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Image Entertainment presents
Blood for Dracula (1974)

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

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: September 21, 2005

Stars: Udo Kier, Joe Dallasandro
Other Stars: Arno Juerling, Maxime McKendry, Vittorio De Sica, Dominiue Darel, Stefania Casini, Milena Vukotic, Silvia Dionisio, Roman Polanski
Director: Paul Morrissey

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nudity, explicit sexuality, horror gore, language
Run Time: 01h:43m:10s
Release Date: September 20, 2005
UPC: 014381014921
Genre: horror


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

DVD Review

"You must have the blood of a virgin." - Anton

In 1973, director Paul Morrissey created a pair of nontraditional horror films based on the genre's two most famous monsters, with Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. Presented by Andy Warhol, produced by Carlo Ponti and shot, literally, back to back, the films feature identical principle male cast members Udo Kier, Arno Juering, and Morrissey staple Joe Dallasandro. They are hardy satires of the horror genre, infused with copious amounts of humor, sex, and gore. In Blood For Dracula, Morrisey expands on the age-old battle between the vampire and humans by also examining the decline of the social class and moral values. It is a unique take in both style and substance, which may polarize audience response.

Right off the bat, Morrissey sheds any tradition of the vampire film and makes a statement on the morals 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, as there are no more virgins in Romania! At the urging of his faithful servant Anton, 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 the local inn, explaining that the Count is searching for a virgin bride, and are directed to the di Fiore household, aristocrats with possible candidates in their four daughters. Here again we see Morrissey's take on a society in decline, as instead of the posh estate we expect, we find it in a state of decay, barren of furniture and with these upper-class daughters doing servant's work in the fields. For the di Fiore parents, the Count's arrival signals a hope of restoring the family fortunes, and the daughters are willingly offered up as potential brides, complete with their purity supposedly intact. Unfortunately, handyman Mario (Joe Dallasandro) has been busy fraternizing with the two most eligible daughters on a nightly basis, whilst preaching the virtues of his revolutionary passions.

"You are a good girl, aren't you?" - Anton

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 (Vittorio De Sica) leaves on business, it is up to Mario to discover the Count's true intentions and save the di Fiore household.

Blood for Dracula is a very humorous (though low-key) look at the legend, and the overplayed characterisations of the entire cast add to its unique charm. Udo Kier is superb as the pathetic 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 Dallasandro's character has no problem beating or sleeping with his master's daughters while expousing the virtues of Marxism. The Marchese and Marchesa di Fiore (Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry) are the unwitting parents seeking only to regain social status through the wedding of one of their daughters. (Watch for De Sica's examination of the count's name—classic.) There is also a cameo from director Roman Polanski as a tavern patron who riles Anton with some sleight of hand in a drinking game.

The cinematography takes full advantage of the interior settings, oozing an atmosphere paralleling the main character's decay, with a few excursions into a more stylized composition that accentuate the sequences. Claudio Gizzo's score is particularly likeable, elegant yet understated, with a hint of playfullness in sections, perfectly suiting the mood. There is no shortage of flesh in this film, as the di Fiore daughters (Dominiue Darel and Stefania Casini) strip down for their nightly trysts, and Morrissey's extended blood vomiting sequence, or the final confrontation between count and peasant remove 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.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Blood For Dracula saw its first DVD release as part of the Criterion Collection, which was a direct port from their laserdisc offering; a good, but not stellar, nonanamorphic widescreen transfer. This Image rerelease features a new anamorphic transfer supervised by the director, and fans of this film finally have a worthy presentation.

Gone is the somewhat soft and murky appearance. The image is sharp and clear, colors are nicely saturated, and shadow detail is very good. The reds of the title sequence still bleed a bit, and there is a bit of minor print damage—speckling and a few scratches—but the majority is very clean, with only the natural looking film grain present. This is a major improvement over the previous release.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

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, although there is a bit of scratchiness in a few isolated areas. Dialogue is clear despite the accents of the cast, albeit somewhat sibilant, and Gizzo's score comes across nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Paul Morrissey, Udo Kier, Maurice Yacowar
Packaging: unknown keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills gallery with commentary
  2. Screen test with commentary
Extras Review: The commentary track provided is worth the price of admission alone. Director Paul Morrissey along with star Udo Kier discuss the many aspects of the production, and give 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. Recorded in 1996 for the original Criterion laserdisc release, the commentary is tightly edited; there is no dead air, and the subject matter moves along nicely. I love Kier's accent, and could listen to his discussion of "blot," "wirgins," and "wampires" all day. The track is very well done and allows novice viewers to pick up on many facets and details of the film that one might otherwise miss.

New to this release is an expanded stills gallery presented as slide show (24m:50s), featuring a newly recorded narration by the director, which offers a revealing look at how these films were conceived and produced, along with a healthy dose of interesting trivia.

Morrissey also narrates over a screen test (4m:10s) for the original actor he had chosen to play the part of Dracula, who was removed from production at the last minute due to legal problems.

Unlike the Criterion edition, there is no booklet provided.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Outrageous and filled with biting humor, Blood for Dracula offers a humorous, satirical stab at the legend. While the frequent nudity and over-the-top visuals eliminates an across the board recommendation, this and its companion piece, Flesh for Frankenstein, form a very unique pair of cinematic experiences, in production and presentation, and both are worthy of repeated viewings. For those who enjoy this type of film, it is highly recommended, and Image has provided the benchmark in this upgraded edition, which easily merits a repurchase for existing fans.

 


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