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The Criterion Collection presents
Blood For Dracula (1974)

"The blood from these whores is killing me!"
- Count Dracula (Udo Kier)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: July 02, 2000

Stars: Udo Kier, Joe Dallasandro
Other Stars: Arno Juerling, Maxime McKendry, Vittorio De Sica
Director: Paul Morrisey

Manufacturer: Nimbus
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Nudity, suggestive scenes)
Run Time: 01h:43m:00s
Release Date: December 15, 1998
UPC: 715515009522
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB-B+ B

DVD Review

In 1974, director Paul Morrissey created a pair of horror films based on the genre's two most famous monsters, Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula. Produced (and "presented") by Andy Warhol and shot back to back, the films feature identical principle male cast members Udo Kier, Arno Juering and Morrissey staple Joe Dellasandro. They are hardy satires of the horror genre, infused with humor, sex and gore. In Blood For Dracula, Morrisey expands on the age-old battle between vampires and humans by also examining the decline of the social class and moral values.

Right off the bat, Morrissey sheds any tradition of the vampire film and makes a statement on the moral values of modern society. Instead of portraying Count Dracula (Udo Kier) as an omnipotent terror, we find him in a state of impending demise, painting color back into his face and hair, and skulking about his estate with his half withered sister, both suffering from an extreme lack of virgin blood. There is a lot at stake (pun intended) as there are no more virgins in Romania! At the urging of his faithful servant Anton (Arno Juering), they lead his sister to the family crypt to perish, and set off for Italy, coffin in tow, where it is hoped the higher Catholic morals will provide virgins for the Count's desperate appetite. Upon their arrival they go to a local inn, explaining that the Count is searching for a virgin bride, and are directed to the Fiori household, aristocrats with possible candidates in their four daughters.

Here again we see Morrissey's take on modern society as instead of the posh estate we expect, we find the house in a state of decay, barren of furniture and with these upper class daughters doing servant's work in the fields. The Count's arrival signals a hope of restoring the family fortunes, and the daughters are willingly offered up by their parents as potential brides, with their purity supposedly intact. Unfortunately, the handyman Mario (Joe Dellasandro), a passionate Marxist, has been busy fraternizing with the two most eligible daughters on a nightly basis. The Count is introduced in turn to each of the daughters, but suffers considerably after falling prey to their deceptions about their innocence, after gorging himself on what he believes is a pure feast. Morrissey makes sure the audience understands the severity of these consequences with a protracted account of the Count discharging this non-virgin blood in an agonising bathroom scene. When the father of the household (director Vittorio De Sico) leaves on business, it is up to Mario to discover the Count's true intentions and save the Fiori household.

Blood For Dracula is a very humorous look at the legend, and the overplayed characterisations of the entire cast add to its unique charm. Udo Kier is pathetic as a Dracula who just can't win. His trusty servant Anton is aptly portrayed by Arno Juering, whose over-emphasis on the Count's virginal requirements are accentuated by his overtly sinister eye gestures. Joe Dellasandro's character has no problem beating or sleeping with his master's daughters while expousing the virtues of Marxism. The Marchese and Marchesa de Fiori (Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry) are the unwitting parents seeking only to regain the social status through the marriage of one of their daughters - watch for De Sica's examination of the count's name - classic. We also get a cameo from director Roman Polanski as a tavern patron who riles Anton with some slight of hand in a drinking game. There is no shortage of flesh in this film, as the Fiori daughters (Dominiue Darel and Stefania Casini) strip down for their nightly trysts, and Morrissey's extended blood vomiting sequence removes any subtlety in the gross out department. Blood For Dracula, while not for the prudish or weak of stomach, is nonetheless a classic in its own right, and a perfect candidate for the Criterion Collection. Also known as Andy Warhol's Dracula.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Blood For Dracula is presented in nonanamorphic widescreen. The image is slightly soft. Color saturation varies depending on the scene, exteriors are generally quite vibrant while interiors are somewhat muted. While contrast in light areas is good, we lose a lot of shadow detail to black. This suits the film, and gives it a decidedly european look. There is some blooming in the red title sequence, but overall the image is solid and relatively free from artifacts either from the compression or dirt and dust.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: An english Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is the only available option other than the commentary track. It is clean and hiss is inaudible. I particularly like Claudio Gizzo's score, which is well presented here. Dialog is clear, despite the accents of the cast.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Paul Morrissey, star Udo Kier, historian Maurice Yacowar
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills gallery/slide show
Extras Review: The commentary track provided is worth the price of admission alone. Here we have director Paul Morrisey along with star Udo Kier discussing the many aspects of the production, and giving us insight into the making of this film and Flesh For Frankenstein. Film historian Maurice Yacowar's comments interject more historical and insightful information about the film and script. Edited, as many Criterion commentaries are, there is no dead air or pauses in the commentary, and the subject matter moves along nicely. Also included is a still gallery presented in slide show form, set to exerpts from Claudio Gizzi's score. This is tasteful and a lot less work than clicking through screens. Both of these features are directly ported from this film's laserdisc predecessor. An essay on the film is included on the four page insert booklet. Menus feature simple transformations between images from the film, and again are very tasteful, set to the theme from the film.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

While the frequent nudity and level of occasional distasteful visuals eliminates an across the board recommendation, those with a stomach for a humorously satirical stab at Dracula will find this entertaining. This and its companion piece, Flesh For Frankenstein, form a very unique pair of cinematic experiences, and both are worthy of repeated viewings. The commentary is very well done and allows novice viewers to pick up on many facets and details of the film that one might otherwise miss. For those that enjoy this type of film, it is highly recommended.

 


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