Sunday, 14 October 2012
La Dinastia Dracula (1980) Alfredo B. Crevenna
La Dinastia Dracula was my first Mexican vampire film, and man, I expected more. More atmosphere, more flavor (apart from sombreros and some of the architecture it could just as easily be a slacker than usual Mediteranean offering). More blood (there is very little), more sleaze or even sensuality (there is none), more madness and mayhem (to be fair there is quite a lot of madness here but nothing in the way of creditable mayhem). But despite lacking in most aspects, this awkwardly edited, crudely staged schlocksterpiece is pretty decent entertainment for the most part, a midsection stumble into boredom tries the patience but things get moving again pretty nicely for the finale. The pacing is swift, from the opening execution of naughty vampire Duke Orloff, through multiple attacks and chintzy effects to a grand fiery climax. Duke Orloff's seedily suave successor Baron van Helsing (!) offs men, women and children, has the power to turn into mist, a dog and rubbery bat, can teleport and materialise in a burst of flame, and at one point even appears to have the power of pyrokinesis. He also looks a bit like a washed up Latino Elvis, which is pretty awesome. His consort Madame Kostoff is fairly witchy and malign, though not as attractive, naked or lesbian as I tend to like cinematic witches to be. Both are pretty terrible actors, as are the rest of the cast, but to their credit they handle everything as high drama, one imagines their enthusiasm as audacious ploy to have the material transcend itself though sheer force of will. They don't quite succeed but it's a hell of a lot of fun to watch them try, and they do manage to smooth out the limitations and the confusions, like why does Baron van Helsing sabotage his own evil land grab plan by killing loads of people, and what was hanging a pig from a tree in aid of? Or why is the content largely tamer than even the mildest of Hammer period outings, despite various scenes that seem to indicate quite clearly that it wasn't a film for family audiences? Heck, I've seen stronger Mexican fare from the 60's and even that wasn't exactly striking. Still, I had a good time with this one and I'd say it's worth a watch for undiscriminating fans of oddball period horror trash. Entertaining enough, and sometimes enough is, well, enough.