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  Nocturna Queen Of The Night
Year: 1979
Director: Harry Hurwitz
Stars: Nai Bonet, John Carradine, Yvonne De Carlo, Brother Theodore, Sy Richardson, Antony Hamilton, Ivery Bell, Michael Harrison, Norris Harris, William H. Jones Jr, Adam Keefe, Monica Tidwell, Tony Sanchez, Thomas Ryan, Al Sapienza, Jerry Sroka, Irwin Keyes
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Trash, Romance, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nocturna (Nai Bonet) is the granddaughter of Count Dracula (John Carradine) himself, residing with him in their castle-turned-hotel in Transylvania along with various others, such as their werewolf manservant Theodore (Brother Theodore). He lusts after Nocturna and is often inviting her on moonlight hunts with him, but she always turns him down, causing him no end of aggravation, so he is reduced to spying on her in lieu of getting as close to her as he would actually like. But romance is something she has not ruled out, and as she sits listening to the latest soul band the hotel has booked for their evening dances, her attention is caught by the handsome guitarist Jimmy (Antony Hamilton)...

A curious item that may well have been a vanity project for its star Nai Bonet, this arrived at a point in Western culture when everything was turning disco, with seemingly every celebrity who could carry a tune, and quite a number who couldn't, bringing out their own records to cash in on the craze, and no variety show on television without their disco interlude. It somehow epitomised the trashy, glitzy way things had gone, with the superficial reigning across the world, as if there was nothing that couldn't be coped with when you were able to go out dancing at a club for a whole evening - that would make it all better. Yet surprisingly the movies were not quite as fast to latch onto disco.

Which meant aside from the occasional big hit like Saturday Night Fever (exactly like that, in fact) there wasn't a whole rash of disco flicks, leaving the heavy lifting to the exploitation side of the business. Nocturna was one of those, produced by Bonet and she contributed the storyline too as well as starring in the title role, one of two efforts she oversaw to feature herself in the lead (the other was grindhouse gangster drama Hoodlums). This was the one you'd be more likely to see, but even as John Carradine's last outing as Count Dracula it wasn't exactly high profile, something to seek out rather than have it come to you. Yvonne De Carlo was there too, cashing in on her Munsters fame as Jugulia, a partner for Drac who we last see climbing into a double coffin with him.

There were jokes, but they weren't hilarious, with the Count putting in his fanged dentures to lament his aged state (and Carradine's arthritis-twisted hands were difficult to ignore, they really looked painful) for most of his screen time and Brother Theodore's patented doom and gloom aggressive comedy delivered with rather too much venom, as if he was genuinely aggrieved about what his career had taken him to (famously, he had never gotten over his World War II experiences which left him destitute and informed his bleak humour). That said, his Shakespeare line was about the only bit that was funny in the whole thing, as Bonet seemed more interested in dancing, so great swathes of the running time were given over to twelve inch mixes of the soundtrack's tunes.

As all the while Nocturna boogies on down, finding disco is the only thing that will cure the vampirism she is growing tired of, even seeing her reflection for the first time after a bout of grooving. Her new beau was strictly there as eye candy for Bonet to ogle, Antony Hamilton a former dancer himself and model in his day job, though he would go on to a bunch of television appearances before his premature death from an AIDS-related illness. If that makes his role here poignant, that translates to the rest of it as a bygone era of hedonism before it seemed the party was over and the likes of Nai were forced to retire from the scene; here, in spite of showing up in a few movies before this, she demonstrated why she never made the grade as far as stardom went. She certainly had the look, yet her acting was limited to say the least, and she was better suited to the tacked-on sequence where she poses nude while bathing, sort of a less talented Barbara Carrera, with the discofied vampire trappings like blood cocaine and cartoon bats desperate touches to stay relevant and fun. It was dated even before it had a chance.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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