10 things about Son of Dracula

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1-Apparently it is okay to call the film what they did even though it is not about Drac’s son.

2-John Carradine pulled off the mustached Drac look better than Chaney does.

3-Materializing out of smoke looks easier than it probably is

4-Apparently Dracula wears a cape wherever he goes.

5-Every area where vampires show up seem to have a local “occult expert”.

6-This film is slow at times, but there is just enough suspense to keep it going.

7-Making Chaney’s Dracula have super strength was a plus.

8-Louis Allbritton is great as Katherine.

9-Despite having a little less action I like Universal’s Dracula films better than their Frankenstein films.

10-Next time Dracula needs to go by a more clever name than Alucard.

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Curse of the undead

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The preacher must be expecting a rough crowd at church today.

 

1959

Howdy, partner welcome to the horror western. This rich rancher is being mean to other ranchers and ruling over the town. He is being particularly rough on one family. The father of said family is found dead (who is also the town doctor) and even though the rich rancher denies having a part in it the doc’s son goes after him. Of course the hothead son gets gunned down by the rich rancher. With her dad and brother gone the daughter puts up a poster advertising hiring someone to kill the rich rancher. The local preacher tells her this isn’t the way to go. A gunslinger in black (isn’t that always the color of choice of hired guns) shows up in response to the ad. He is smooth, steady and a vampire. Wait I don’t remember blood suckers ever showing up in Gunsmoke. Anyways she agrees to hire him to kill the rich guy, but rich guy gets scared and asks the law for help. Eventually the preacher talks the daughter into not hiring the vampire/gunslinger. If that happened the movie would end quickly so the vampire uses his mind powers to control the woman. Eventually the preacher knows something is up with this guy. The vampire kills the rich rancher. The preacher takes matters into his own and challenges the vampire to a gunfight and beats him?! Oh wait he took hit cross pin and molded into a bullet and that’s how he killed the blood drinker. Roll the credits.

The negatives-Vampire fans always get the undies bunched up over this film because it breaks some rules. The vampire walks around in daylight a lot. Also it’s explained that he became one of the undead because he took his own life. That explanation doesn’t go along with traditional ways of explaining how one became a vampire.

The positives-The cast is solid all the way around. It’s a basic western tale with a twist and it works for the most part. This is a bit of an overlooked gem that really needs an official DVD release.

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I go sleepy time now.

 

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Wake up the movie isn’t over yet.

Taste the blood of Dracula

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Is he making one of those alka seltzer volcanoes?

 

1969

So at the end of the previous film old Drac fell onto a big nasty cross. What a clumsy oaf, no wonder he always got beat. Then his body turned to powder and this greasy type guy managed to be right there to scoop it and Drac’s ring  up to sell at a gothic style flea market or some such thing. Later we meet some grumpy and strange guys who tell their families they are off to do volunteer work. In reality they are off to hang out with other woman and do non-family type things, oh the sham and horror. Enter this young guy Lord Courtley with no money but a lot of nerve as he takes these guys woman from them. Later he talks the old guys into buying Drac’s dust and possessions so they experience real evil. So far this film is just about a bunch of nasty people with no redeeming qualities, kind of like most popular TV shows these days. So the old nasty guys shell out the money and buy this crap. Young dude takes them to do this ritual, but when comes time to drink blood out of a goblet they get all huffy and beat the snot out the young guy and leave him there all dead like. Come on, it was just blood-well that is kind of gross I guess. He may have been a cocky, pushy scum but he was loyal to Dracula and now Dracula pops back to life and swears he’ll get revenge on those who killed his follower. So now a Dracula  film that didn’t have Dracula for the first third turns into a revenge movie with the lord of darkness trying to get even on people that have so acted worse than he has. So old pointy teeth uses his powers of persuasion and his evil eyes to command the offspring of the old guys and kills them one at a time. Drac takes a liking to young Alice, but eventually she and her mutton chopped boyfriend use the power of the Lord to bring our cape wearing vampire down for the count (pun intended of course). Roll the credits.

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“Who wrote Dracula sucks?”

The negatives-The script is overall just alright. You’ll spend quite a while waiting for Drac to appear.

The positives-The cast is solid, the film gets going once Dracula show up and I like that it’s a change from the old hassle at the castle type Dracula film. Good to see him stretch his cape out into different surroundings.

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My sideburns shall keep you warm.

Scars of Dracula

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1970

This one frequently gets ripped to shreds even by or particularly by Hammer fans. It would be the last Dracula film that Hammer would do in a gothic setting. So let’s see happened here. This short flop haired guy who likes woman and he may do okay with them, but his luck on this night is just awful. To avoid the law he flees town and one wild event after another transpires then eventually he ends up at Dracula’s castle running for his life aieeee. So then his flop haired, not so bright brother and his girlfriend go looking for floppy hair number one. They run into a bartender (Michael Ripper steady as always) and a bunch of floppy wigged goons who run them out of town. You see they lost all their women folk early in the film to Dracula so now they just hate everyone who mentions vampires, Dracula, the castle or kitty cats well not kitty cats, but yes to the others. Anyways of course flop hair # 2 and his girlfriend end up at the castle dealing with Dracula (a very pale and bored looking Christoper Lee) and his weird as all get out servant Klove (Patrick Troughton). Drac seems nice at first but hey we’ve this before he just wants the girl. Flop hair # 2 is just a little smarter than his brother. Drac gets his girl briefly and he discovers his brother has a big hook sticking through what used to be his chest-aw so sad. So eventually there is a final fight in front of a cheap as dirt backdrop classy, realistic looking edge of a castle. Dracula picks ups a metal rod and impales the lame hero and his girl in a grisly manner with blood gushing everywhere. Everyone chants Drac-Drac-Drac! Yeah, right the vampire never wins in these. What really happens is lighting hits the metal rod and old pointy teeth or at least his stuntman catches on fire and jumps off the ledge to his death- yaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! The goody goodies triumph and roll the credits.

The bad-The production values are pretty crap in many aspects this time around. We see strings on the bat, the stunt man’s mask in the fire, wrinkles in the backdrop, the day for night is worse than films that Hammer did ten years prior. The story is run of the mill. Christopher Lee seems ready for the film to end as soon as possible. The holes in logic-vampire girl getting stabbed by Drac, Klove letting in nasty villagers just because they say they have something for him and other slips.

The good-It’s a gothic Dracula from Hammer and that always appeals to me. It has an overall decent cast. There are some good items visually, the castle, the valley below, the gore effects on flop hair # 1 and others.

It’s far from Hammer’s best but I tend to like it more than most people. The fact that it was one of the first I saw in the series may help as well.

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Monster Fighting 101 – Vampires: The basics

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So what do you need to fight a vampire?

First you probably need more intelligence than most of the people in most horror films. You know they so frequently try to take on these creatures of the night well at night. So common sense as far as vampires go you should take on these fanged fiends during the day while they sleep. Of course the tough part there is finding the coffin or lair. I mean not all vampires are as dopey as Lugosi’s Dracula in this department because he jumped into coffin with his foes behind him and you know they just opened it up and staked him.

That leads to weapons to battle these batty beasts with. The stake seems to be the most powerful one as in most cases a wooden one can kill a vampire if driven into the heart. Of course there again you have to find him and unless it’s during the day he/she will likely be stronger than  you. So they aren’t going to just let you poke the stake into them for fun. So you’d have to weaken them some first or catch them off guard.

Lesser tools to battle vampires with-

The cross-Fright Night tells us you have believe t0 use one of those. So going to church or praying at least may help your vampire fighting skills wooowhoo.

Holy water-This one doesn’t show up as much as some of these others, but it has been said it’s supposed to have a blessing said over it by a priest. So yeah if you can do that I guess it’s okay. Although I wouldn’t tell a priest ” bless this because I may need it to fight off a vampire some day”. I also don’t know if blessings on holy water have an expiration date or not.

Running water- Some vampire lure says these mighty beings can be beaten by running water. It worked on Johnny Alucard in Dracula A.D. 1972 but  he seemed to be the clumsiest vampire ever. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this solution.

Garlic-So is the power from the plant real or not? It seems a little too easy that all you got to do is buy some of this at the grocery store and you can fend off a blood draining monster. It is kind of cheap in price though. So it may be okay to have on hand although not literally as it my drive off other non-vampire type  beings as well.

So there are some basic ideas for taking on vampires. I may do some more in this series and knock out some more monster fighting techniques and weapons for other monsters in the future.

Ten things I learned from Dracula-Prince of darkness

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To wrap up Hammer week here is one more topic.

1-Some times Dracula is fed up with talking and he just growls and hisses all the time.

2-Don’t trust servants named Klove.

3-Next time if you have to choose between staying in a small cabin or the forbidden castle go with the cabin.

4-Frightened villagers are usually correct.

5-The inside of Dracula’s castle always looks different depending on who visits (you do have to see other Hammer Draculas to realize this).

6-If staying in a big castle and being fed and waited on seems too good to be true then you are probably doomed.

7-Frigid women seem to make wild vampires once they get bit.

8-Dracula can’t lure in every single woman no matter how hard he tries.

9-You don’t need to be named Van Helsing to beat Dracula.

10-Shooting holes in the ice and sinking Dracula counts as running water and will defeat the Count (it may be a stretch, but it worked here).

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Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter

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1972 and 1974 are both listed

Young girls are being turned into old women in an isolated village. A former soldier Kronos and his hunchback assistant Grost rescue a young girl Carla who danced on a Sunday  and then tell her they are vampire hunters off on a mission . They then show up at the doorstep of their old friend Dr. Marcus to see what’s up with this youth draining stuff. Meanwhile more girls are being turned old and wrinkly and all that is seen is a figure in black who bites them on the lips to drain their youth. Kronos and Dr. Marcus are lead towards a rich local family the Durwards as possible suspects. The father died and the mother appears in bad shape, she blames Dr. Marcus for her husband’s death. They have two grown kids and the son seems sour while the daughter seems defiant. Around this time their servant hires some guys to go after Kronos with their swords. Hey it’s no biggie Kronos slices them like an onion and moves on. Meanwhile Dr. Marcus gets bit oh, crap. He starts turning younger and Kronos and his assistant have to kill him. That’s not an easy task as they say different vampires have different weaknesses so wooden stakes don’t work but hey what do you know iron kills these kind of youth suckers. So they make a special sword out of iron as Grost fashions one from a cross and adds a mirror sleeve. Meanwhile a townie witnessed Kronos offing Marcus and thinks Kronos is a real bad seed. So this guy organizes other townspeople to go after Kronos which results in them getting their rear ends kicked all over a graveyard. Oh, well at least it gave him a good workout to get ready for the main event. He is now convinced that rich family is behind all of this. So the girl who has been hanging with him goes there pretending to need help and the son and daughter let her stay in their living room. Someone comes downstairs and hypnotizes her. Meanwhile Kronos takes out the servant and sneaks in. He finds an odd mask in the mother’s room so she isn’t really an old hag. Downstairs  Kronos arrives in time to save the girl from being killed by get this the old woman and her dead husband. Seems they have been using the blood from young woman to revive the husband and to make the mother young. Aw and the once dead now alive dad who needs one more youth treatment is also a champion fencer. So he and Kronos go at it in a sword fight all over the living room after Kronos uses the mirror shield to immobilize the  woman’s mesmerizing glare. Kronos eventually kills the guy and the mother turning them both to skeletons and leaving their children to scream and be in shock. The good people ride off and roll the credits.

Stats-

Blind women in a tavern for no real reason-one

Number of 1970’s hairstyles on men even though it’s like a century and a half or so earlier-at least five

Number of old men filling in for girls drained by their youth-At least one, but maybe two

The negatives-Too much dubbing as usual with Hammer, but other than that it’s pretty much on.

The positives-A fine cast including John Carson and Caroline Munro plus a small cameo by Ian Hendry. The film looks great too and I always enjoy the plants shriveling as the cloaked figure walks by. The plot is a good twist on the regular old vampire angle. The action and the ideas of professional vampire hunters are well played too. A great one from Hammer films.

Negatives-

The return of Dracula

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1958

Who’s in this?

Francis Ledderer as Count Dracula posing as Bellac Gordal. He was born in what is now the Czech Republic. He came to America and began working in acting in the 1930’s. Worked fairly steady for several decades. He made quite a bit of money in real estate in California and continued to teach drama for years. He passed away in 2000 at the age of 101 (!). That means he was almost 60 when he did this film, he looks younger.

Norma Eberhardt as Rachel who the count becomes interested. She had a handful of roles around the 50’s and 60’s.

Ray Stricklyn as Tim boyfriend of Rachel. He had over 70 credits spread  over five decades. He was in everything from Perry Mason to Seinfeld.

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Laying down on the job huh?

What’s this about? A group of would be vampire hunters show up and hey the coffin is empty so no vampire to slay-how unfair. Well, the count is on a train reading the funny pages or something until he decides to kill another dude, throw his body off the train, assume his identity and take his tickets to leave Europe and go over to the states. Meanwhile a young woman named Rachel and her family are excited about picking up their relative is coming from Europe. Little do they it’s really Count Dracula-you blood sucking fiend! So Rachel is infatuated with him because he has been to places overseas. Silly girl, silly girl. The Count sets up his coffin in a nearby cave that looks awful clean and well lit for a cave. Meanwhile he’s sucking the blood from Rachel’s blind friend. The friend dies but not before giving Rachel a warning and a cross to use. An investigator show wanting to talk to “the relative” about a body they found thrown from the train. Boyfriend Tim doesn’t trust Rachel’s relative and he shouldn’t. The vampire lures Rachel to his cave where he tries to drain her of all her fluids-ewwww. Tim shows up to fight for his girl and gets Rachel to fight the trance and use her cross. She does and the count falls back off a ledge and gets impaled by a pieceof wood. Eeyoweeyoeeyowee! Then he turns to bones and roll the credits.

 

The negatives-This film has a very low budget and it shows. The acting varies from good down to slightly wooden. The film doesn’t do a lot to advance the legend of Dracula but rather they just change the setting.

The positives-Francis Ledderer does a good job like Lugosi before him and maybe even Chris Sarandon a few decades later of playing the interesting yet attractive older man who lures woman in with smooth methods before trying to put the bit on them. I thought the visuals were generally good enough given the budget and time. The film began a voiceover and some stock footage and I was bracing myself for a rough time, but it turned out to a pleasant surprise. The black and white looks great and even the “oh, golly gee whiz” attitude of Rachel works good for a Hollywood version of the 50’s.

Overall I liked it and will definitely watch it again.

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Sorry for the smoke, but I just had to take my shoes off and rest my tootsies.

John Carpenter’s Vampires

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“Now where did I put that ancient pain in the neck?”

1998

I thought going about my normal route in writing this one up, but that just didn’t seem the right way to go about this. Some movies I enjoy sorting out the plot and for this one the whole time I watched it I struggled with numerous parts as I always have with this film. That’s not to say they don’t do some things right so let me just lay out basic points and then I’ll try to wrap it together.

Five things they did right
1-western setting-both in how it looks and how it feels
2-the opening action scene-not flawless, but way to go after it
3-the weapons-a good mix of traditional ideas with modern technology
4-the whole hierarchy of the vampires-having goons and masters and such
5-Jack’s past story that helps explain why he’s in the line of work he’s in

Five things that don’t work so well
1-the slayers because less likable the more they open their mouths
2-the vampires either look bums or models
3-the best action is early on, after that it’s either nothing, crap or rehash of the earlier parts.
4-the vampires seem less impressive as the film goes on
5-any sense of urgency or tension just didn’t seem as strong as it needed to be

This was a film that I really wanted to like and it opens so well, but then it just weaves and bobs around with a few sparks yet all too many tedious moments. The opening 15-20 minutes had me then it’s like after that they lose my attention by not making me care. I kept hoping it would pick up as it went along but was a bit like sitting in the tub watching the bathwater just sloshing around over and over. So Vampires was kind of like soaking in dirty bathwater..well sort of. It had promise, but not enough ideas to pull it over.

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“Hey, it’s not my fault John Carpenter’s films sucked after the 80’s”

1980’s vampires

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Most decades prior to the 80’s seem to have a combination of classic style vampires films inspired by Universal’s Dracula as well as some takes of putting a vampire into whatever decade was going on. The 1980’s were different as we seemed to see less traditional monsters films in general as slashers were the top genre for much of the decade. What vampires we did were mostly all too glad to poof up their hair and take on an 80’s flair to fit in. In general in the 80’s gothic horrors were gone and so much was taking place in then modern times so any old style monster had to adjust I suppose. Whether this updating worked or no ultimately depended on the script. Whereas something like Fright Night for me was a solid film because despite the initial appearances the vampire turns out to be a monster which is how it should be. The Lost Boys seems to have vampires as misunderstood youths or bad boys depending on your view, but either way these vampires seem to be more sparkle and polish than downright evil monsters. Looking back at vampires in the decade as a whole they often had times fitting, but the decade did see a few good vampire films pop out.