Zoltan: Hound Of Dracula (1977) Dractober Review

This is a real dogs’ dinner of a Dracula movie. It would have been risible nonsense if it had been played for laughs as a comedy but as a deadly serious horror movie, it’s more dog’s egg than dog’s bollocks, and it owes its entire plot to the idea that Dracula once got so hungry, he literally did eat a scabby dog.

When Russian soldiers excavating ruins in Romania accidentally unearth and unleash the servant of Dracula, the excavation also uncovers his dog Zoltan as well. Created one dark night when the pooch’s persistent barking robbed Drac of his midnight snack and the petulant Count decided to have a hair of the dog instead, Zoltan and his master don’t waste a minute of their unexpected resurrection by setting out to America to seek out the last living descendant of the great Count Dracula.

Not only does the movie simply skip over the explanation of how the infamously undead Count Dracula could have fathered any progeny, it also trips over its own stupidity when it identifies Michael Drake (Michael Pataki) as Dracula’s last living descendant…then introduces us to his two adorable children.

Jose Ferrer adds a touch of class playing Inspector Branco, the movie’s Van Helsing proxy, but he’s fighting a losing battle against the tide of cheap, darkly lit night time shoots and a script which is comprised mainly of Dracula’s servant Veidt Smit (Reggie Nalder) saying ‘No, Zoltan’ in an accent so thick you could use it to fill in all the plotholes that abound in this dog-forsaken production.

I’ve rarely encountered a movie where so few characters behave like actual people. I’ve certainly never seen a dog owner so unconcerned with the wellbeing of his own dogs as Mr Drake. Firstly, he plans to take his family on holiday and just leave his dogs behind to fend for themselves after they’ve just had puppies but when he’s finally convinced to take them along for the camping trip and one of the puppies goes missing, he barely lifts a finger to help. Furthermore, he takes almost zero convincing that he needs to kill his dogs after an East European military officer he’s never met tells him to.

His lackadaisical attitude is a little more understandable given it’s never quite clear how dangerous Zoltan actually is. He’s a competent lurker, true and he’s good value in the creeping up stakes but he’s also apparently easily spooked and very reluctant to even confront other dogs. He probably spends more of the movie running away from his canine prey than vice versa. Still, it must be tough to be a vampire when your victims already have pronounced canine teeth.

It does have to be said that despite the obviously limited budget and tacky results, they obviously didn’t skimp on paying for well trained canine performers. Physically, at least, because my favourite cheesy moment is when they film Zoltan yawning but show it in slow-mo and add a ferocious roar to it. Zoltans’ first proper attack, however, is hilarious and ever so slightly concerning, because the dog is clearly thrown at the actor from just off camera. I sincerely hope no dogs were harmed during the making of this production but several dogs were definitely hurled.

The movie finishes on a hilariously inept note as Zoltan and his Drac-pack of hounds close in on our hero while he waits forever for his convertible roof to close. It’s made all the less tense and frightening by the obvious friendliness and playfulness of the doggos despite the dubbed in snarls and growls.

One of the cheapest, stupidest and downright terrible movies I’ve seen, and not just for Dractober, “Zoltan: Hound Of Dracula” deserves to be put to sleep.

2/10 

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