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  Count Dracula's Great Love Stakes Are High
Year: 1974
Director: Javier Aguirre
Stars: Jacinto Molina, Rosanna Yanni, Haydée Politoff, Mirta Miller, Ingrid Garbo, Víctor Alcázar, José Manuel Martín, Julia Peña, Álvaro de Luna, Susana Latour, Benito Pavón, Leandro San José
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is the late nineteenth century and two delivery men are bringing a large crate to this gothic old building which used to be a sanatarium until the authorities closed it down thanks to unorthodox practices going on behind its walls, including the draining of the patients' blood. Once these two get the crate off their cart and into the mansion, they grow curious about its contents, and their greed overwhelms them so they set about opening it. Inside is a coffin and inside that is a skeleton - no riches are to be found, but the delivery men have just doomed themselves.

Jacinto Molina was the main attraction here, Spain's very own horror star who in the course of his career set out to appear in the guise of as many of the classic monsters as he could, and succeeded to boot. This was his attempt, self-penned, at Dracula, which makes it odd that he spent the first half of the movie in the role of another character, which would either have you wondering why the Count was not in this, or you would be wise to the machinations and catch onto the fact that Molina's doctor character, Wendell, was not all he said he was.

Although visually he and his director Javier Aguirre aimed for the Hammer flavour of chillers, there was a far more romantic side to this bloodsucker than anything Christopher Lee had ever inhabited for the British company, and perhaps to get the audience used to this idea Wendell is more of a reticent loverman than the Count would ever have been. He finds the object of his affection when she and her friends - three ladies, one man - are travelling near the sanatarium and the wheel comes off their carriage, stranding them until someone can come to fetch them (the driver ends up dead and largely unmourned when a horse clonks him with its hooves).

The lady who catches shy Wendell's eye is Karen (French import Haydée Politoff), and soon she is making the first move, politely making herself available to him. How unlike the other friends, who practically line up to be taken in the midnight hour by some fanged creature, not without first doffing their togs of course, and soon there are a trio of vampire brides to contend with, set to work by the Count himself. And he turns out to be... well, you really should have worked it out by now, but Molina pointed the way to the future of the subgenre when he underlined the luvvy-duvvy aspect.

So this Dracula may go around draining the blood of the innocent and unsuspecting, but he's just unlucky in love, although he does have an ulterior motive in that he wishes to revive his own daughter, the skeleton we saw in the prologue. To do this he needs the blood of a virgin mixed with the blood of a mortal woman who truly loves Dracula, which is handy because who knows how long this film might have gone on if Karen was not around? For a Molina movie, this was not one of his more extreme efforts, although there was still a spot of torture and a scene of two of the three vampire brides feasting on a nude victim, but mainly it was the swooning atmosphere we were intended to luxuriate in, even if that castle mansion and its surroundings were looking more draughty and uncomfortable than somewhere you could relax in, for the red stuff or otherwise. The ending was surely unique in Drac flicks. Music by Carmelo A. Bernaola.

Aka: El gran amor del conde Drácula
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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