DraculaFest: Blood for Dracula

And here we are, back in the ’70s again. They really loved their vampires in that decade. The biggest surprise to come out of the sheer volume of disco-era Dracula projects is the variety. These aren’t just copycats, but original interpretations. And this is no exception. To put it mildly.

Ain't easy being green.

Ain’t easy being green.

Blood for Dracula (1974) is also known as Andy Warhol’s Dracula, though it’s directed by Paul Morrissey, a member of Warhol’s Factory. A joint French-Italian project filmed in Italy, the Italian title translates to Dracula is Searching for Virgins’ Blood, and… He’s Dying of Thirst! That tells you a lot about what we’re getting into. Fasten your seatbelts if you haven’t dropped acid recently–it may be a bumpy trip.

Count Dracula (Udo Kier) is an aging, decrepit shell of himself who relies on his devoted servant, Anton (Arno Juerging) to survive. He piles his coffin and wheelchair atop his auto and the pair head for Italy to find religious families to prey on. You see, the Count requires the blood of virgins to extend his life, and he’s surrounded by sluts in his native country. I know, I know. He arrives in Italy and uses his title and supposed fortune to insinuate himself into the lives of the Marchese de Fiori (Bicycle Thief director Vittorio DeSica! Why isn’t he directing this?) and his family. The Marchesa (Maxime McKendry) is all too eager to marry off one of their good Catholic daughters to a nobleman and invites him to stay. This doesn’t sit well with Neanderthal handyman Mario Balato (Joe Dallesandro), who has no desire to compete with another stud horse. Balato has deflowered the two middle sisters and looks forward to raping the youngest. (Yes, he uses the R word. In conversation.) Unfortunately, Dracula chooses to feed on the two unchaste sisters (Dominique Darel and Stefania Casini) and winds up on the floor, prostrating himself before the porcelain goddess. “The blood of these whores is killing me,” he famously declares as he regurgitates their tainted blood. He really should avoid Vegas.

Anyway, Balato of all people figures out that Dracula is a vampire and rapes the youngest daughter (Silvia Dionisio) to save her from the Count. Gee, thanks. Dracula continues the war of attrition by feasting on the spinster eldest daughter (Milena Vukotic), but flees at the first sight of Balato wielding an axe. The handyman pursues Dracula into the courtyard, chopping off his limbs one by one and then staking his writhing torso. The spinster falls on Dracula’s stake out of remorse–sharpened on both ends, apparently, for maximum efficiency–and Balato and his young paramour return to the house, where she will presumably fix him a pot pie or something.

Axe me no questions.

Axe me no questions.

Some believe true art must offend. Warhol and Company work so hard at assaulting the viewer’s sensibilities, however, it’s hard to raise more than an eyebrow. The faux-pornographic sex scenes are a shagadelic relic of the past, and rape is a rusty tool with which to poke us in the eye. The whole thing feels a bit lazy on the blasphemy scale. It’s too bad, because Udo Kier’s performance saves this flick from unwatchability. His creepy, ailing and petulant aristocrat is a Dracula we haven’t seen before or since, and he lends a satisfying creepiness to the role. I’m at a loss to explain Joe Dallesandro’s top billing as the lumbering, pimp-handed MRA poster boy. His status as a Warhol superstar surely rests on someone’s pervy wet dream, or a particularly bad acid trip. Claudio Gizzi‘s score and Kier’s Dracula keep things interesting for a while, but like a bad trip, it goes downhill fast.

Goodbye again, ’70s. Blood for Dracula earns 0.5 out of 2 fangs out. These bores are killing me.

Next time: Boppin’ back to the ’50s.