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…