as dead (there is a hole in the ceiling to let in the sun and no dirt in his coffin to allow his retreat below the lid) she goes to another room and beds down for the day. Dracula gets somewhat panicky. He’s jumping at the hole in the ceiling but can’t quite grab a hand hold to get out and I guess this Dracula can’t turn into a bat.

slowly frying in the sun
Kurt comes along as Dracula is weakening and through the door Dracula suggests (in a lie) that Antoinette will try and kill Mary unless he speaks to her. Kurt lets him go and then, figuring Dracula won’t save her, heads to the convent. Dracula later is amused by the irony that his fiction was actually the truth and that Antoinette was trying to off Mary via Christine (a fanged Christine, out in the sun, tries to drop a statue on Mary's head).

going through the cure
So the battle is on for Mary’s soul and one thing that was nearly brilliant was the cure. Amanda tells Kurt that they must purge Dracula’s taint from Mary’s body by dripping holy water on the skin. This and sunlight are agony for her and she seems to go through hideous pain. That was really well done. Throwing the flashbacks in wasn’t well done. They were to Dracula’s seduction of her and counterpointed the pain goodness caused her – but I already had my fill of flashback and this didn’t help. Once her body has been purged, her soul must be purged also by having her stake a conscious vampire and release them. That was interesting.

not subtle
Dracula isn’t really understating himself. He is driving a car with the licence plate eternal and keeps legging it around in a cape. The idea that Amanda would ward Dracula with a cross and take the pain as it burnt her was nice. The sunlight rule was confused. I liked that it was a drawn out thing – Dracula doesn’t insta-bake – however, for the half vampires, Mary finds it agony when being cured (but walks around in it at other times) and Christine and Antoinette have no problem at all.

Stephen Johnson as Kurt
This film allowed the Amanda character to be expanded a touch, which was good. What I couldn’t stand, however, was the melodrama. The soundtrack was overly melodramatic at times but the acting, in places, was so thick with melodrama it was untrue. If Mary’s agonies when she faced her cure were well done, her simpering looks to camera when Dracula was finally got (well it had to happen, didn’t it, but don’t worry Dracula could always come back again) were painful. The better parts of this outstripped the first part but the flashbacks and 15 minute recap, plus simpering melodrama drag it back down. 4 out of 10.

The series’ imdb page is here.

No comments: