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  Dracula Sucks BloodlustBuy this film here.
Year: 1978
Director: Phillip Marshak
Stars: Jamie Gillis, Annette Haven, John Leslie, Serena, Reggie Nalder, Kay Parker, John Holmes, Mike Ranger, Paul Thomas, Richard Bulik, Pat Manning, David Lee Bynum, Seka, Martin L. Dorf, Irene Best, George Lee, Renee Andre, Slavica, William Margold
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Sex, Trash
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: At this castle in the desert a car drives up and a collection of people emerge, one of them Renfield (Richard Bulik) who is there to be admitted, for this place is the sanatorium run by Doctor Arthur Seward (John Leslie), a mental hospital where patients can recuperate. Renfield is there because he has a form of mania and has been hearing voices, including that of his "daddy" who appears to be instructing him to do certain things. One of those things is to venture out of his room at night and visit the castle's basement, where he finds a coffin which is the source of the voice he has been picking up; inside is Count Dracula (Jamie Gillis), who once that stake is out of his chest, is ready for action...

Dracula Sucks exists in a number of forms, from hardcore to softcore, and under a variety of titles too, making it difficult to judge which was the definitive version. It all boiled down to whether you, as a viewer, wanted to see a horror movie or pornography, as there were variations with differing ratios between the violence and the sex, though considering director Phillip Marshak had assembled one of the definitive casts of nineteen-seventies porn stars, you imagine few would be wanting to watch them actually act rather than simply have sex with each other. Nevertheless, the horror version did have its fans, though at this remove it was difficult to perceive precisely why that was.

Mainly this was down to the film failing as a chiller, but succeeding as... well, it resembled some kind of experimental art movie, with the low budget showing throughout, at times painfully so, but almost excused by the curious atmosphere of the piece which if not frightening then served up an off-kilter tone. Indeed, if it had not been for the intercourse the characters resorted to this would have been an art film shocker along the lines of Ganja and Hess or Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural, yet for reasons best known to itself the producers saw fit to class this as a spoof when to all appearances it was being played fairly straight down the line as a serious adaptation of Bram Stoker.

Not that they stuck too closely to the plot, but the characters from the source were present and named likewise, even if the Count Dracula of this movie was a lot more interested in sex than he was blood, as were the minions he sent out and created with his bite - to the female victims' breasts, of course, similar to Ingrid Pitt in The Vampire Lovers, surely an inspiration for mixing the carnal with the horrific as much as Stoker's classic novel had ever been. What created that confounding ambience was as much the soundtrack as it was the visuals, maybe even more so, as snippets of dialogue presumably over a Tannoy, MASH-style, tried to be humorous (but failed), and in one seduction scene with doctor John Holmes seducing maid Seka, we could hear the sound of Bela Lugosi in a vintage radio play.

What was funny about that? Precious little, but the weirdness offered in Dracula Sucks, or Lust at First Bite, or Dracula's Bride, or... you get the idea, delivered perhaps the most novelty of all, which was porn stars trying to act as legitimate thespians, to varying degrees of success. Holmes for one barely tried at all, as if unsure even at the point of filming how serious he had to be about receiving a bite to his legendary member, but Bulik, who was not involved in the sex scenes, was unexpectedly impressive in his eye-rolling manner at conveying the madness of his role, cartoonish as it was. There was even a Mantan Moreland impersonating manservant, and he wasn't funny either, as funny peculiar was about all this could muster, and the morbid nature of the plot did not lend itself to eroticism. Definitely a curio, and just as definitely the least of the very late seventies Dracula flicks, it’s now a relic only of interest to the aficionados of the porn chic that marked out the era, no more, no less, though Reggie Nalder as Van Helsing at the point he was also the head vampire in the TV miniseries Salem's Lot was notable.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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