The Morbid Imagination » Sexy Vampire

My Favorite Vampire Movie

Posted in Movies on June 23rd, 2009 by admin

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I won’t go so far as to call Paul Morrissey’s Blood for Dracula (1974) high art, but it is a more effective and serious vampire movie than most of the high profile vampire movies of the last fifty years.

It may seem a stretch to label a movie featuring over the top acting, in- your-face comical gore effects, and soft core sex serious, but Blood for Dracula has something that movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Horror of Dracula (1958) and Twilight (2008) all lack:  subtext. Additionally, Blood for Dracula deconstructs the sexy vampire stereotype and returns to its creepy, undead origins.

Did you hate Twilight? Blood for Dracula is the anti-Twilight.

Blood for Dracula was filmed as an improvised afterthought when the 3D camp extravaganza Flesh for Frankenstein was finished under budget and ahead of schedule. Dracula exceeds Frankenstein in every aspect including outrageousness and camp.

Udo Kier’s Dracula is a whiny, effete aristocrat who pukes up gallons of blood every time he drinks the blood of non virgins. Driven from Transylvania by the lack of local virgins, he selects Italy for his new feeding ground, based on the theory that the influence of the Catholic church will keep the Italian girls pure. Unfortunately, he settles in with a noble family whose daughters are being plowed regularly by misplaced Brooklyn mook Joe Dallesandro. It seems likely that the producers of the movie recruited the actresses playing the daughters from the nearest disco by promising them mountains of coke.

Blood for Dracula was not made in 3D, but it hardly matters. The last fifteen minutes is a crazed, blood spurting orgy of wonderful dementia, on top of a movie rich in laugh lines. Along the way, Morrissey manages to deconstruct the glamorous, sexy vampire into a wretched, pitiful creep reduced to licking hymeneal blood off the floor. You can also credibly view the movie as a commentary on the parasitic nature of aristocracy.

It’s sad that a movie made on the spur of the moment and intended for distribution as a midnight movie took more time to reflect on the implications and possibilities of the vampire myth than numerous big-budgeted movies made since then.

Besides, I’ll take Udo Kier over Keanu Reeves any day…

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The First Sexy Vampire Film

Posted in Movies on January 10th, 2009 by admin

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Since its re-release in 1993 the Spanish version of Drácula (1931) has generated a debate regarding its merits relative to Tod Browning’s Dracula, filmed simultaneously on the same stages. There is no doubt that director George Melford surpassed Browning in many respects, and delivered a somewhat more robust film, but the absence of Lugosi ultimately consigns Drácula to second rank status.

However, Drácula can claim its place in history as the first sexy vampire film, thanks mainly to the female lead, Lupita Tovar and her costumer.

The movies did not introduce sex to Dracula. The novel had plenty of it, just take a taste of this sample:

“The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer, nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.”

Whew!

But until Drácula, this aspect of vampirism was neglected. The only real vampire film prior to 1931 was Nosferatu (1922), which featured a repulsive vampire and a female victim who chastely kept her assailant at bay until sunrise destroyed him. Browning’s Dracula had no overt sexuality either, although thousands of women swooned over Lugosi’s commanding glare.

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In Drácula, the vampire’s kiss unleashes Eva’s (Tovar) libido. She flounces around the house in a diaphanous gown with abundant cleavage, shocking her father and fiance, Juan. Moreover, she seems in a state of high arousal, and winds up pouncing on poor Juan, teeth bared.

In Browning’s Dracula, Helen Chandler’s Mina is safely bundled up in a gown that bares no significant flesh. Compare the two photos below to see what a dramatically different approach the two films took.

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And unlike the vivacious Tovar, Chandler’s Mina seems more like  a hungry chipmunk eying a walnut. Her attack isn’t even shown, we are just treated to an off-screen cry of shock from the effeminate David Manners.

It’s tempting to blame the difference in approach to the relative liberality of English-speaking versus Spanish-speaking markets. However, 1931 Hollywood was hardly awash in restraint. This was several years before a whole series of sexually frank films created a backlash that ended in the Production Code finally being seriously enforced.

Rather, I would blame Tod Browning for yet another failure in his execution of Dracula, along with his under-utilization of sound, and his over-reliance on the original stage-play material. David Skal, in The Monster Show, speculates that Browning’s auto accident in 1915 may have left him sexually damaged, which might explain his indifference.

Either way, let’s celebrate Lupita Tovar as the first sexy screen vampiress, worthy of  consideration along side such stalwarts as Ingrid Pitt, Anne Parillaud, and Catherine Deneuve!

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