“Blood for Dracula” – The Least Dangerous Dracula Ever?

Blood for Dracula (1974)

The early 1970’s were an odd and experimenal time for horror movies. “Blood for Dracula” is a strange one. Written and directed by Andy Warhol’s film collaborator Paul Morrissey, with Warhol himself tagged as a producer. Perhaps he ponied up some of the funds to make this film, but I’m not certain.

Many of the actors could also have filtered through Warhol’s Factory. Some of them definitely have that vibe about them, and male lead Joe Dallesandro certainly hobnobbed in Warhol’s scene.  In any case, “Blood for Dracula” has an odd mix of actors.

The story takes place in the early 1920’s, with Dracula (played by Udo Kier) wasting away in his Transylvanian castle. In this version of the Dracula story, the Count must feed on the blood of virgins to survive. Unfortunately for him, virgins are a rarity in Transylvania, and the Count is sickly and unhappy. His human servant Anton (played creepily by Arno Juerging) has a clever plan. He and the Count will load up the car, strap Dracula’s coffin on top, and head to Italy where more people are Catholic, and presumably saving themselves for marriage.

So they hit the road (during the day, apparently this vampire can handle daylight with no problem) In short order they meet a once-wealthy family who have landed on hard times, and who just happen to have a bunch of “virgin” daughters that need marrying off to a rich guy. So Anton arranges for the Count to meet the young ladies, under the pretense of choosing a virgin bride, although he’s really just looking for some good eats. The problem is that, of the four daughters this family has, two of them have been secretly fucking the estate’s handyman, Mario, played by Dallesandro. Mario comes off like an asshole, and is a Marxist that talks constantly about the coming revolution, but he’s really good looking, and possesses a seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. The middle daughters seem to like that about him.

Soon, Dracula has tried to feed off of both middle daughters, and discovers the hard way that they aren’t virgins. Basically their blood poisons him, and he spends a lot of screen time vomiting copious amounts of blood and having seizures. The youngest daughter Perla isn’t offered for marriage because she’s only fourteen. The Count decides to feed on her anyway, before he and Anton beat it back to Transylvania. Unfortunately for him, Mario has discovered that Dracula is a vampire, since the middle sisters are all fangy and screwed up, so he arrives at the only course of action. He decides to fuck the youngest daughter to prevent Dracula from getting her. Classy guy, that Mario.

I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s nothing special really. Dracula is bested, and Mario and Perla live happily ever after. Until the Marxist Revolution comes along, and takes the rest of the estate…or Mario finds more daughters to seduce. Who knows, maybe they end up together long term. We can hope.

As mentioned earlier, this film is pretty strange. It’s got some good stuff going for it. The European locations are very authentic looking and beautiful. The estate house looks the part. Once opulent, but deep in decline, and the rest of the film locations look equally nice. Director Morrissey shows good skills behind the camera, and there are some interesting angles and tracking shots sprinkled throughout the movie.

Everyone except for Joe Dallesandro has a heavy accent of one kind of another. The film was French and Italian co-production, and the actors and actresses all seem to have come from those countries, with a few Germans joining them. So lots of heavy accents, most of which aren’t consistent with one another. Then there is Mario, who according to the film’s plot, is Italian, and whose family has worked at the estate for a couple of generations. Joe sounds like he’s straight out of Brooklyn, he doesn’t even try a different accent. A lot of the dialogue is weird and stilted too. I’ve heard that much of that dialogue was due to improvisation, and it sounds like it. 
 
Dracula himself is an odd duck in this film. Udo Kier is both ugly and weirdly attractive. He looks like a mixture of Peter Lorre and a female fashion model. It’s hard to describe, but he looked like he could be a creepy blood sucking monster. His portrayal of Dracula is also strange in that he must be the weakest Dracula ever. He’s supposed to be sickly, and he certainly looks the part, even his attacks look like they could be repelled by a twelve year old in reasonably good shape. There are many scenes of him being violently ill, and very few of him being convincingly menacing. His servant Anton is really creepy, much more so than Dracula.

This film was originally given an X rating due to a lot of nudity and sexual content, and it does indeed include a lot of that, but it’s nothing more explicit than I’ve seen in other Eurosleaze films from the 1970’s, and a lot less than I’ve seen in many. There is one scene where Mario forces one of the daughters to give him a blowjob, that was probably pretty strong for the time, but it wasn’t explicit enough to warrant an X rating in my opinion. The film is quite violent for the time, although most of the gore is not particularly convincing.
The film also suffers from being a bit long in its uncut form, clocking in at over two hours, but I can’t imagine wanting to see one of the shorter edited versions, as a lot of the movie’s charm is in how over the top it’s willing to go.Image

I enjoyed “Blood for Dracula” but it’s not a straightforward European vampire film, in the mold of the Hammer productions of the same period. It is a weird mixture of slick film-making, combined with a very European atmosphere, strangely uneven acting and accents, and a few things that betray Morressey’s background as an underground experimental film maker. If I gave out stars, I’d give “Blood for Dracula” five cloves of garlic out of ten. Observant viewers will also spot a Roman Polansky in a cameo as a villager.
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