Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Old Dracula (1974)


For about the first 15 minutes of its running time, the British-made horror spoof Old Dracula seems as if it might turn into something amusing. David Niven plays a courtly, modern-day version of the famous bloodsucker. Instead of attacking victims in their homes, he allows tours through his castle, “pretends” to be Dracula, drugs his guests, and discreetly drains their blood via IV tubes. Turns out hes searching for the rare blood type that can revive his undead girlfriend, Vampira. After establishing this passable premise, however, Old Dracula devolves into crass buffoonery. When several Playboy models, one of whom is black, visit Dracula’s castle, the count drains their blood and revives his lady—but thanks to a plasma mix-up, Vampira (Teresa Graves) becomes black. Thereafter, Dracula and his resuscitated companion chase the models across Europe, hoping to find the blood that’s required to “correct” Vampira’s transformation. Sadly, the movie’s cavalcade of insulting stupidity has merely begun. After seeing a blaxploitation movie, Vampira starts talking like a clich├ęd ghetto click, and then Old Dracula gets bogged down in dull melodrama straight out of a Hammer flick: Caddish swinger Marc (Nicky Henson) tries to save his girlfriend (Veronica Carlson) from Dracula’s clutches, even though Marc is (sort of) under Dracula’s hypnotic spell. Alas, none of this is funny. It’s a bummer to see the eternally charming Niven mired in this dreadful movie, which was originally titled Vampira but renamed to piggyback on the success of Mel Brooks’ 1974 smash Young Frankenstein. Niven is the only top-shelf actor in the picture, and the starlets surrounding him (Graves included) are terrible; furthermore, the storyline drags from one repetitive incident to the next, becoming tackier with each passing scene. Ultimately, Old Dracula makes the mediocre 1979 Dracula spoof Love at First Bite seem sublime by comparison. (Available as part of the MGM Limited Collection on Amazon.com)

Old Dracula: LAME

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