Blood for Dracula

08/28/2015 19:15

Film: Blood for Dracula

Year: 1974

Director: Paul Morrissey

Writer: Paul Morrissey

Starring: Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier and Vittorio De Sica



This is a film that I learned about thanks to the Horror Show Guide encyclopedia that I’m working through. They were crediting this there as Andy Warhol’s Dracula. It took research on my end to learn that it also goes by the title of Blood for Dracula. I had seen this movie years ago and now giving it a rewatch as part of my Foray through the Fours.

Synopsis: an ailing vampire count travels to Italy with his servant to find a bride.

We start in the Romanian castle of Count Dracula (Udo Kier). He is with his sister, played by Eleonora Zani, and his servant, Anton (Arno Jürging). These vampires need the blood of virgins to survive. They haven’t been able to feed and it has made them weak. Anton comes up with a plan that they go to England, France or Italy to find a ‘bride’ for Dracula to gain his strength back. It appears in their area that there are no pure-blooded virgins. Dracula agrees to go to Italy.

The journey takes energy. They are set to stay in a local inn, but this upsets the count. It is there they learn about a wealthy family that lives nearby. They are told that this family has four unwed daughters and that they live in the ways of the Christian God. This is their best choice so Anton seeks them out to learn more.

The patriarch of the family is the marquis, played by Vittorio De Sica. His wife is played by Maxime McKendry. We meet the marquess as she is sitting out on a patio with her eldest daughter, Esmeralda (Milena Vukotic). We learn later that she is still a virgin and that she was engaged to be married, but it failed. Out in the fields are the other three. The next eldest is Saphiria (Dominique Darel) and she is a free spirit. She opens her top and exposes her breasts. She is close to Rubinia (Stefania Casini) who follows suit in opening her top. The youngest is Perla (Silvia Dionisio). She tells them to stop what they are doing and yells so her mother can hear. She scolds them for acting so lewd.

While they are out in the fields, we see a worker of the estate walk up. His name is Mario (Joe Dallesandro). He scolds Saphiria for the way she is acting and tells her to cover up as well. Something interesting about him is that he’s a socialist and following the revolution in Russia.

Giving more background about this family is that they are proud and once were wealthy. The marquis lost it due to gambling issues. They no longer have any servants, aside from Mario, and their estate has fallen into disrepair. When Anton shows up with the prospect of the count marrying one of the daughters, the marquess agrees. The big requirement is that the bride must be a virgin, which the mother is naïve in believing in the purity of her daughters. Dracula and Anton are allowed to stay in the manor.

The marquess introduces her daughters to this duo, with Saphiria being the first one to be offered in marriage to the count. We saw though that her and Rubinia visit Mario regularly. They lie, hoping to obtain the fortune of Dracula. They’re not realizing what he is truly after until it is too late.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the story. What is interesting here is that this movie, despite its cult status, is well made. It does come with issues, which seem to me to be budgetary. There is social messages that are underneath the surface that I didn’t remember from the only other time seeing this. This watch is the reason that I’m revisiting movies like this.

Where I want to start would be Count Dracula and his servant, Anton. I like that this sets up the idea that this vampire needs to have virginal blood. There is the hilarious line in the movie about how ‘the blood of these whores’ is killing him. The marquess is either delusional that Saphiria and Rubinia are virgins or naïve. It could be the latter since the only male that could taint their purity would be Mario. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t believe that he would. For me, since there are so many vampire films out there, I’m a fan when they do something different. We get that here with the idea that this variation on the creature needs virginal blood. Esmeralda isn’t selected since she was engaged to be married and it fell through. That makes our count believe that she isn’t a viable option. Perla is too young to be married. We see that if the blood is tainted, it makes Dracula sick, which I like that concept. I also like the angle that he is quite sick to start due to not having fed recently on pure blood. That almost feels like a drug/addiction idea.

Shifting then from there, let’s delve into this family. There are vibes of House of Usher from Edgar Allan Poe here. This family was once proud and rich. They are clinging to the former despite the marquis gambling their money away. It is fitting that Saphiria and Rubinia are free spirits. They expose themselves from the opening sequence with them. They also are engaging in incest while also fornicating with Mario. This seems to be borrowing from when this was made, the 1970s, and incorporating it into the past here. It works for me though. As the family is losing their prestige, we see that the daughters are giving into lust and decadence. Falls in line with their father gambling everything away.

I also want to explore the concept of Mario and his beliefs. He’s a socialist. He is convinced that all the aristocrats are on their way out. Despite working for this family, he mocks them as well. He knows they’re broke and it is just a matter of time. I agree with him about the workers need to rise. My problem is that he’s rude and violent toward women. It makes me despise him. He is supposed to be our hero, but I don’t like him for how rough he is. His political beliefs makes him hate the count which I did like.

That should be enough for the story so over to the acting. The anger toward the class system we get from Dallesandro is good. I just don’t like his character as a person outside of that. Kier is good with looking like this sickly vampire. De Sica is fine in his minor role as the marquis. I did like McKendry and what she is pushing to save her family. She is auctioning off her daughters which feels like what royalty does. Jürging is good as this familiar for Dracula who is trying to save him. He doesn’t have any power given by his role, but he knows how to work the system. Vukotic and Dionisio are good as reserved daughters. Darel and Casini are solid as the two who are ‘modern women’. We see both nude, which is nice. It is interesting that the latter was in Suspiria and I never connected until now. Other than that, I thought the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

All that is left is filmmaking. What shocked me about this watch was how well this was made for the budget. First, I need to say this is an arthouse film. Capturing what they can for the setting in the past was good. I love the castles that are used. Dracula and Anton arrive in a car. What is funny there is this is a modern setting, but with the use of royalty it gives it a timeless feel. The effects we get are solid. I did have an issue with the lack of more blood spray, but it makes sense now that I’m reflecting. What we got worked. I love how sickly they make Dracula look. There is interesting things done with the cinematography. One of which is using a wheelchair while holding the camera to simulate what Dracula is seeing. That was good. Other than that, the soundtrack fit what was needed.

In conclusion, this is a movie that I’m glad I revisited. It is better than I remember. There is stiff dialogue here and there, but that doesn’t ruin it. I like what they’re doing with the vampire and the character of Dracula. There is also good social commentary here about promiscuity, being virginal and about workers revolting against the rich. The acting is solid. I like seeing a young Kier here. This is made well enough. There are minor issues with effects, but nothing to ruin this. Not one that I would recommend to everyone. This is more of an arthouse film, but it is an interesting watch to fans of Dracula, vampires or movies of the era.


My Rating: 7 out of 10