Those of you who prefer to refer to “The Witch” as “The VVitch” will be delighted to know that you can refer to this curate’s egg of a horror movie as “Blood For Dracvla” if you wish. Be warned, though, that may be the sole appeal of this pretentious, weirdly bucolic spin on the legend of Dracula.
Ailing and infirm, Dracula (Udo Keir) accepts that he must leave his Transylvanian homestead in search of virgin blood which has become locally scarce. Dracula’s loyal servant Anton (Arno Jürging) suggests that they travel to Italy, a notoriously catholic country where, he believes, there will be plenty of virgins to choose a new bride from. Arriving at a farm where four daughters live, Dracula plans on getting his feet under the table and supping on some full-bodied Italian reds but his plan may not be as straightforward as it seems.
Director Paul Morrissey may have intended this as a satire on the decline of modern morals and modern Italy’s drift away from Catholicism but the joke’s on him as this ludicrous, awkward and gratuitously indulgent pantomime of depravity and chianti cruor is so inept, it ends up impaled by its own satirical stake.
The performances from the entire cast are wildly uneven, veering from self-conscious, amateur stiffness to ludicrously over the top histrionics, sometimes during the delivery of a single line of dialogue. There’s artistry aplenty in terms of visuals, and even some authentically horrific and terrifying scenes but they’re ruined by atrocious acting that would feel more at home in a local dramatic society’s staging of “’Allo ‘Allo”.
Of course, it’s unlikely Andy Warhol would have lent his name (and precious little else apparently) had it not had some provocative, avant-garde elements, which the film provides through copious gratuitous nudity, incestuous sexual assault and a plot point of saving a fourteen-year-old girl (albeit played by a 26-year-old actress) by raping her.
The performances are uniformly terrible, although Udo Keir is sometimes allowed to suggest he’d have been able to portray a formidable Dracula in a slightly more conventional production, but there’s no denying he’s the high priest of haematemesis, the unfortunate result of Dracula drinking anything but extra virgin.
Everything culminates in a farcical finale which would embarrass a lacklustre Benny Hill sketch which sees Dracula pursued through the suspiciously stately farmhouse and eventually reduced to an armless, legless thing, years before “Venom” thought of it. A cinematic curiosity at best, a tasteless, vainglorious joke at worst, I don’t mind art for art’s sake but one man’s art is another man’s load of old wank and I think I know which one this is for me.