Count Dracula's Great Love

05/13/2019 07:32

Film: Count Dracula’s Great Love (El gran amor del conde Drácula)

Year: 1973

Director: Javier Aguirre

Writer: Javier Aguirre, Alberto S. Insúa and Paul Naschy

Starring: Paul Nashcy, Rosanna Yanni and Haydée Politoff



This was a film that I knew nothing about. I heard about it from Fangoria’s Top 300 horror films that I’m working through. I did find it interesting when I saw that it stars Paul Naschy. I heard about him from podcasts and many of his films are getting reissued due to how important he was to the genre in Spain from the 1970’s. The synopsis of this film is four women spend the night in an old deserted sanitarium on a mountain. They each in turn fall into the evil hands of a vampire.

We start this film off with two porters who are moving a large crate into a sanitarium in middle of nowhere. It has a reputation and one of them is spooked. One of the men wants to open it and the other says that is not what they are being paid to do. Inside they find a casket. This freaks out the one, but the one in charge opens it thinking there will be jewels buried with the dead. Instead he just finds a skeleton corpse. They are then attacked by a vampire.

It then shits to a carriage that is carrying Senta (Rosanna Yanni), Karen (Haydée Politoff), Elke (Mirta Miller), Marlene (Ingrid Garbo) and Imre (Víctor Barrera). He tells them story of the area and of the sanitarium with its history. We are in Romania and there’s thoughts that it used to house an ancestor of Count Dracula. They are faced with tragedy when a wheel comes off of their carriage. Marlene and Imre go to find it. We see that they are secretly in love. Back at the carriage, the driver is killed by a horse and the two of them flee into the wild.

When the couple returns, they find what has happened. They decide to head to the cursed sanitarium as they hear a doctor has taken it over to open it back up. It is there they meet Dr. Wendell Marlow (Naschy). He allows them in and they can stay until the man that is bringing his supplies returns.

Senta takes a liking to Dr. Marlow, but he seems interested in Karen. The women go about searching the castle. It is during this they find a book. It is revealed that Dracula needs the blood of a virgin to bring his daughter back to him. She has to give herself over willingly though. There is a vampire here who turns Imre, who then turns Marlene. As the young women start to be changed into vampires, Karen is left alone and we learn that Dr. Marlow is harboring a dark secret.

I debated whether or not revealing what that secret is, because it is shown in the film pretty early on. I ended up deciding not to and allow those interested to figure it out. It isn’t too complicated. I will say though, I like the idea of the film. It is taking the story of Draucla, which even at this time had been done quite a few times and adding a different element. The problem becomes how it ends though. It is really anticlimactic and I was bothered by that.

Something else about this film is that it feels like a Hammer film, with the sets, the costumes and how everyone looked. I think a lot of that is being it is European and during the 1970’s. The biggest thing though, this one feels a lot sleazier. All of the women are beautiful and we see them all naked at one point or another. I’m not opposed to this, but it does seem like that is really one of the big selling points for the film.

I really wish there was more to go on with the story, but it actually is somewhat boring. They actually kill off all of the characters rather quickly which was shocking to be honest. I think this is a bit of a misstep though as it makes the film a bit boring after the flurry. The ending also really does hurt the pacing with what happens as well. I will be honest, I was disappointed there. There also was the awkward opening credits where we see a character die, roll down the steps and the film shows this on loop behind them. This was really an odd choice as it took me a couple times to realize what was happening.

To the acting of the film, I have to give credit to Naschy. He does have a good look to him and I thought he was fine in his role. It is hard to gauge the acting though, as the copy I watched was dubbed to English so it doesn’t feel like he is speaking. Again I will say that all of the women were attractive in the film and seeing them nude was something that I was definitely fine with. I do have to commend Politoff. I thought she was quite strong which is good for what happens in the film at the climax and into the ending. I do feel that the acting overall is fine for the film, but nothing spectacular.

I will say that effects of the film were fine. I thought the vampires looked good, along with the wounds and the blood. There were some effects though later in the film that I weren’t good at the time and definitely don’t hold up now. I will say that it adds a bit of charm. The demise of Dracula though I did think was solid and well done actually. Other than that, it was shot well and I didn’t have any issues there.

The soundtrack of the film didn’t really stand out to me, but it also doesn’t hurt it. I do have to bring up though that the dubbing wasn’t great. It seems this film was shot like many were in Italy at the time, that there was no sound recorded at the time of filming and just dubbed later on. This tells me that not all of the actors and actresses spoke the same language as well.

Now with that said, this film was a bit rough. It is a shame as I think there are some good aspects to it. Some of the changes made to the story of Dracula are something that I could get behind, but they don’t really do anything with it and how it ended was a disappointment. The pacing of the film really peaks too early and makes the rest of the film a tad boring. I think the acting was fine for what we got. I do have to commend it as most of the effects were pretty solid. The soundtrack of the film really didn’t stand out or hurt the film in my opinion. The dubbing isn’t great either. This is a fun film, but definitely feels like a sleazy version of a Hammer film. I do feel this film is below average though.


My Rating: 4 out of 10