Monday, November 23, 2009

Blood For Dracula

Andy Warhol's 'Blood for Dracula' (1974)
Udo Kier in Blood for Dracula (1974)
While Andy Warhol was raising the money to shoot Paul Morrissey's outrageous 3D Frankenstein film, Italian producer Carlo Ponti suggested that Morrissey do a Dracula film as well, so he did.

As with Flesh for Frankenstein, Blood for Dracula was shot in Italy using many of the same cast, including German actor Udo Kier. With his lunatic, over-the-top intensity, Kier was perfect as the sinister Baron Frankenstein and the frail, anemic Count Dracula. Dracula wasn't as gruesome as Frankenstein, however what it lacked in shock value was more than made up for by its sly wit and Claudio Gizzi's haunting score.

Blood for Dracula (Criterion Collection Spine #28)As with Frankenstein, director Morrissey again upended convention with his tragi-comic reinvention of Dracula as a pitiable creature whose frailty confines him to a wheelchair. It seems that Dracula needs the blood of virgins to live, and Romania is in short supply. Dracula's Renfield-like assistant, Anton (Arno Juerging), fearing for his master's health, arranges a trip to Italy on the mistaken presumption that the predominantly Catholic country will be swarming with virgins. Dracula learns otherwise: every time he bites a girl who isn't a virgin, he becomes violently ill, the third repetition of which leads to Kier's comic exasperation as expressed in the film's most infamous line, 'Ze blood of zese these whores is killingk me!'  

Dracula is eventually run to ground, of course, and when he's finally caught, his death scene is easily the goriest--and funniest--in the long, gruesome history of Dracula films.



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