Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime on Fire!
Blood for Dracula has been on my radar for some time, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on it for a significant reason. I don’t have that great of a track record with anything attached to the name of Andy Warhol. On Letterboxd, I have reserved the ½ star ranking specifically and only for Andy Warhol’s Vinyl, which remains the worst movie I have ever seen. I didn’t hate Flesh for Frankenstein, but still, the burning plastic smell of Vinyl cannot be overcome. Nonetheless, I did finally sit down and watch.
This is going to be a sort of Dracula story, but it’s going to take a great deal of license with the base Dracula story. That’s fine—it’s honestly to be expected, not simply because Warhol was going to put his stamp on everything he touched, but because it’s exactly how the same story gets retold without becoming stale. Our Dracula (Udo Kier) is weak and sickly. His problem is that the people of Romania have learned not to bring their virgin daughters around the Dracula family. Dracula’s faithful servant Anton (Arno Jürging) tells the Count they should head off to Italy. Since it’s a Catholic country, he’s more likely to find a virgin to feed on. Dracula leaves, essentially telling his remaining family to hang out in the vault and die while he’s gone.
We arrive in Italy, with Anton leading the Count around in search of aristocratic families with daughters to spare. They settle on the Di Fiore family as a prime target. They have four unmarried daughters and are also desperate for the kind of money that a wedding to European nobility can bring into the family. The Marchesa (Maxime McKendry) is all for pawning off a daughter on Dracula while The Marchese (Vittorio de Sica!) goes on and on about how the name Dracula sounds like a name that can be trusted.
The problem is the daughters. Oldest daughter Esmerelda (Milena Vukotic) is plain and has remained a virgin to this point. The next two daughters, who are of marrying age, are Saphiria (Dominique Darel) and Rubinia (Stefania Casini). Neither are virgins, since both are attended to on the regular by the family’s remaining servant Mario (Joe Dallesandro) who also happens to be a Marxist. The youngest daughter is Perla (Silvia Dionisio), who is 14 and not of marrying age.
Most of the movie involves Dracula attempting to get one or another of the Di Fiore girls alone so he can quiz them about their sexual history and bite them. When he bites one who turns out not to be a virgin, the blood vomiting is epic and eternal.
No one watches Blood for Dracula for the compelling story or the riveting acting. In fact, most of the acting in this movie is terrible. No, you watch this for the nudity and the gore. There is a lot of nudity here. Saphiria and Rubinia are nude a lot in this film, as is Mario. There’s a lot of simulated sex. The sex is simulated in the sense that it kind of looks like something sexual is happening on the screen, but you soon realize that Mario would have to have a prehensile penis for a lot of this to actually work.
As for the gore, there’s no guts but there’s a substantial amount of blood there’s some decent violence at the end, but again, it’s just blood, no guts.
There is an actual narrative here that works in general, even if it has odd moments. Our Dracula can be out in sunlight (although it pains him) and can even touch crosses and walk into a church, although he finds both distasteful. He doesn’t seem to have many of the supernatural characteristics aside from some ability to control his victims. And, he can even sleep outside of his coffin. His biggest weakness appears to be the fact that if he drinks the blood of a non-virgin, it weakens him terribly. His constant need for virgins (who are immediately turned into vampires when bitten) is the biggest issue he has.
I would love to say that I really enjoyed this movie, but I didn’t. The acting across the board, with the exception of Udo Kier’s scenery chewing, is terrible. It makes no sense for a Italian family to have a servant who sounds more at home in an Italian neighborhood in New York than he does anywhere on the continent. There’s also the rather disturbing matter of Mario’s blunt sexuality. I can deal with the family servant doing the nasty with the two daughters at the same time. I can even deal with those two daughters delving into an incestuous relationship. But Mario saying—not paraphrasing or implying, but actually saying—how much he wants to rape their 14-year-old sister, we’ve gone beyond the pale.
Blood for Dracula is kind of fascinating, but it’s far more blood than it is Dracula.
Why to watch Blood for Dracula: Because Udo Keir is a damn legend.
Why not to watch: Most of the people in this movie are outacted by Kier’s wheelchair.