Blood for Dracula: Criterion Collection

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Count Dracula (Udo Kier) has the gift of eternal life, but this gift can be taken, should he fail to drink enough of the red stuff. But not just any blood will suffice, as Dracula has to guzzle the blood of virgins in order to remain in the realm of the living. As he isn’t having much luck at the time, his assistant suggests a move to Italy, where the families are more religious and by default, virgins would be more plentiful. I suppose someone forgot to tell Dracula that times change and as such, virgins just aren’t as easy to find as they used to be. But Dracula manages to find a family with four daughters, all of whom claim to be as pure as snow. As he soon discovers, the ladies haven’t been as honest as he assumed, but one of them is a true virgin. He soon tries to seduce them one-by-one, but as he does so, the handyman Mario (Joe Dallesandro) catches on to his game and decides to make sure Dracula’s intentions are not realized. Can Dracula somehow avoid Mario’s wrath and find the virgin before the life is sucked from him once and for all?

One of more unusual additions to The Criterion Collection, Paul Morrisey’s Blood for Dracula is one of more unusual vampire movies, so I suppose the connection is natural. I like this film a lot and was pleased to see Criterion issue the director’s cut, as well as the inclusion of an audio commentary track and other extras. Blood for Dracula sometimes seems like little more than an exploitation picture, but it is much more than that, on several levels. Yes, it has crude humor and a good amount of flesh involved, but it also offers some food for thoughts, thanks to some touches by Morrisey and his filmmaking team. The writing here is terrific and has sparks of genius, mostly in terms of the various colorful characters presented. The characters of Dracula and Mario are especially well developed & executed, used to utter perfection, I think. But if you want to shut your brain off, Blood for Dracula plays as a humorous, unique vampire flick, so no matter what your mood, this picture knows how to deliver. This isn’t for everyone, but fans of horror movies and offbeat cinema simply can’t afford to miss Blood for Dracula, especially in this director’s cut release.

I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies in my time and I have to say, I think Udo Kier is in more of them than anyone else. From the lesser known, cult level ones to the mainstream blockbusters, Kier seems to find his way into tons of vampire flicks. In Blood for Dracula, he plays the title role and is an odd choice, but given the film’s approach, an effective one. He comes across as sickly and desperate at times, which is how it should be here, although most people will expect a smoother, more seductive Dracula persona. I like Kier’s work here and while it is strange when compared to other Draculas, his performance fits the material like a glove. Other films with Kier include Flesh for Frankenstein, Modern Vampires, Shadow of the Vampire, Mark of the Devil, Blade, Dancer in the Dark, and of course, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The cast also includes Joe Dallesandro (Trash, The Limey), Milena Vukotic (That Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), and Dominique Darel (Death in Venice, The Big Showdown).

Video: How does it look?

Blood for Dracula is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. It is a shame this disc was released before Criterion embraced anamorphic transfers, but the image here is still good and bests prior editions. The print used is very clean and has no real flaws to discuss, which is of course, terrific news. The colors look rich and very saturated, but never too much so, as the hues remain as intended. On the same line, the contrast is stark and true, with accurate black levels and no detail loss to report. The image would have been more refined with an anamorphic transfer of course, but as it stands, this is still a very well done and impressive visual presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

I was very surprised & pleased by the included mono track, as it has no real signs of age in the least to mention. I knew it would sound good, but this is as good as a mono track from 1974 can sound, I am sure. The memorable musical score is well presented, while sound effects are also in fine form, as much as mono allows, that is. I had no issues with the dialogue either, as vocals were crisp and always at a proper volume balance. In short, this is a solid overall audio option and for an older mono track, it is a great one.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc houses a well crafted montage of still photos, as well as an audio commentary track with Paul Morrisey, Udo Kier, and film historian Maurice Yacowar. As with most Criterion tracks, the comments were taken from different sessions, but the track never seems disjointed in the least. The movements between the speakers are well timed and in the end, we’re given a lot of insight about the film and the folks who worked in the production.

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