Halloween Endurance Test: Blood for Dracula (1974)

Leave it to Andy Warhol. Just a mere week ago, I was complaining to a friend about how Entrails of a Virgin mixed up the all-important sex/violence ratio. With too much sex, and not enough gore. Yet here I am watching Paul Morrisey’s farcical Blood for Dracula, and enjoying every minute of it.

Udo Kier plays the sickly and wheelchair-bound Count; who’s desperately seeking a virgin bride who’s blood will cure him. As the Dracula family name is too well known in Romania, the Count travels to Italy and meets the Di Fiore family. He meets Marchese Di Fiore (Vittorio De Sica), himself a struggling aristocrat, with four eligible daughters: Esmeralda (Milena Vukotic), Saphiria (Dominique Darel), Rubinia (Stefania Casini), and Perla (Silvia Dionisio). The Marchese hopes to marry one of them off to the Count, and reverse his family’s failing fortunes.

(Nerd Alert!: one interesting trip tidbit is as the Count travels, his coffin is strapped to his car’s roof. When questioned, he explains that it contains the body of his dead uncle; a la the famous “Dead Grandmother” urban legend.)

Unfortunately for the Count, Di Fiore’s daughters aren’t as innocent as they seem. They a.) have no interest in wedding the foreigner, and b.) aren’t virgins at all. Both conditions owing to the Marchese’s handyman, Mario Balato (Joe Dallesandro). Warhol superstar and Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers cover model, Dallesandro is the scene-stealer; with his New York accent serving as a stark contrast to the rest of the cast’s halting European-tinged English. He preaches class warfare when he’s not bedding the ladies; forever wondering what separates him from the aristocratic Count.

Mario is the natural foil for the Count, as his Communist leanings already make him suspicious of Dracula. This creates a masterful parallel that runs throughout the film. When Mario beds one of the ladies, they come to life; arguing with him and otherwise asserting their strength. When Dracula feeds off them, however, they end up as the Count is, sickly and ill.

These feedings also bear Warhol’s unmistakeable stamp. When he’s feeding, a red light is shone on Dracula’s head; creating a crafty, cheap, and yet still evocative effect. Immediately after feeding upon one of the “experienced” daughters, the light changes to green, and is followed by the Count comically vomiting up torrents of blood.

This constant poisoning with non-virgin blood makes the Count sicker, as well as peaking Mario’s interest. Thus creating the smallest chase scene ever enacted on camera. With the Count hurriedly trying to find which of the Marchese’s daughters is still a virgin, while Mario tries to sleep with all the girls to protect them.

This might be the only film in history where someone gets raped to be saved. Certainly the only film where Dracula is caught slurping hymen blood off the floor. Never mind that the protagonist (Mario) is regarded by all the other characters as the villain.

Leading to the greatest slaying in horror-dom. Before Dracula gets staked, he’s dismembered piece-by-piece, by the axe-welding Mario. A la Monty Python’s Black Knight, the Count stays defiant every step of the way, hissing and baring his fangs after he loses both arms.

Completely great and over the top, the same as the rest of the film.

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