“Andy Warhol’s Dracula” (1974)
Studio: Bryanston Distributing
Starring: Udo Kier, Arno Juerging, Joe Dallesandro, Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry
Directed by: Paul Morrissey
Running Time: 103 min.
Synopsis: Count Dracula and his servant set out for Italy to find a virgin bride for the Count.
When I first saw Andy Warhol’s Dracula it was either late 1987 or early 1988 on USA Network’s Night Flight. I had seen Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein a week before on the same program and could not wait to see the Dracula one. Around this time in my life I was just getting into horror films and searched high and low on all the TV stations for horror movies. I found a bunch on USA Network that filled that need and both Warhol’s Frankenstein and Dracula were just what I was waiting for.
When I saw Frankenstein I thought it was very bizarre and had a lot of graphic violence. Even though the most graphic scenes were cut out because it was basic cable, it still showed a lot for that time. The following week when I saw Dracula I was treated to another bizarre film that had tons of violence and gore. USA even showed the scene where Dracula played by horror vet, Udo Kier gets his arm chopped off with an ax. Then he gets his other arm chopped off followed by his legs. This scene has always stuck with me whenever this film was mentioned. I also noticed the same lead actors that were in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein were in Dracula like, Kier (who was Dr. Frankenstein in the other film), Arno Juerging (who plays Dracula’s servant), and Joe Dallesandro, who has been in many other Warhol productions.
The film is also known as Blood for Dracula and is about an old dying vampire, Count Dracula, who needs the blood from a virgin to continue living. His servant, Anton (Juerging) suggests that they leave their home of Romania and go to Italy to find him a virgin bride. The two are traveling by car, with the Count’s coffin placed on the roof of the car and telling anyone who asks that it is a dead relative who they are burying in their homeland and no one is the wiser.
The two make it to a small town in Italy and find out that there is a family with four young daughters who might be willing to marry the Count because the family has come into some financial trouble. The Count and his servant are invited by the family to stay and are pleased that the Count wants to pick one of their daughters for a bride. He lets them know that his new wife must be a virgin because of his family’s religious beliefs. The handyman of the family, Mario (Dallesandro) suspects that the Count is not here to take a wife, but wants something else from the girls.
The film is an interesting take on Dracula where some things are very different from other Dracula films, while other factors stay the same. In this film Dracula is a very fragile person and not very menacing like the character is portrayed in other films. Dracula hides his old age by putting make-up on his face and dying his hair. At times he cannot even walk and has to use a wheelchair. Even though this is not the typical Dracula we are used to seeing, Kier pulls it off and at times you feel very sorry for him and it is a different look for the character.
Other differences with the Count are some of the rules of a vampire. Dracula still needs blood to live, but only a blood of a virgin. Non-virgin blood will make him sick. The Count can go out in daylight, but the sun does bother him a bit, but is not fatal. Dracula is very whiny throughout the film. He complains about everything from the food at the Tavern to the room they have at the Inn. Also Anton is more of a boss to Dracula than a servant. Anton tells the Count what to do and when to do it. This character is very different from what Juerging played in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. In that film he was an idiot assistant, but in Andy Warhol’s Dracula he is very strong willed and controls the Count in some ways. Both Kier and Juerging give great performances.
They are many things that stand out in this film like the score composed by Claudio Gizzi. Gizzi did a beautiful musical score that captures the mood of the film and the pain of Dracula. There are plenty of unusual moments in the film that make the film what it is. Both Count Dracula and Anton always speak very loudly and often sound very rude even when they are telling someone thank you and they shout as they are saying it. These over-the-top performances are very memorable and make the film the campy cult classic that it is. Also the funny way Dracula and Anton pronounce virgins, which is “wirgins” is hilarious at times. It is not meant to be funny, but the way they say it with their accents cracks me up.
There is also an odd scene where Dracula is going up the stairs after arguing with Mario and the Count starts to shake and falls to the floor because of his weaken condition. Mario just stands there staring at him and looks very sad and almost looks like he is about to cry. Dracula is able to pick himself up while Mario just watches on and does not help him. It is just a very odd scene that you have to see to really see how odd and strange it is.
Some other interesting things about the film are it was shot the same time or right after Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, which is why the same lead cast members and crew are used for both films. I believe Warhol was just a producer on the film and really had nothing to do with the production. I think they just slapped his name on there to help with promotion of the film. Roman Polanski makes a cameo in the film in a scene in the Tavern. He was shooting a film in that area, so they got him in the film in a small role.
Andy Warhol’s Dracula, a.k.a. Blood for Dracula is a great cult classic from the 70’s and if you have not seen the film it is worth checking it. Also if you see Dracula you also need to see Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, a.k.a. Flesh for Frankenstein. Both films are great and are best to watch back to back. So, check out both Andy Warhol films for his weird strange take on classic horror.