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  Zoltan, Hound of Dracula Blood Hound Gang
Year: 1978
Director: Albert Band
Stars: Michael Pataki, José Ferrer, Reggie Nalder, Jan Shutan, Libby Chase, John Levin, Cleo Harrington, Arlene Martel, Simmy Bo, JoJo D'Amore, Tom Gerrard, Bob Miller, Gordon McGill, Al Ferrara, Roger Pancake, Sally Marr, Merryl Jay, Jackie Drake, John Kirby
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Soviet army have recently been on manoeuvres in Romania, which involves blowing up parts of the countryside with tanks, but in doing so they have uncovered a hidden tomb that once belonged, if the names on the crypt are to be believed, to the Dracula family. Local Inspector Branco (José Ferrer) warns that if word gets out about this to the nearby villages there could be panic, so it is agreed to seal them up again, but first a guard is posted inside to ensure nobody enters. However, that night an earth tremor occurs and one of the coffins flies out, opening to reveal a staked body; the guard pulls out the stake, and thus revealed is Zoltan - hound of Dracula!

I would have said Woofula was a better name, but Zoltan it is for this cheapo horror from the Albert Band and sons moviemaking industry. Who knew that everyone in Romania spoke English with an American accent? See, these efforts aren't simply trash, you can learn things too. Anyway, there is one character who speaks with a European voice, and he's Zoltan's half-vampire, half-human assistant Veidt Smit, as essayed by Reggie Nalder, about to embark on the TV miniseries version of Salem's Lot where he played the full-on actual vampire, not some minion. Before you can say bloody hell Zoltan has drained the guard, and he and Veidt have headed off to Los Angeles.

Yes, they're planning a recording career - oh, no, not really, they're tracking down the last surviving member of the Dracula lineage, one Michael Drake (Michael Pataki, who also plays the Count in flashbacks), a psychologist by trade who is unaware of his ancestors and their propensity for bloodsucking. He's a family man, and as we meet him they're all planning a trip away in their Winnebago - they call it camping, but the vehicle is the size of a bungalow with all mod cons. Somehow, it's never explained, the ugly bug Veidt manages to find Drake and starts hanging around outside his house with the devil dog, but their attempts to break in are foiled by the family's Alsatians who cause such a ruckus that the evildoers are scared off.

Yet it's once the cast get out into the Californian countryside that the film shows its true colours: it's not really a Dracula movie at all, it is in fact a revenge of nature movie. You know the type of thing, where a certain type of animal, maybe more than one, goes on the rampage and terrorises a bunch of people? All very in vogue during the seventies, and here it's given a vampire twist as Zoltan begins to sink his fangs into the dogs he finds until by the end of the film there's a veritable pack of the beasts all ready to frighten the life out of the unwary. We know which dogs are infected as they're painted black and a light is shone in their eyes, offscreen, to make them glow in the dark.

That's not to say that Count Dracula is the embodiment of Mother Nature here, he's not even a stand-in, he's merely the force that compels the pooches to turn nasty. When this was first released, the reaction was that it had to be a spoof, and it does have moments of absurdity that will have you chuckling, but all evidence points to it being a wholly sincere production - yes, even that notorious punchline at the end, which I won't spoil but is sure to have you laughing, was intended to send a chill down your spine. Elsewhere, you get to hear Zoltan roaring, an effect arranged by filming the beast yawning then dubbing a lion over it, as whatever credibility the film laid claim to goes flying out of the window. In some territories this is known as Dracula's Dog, but Zoltan, Hound of Dracula has a more majestic sound to it, so you can see why they changed it. Not that it stops the giggles... Music by Andrew Belling.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Albert Band  (1924 - 2002)

American director, writer and producer of low budget movies who worked internationally. Early films like I Bury The Living and Face of Fire gave way to spaghetti westerns, science fiction and horrors like Zoltan, Hound of Dracula and Ghoulies II. His son, Charles Band, also went into the business with Albert's assistance - he set up Empire Pictures which helped to keep the video stores stocked in the eighties and nineties.

 
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