Count Dracula’s Great Love – original title: El gran amor del conde Drácula – is a 1972 Spanish horror film directed by Javier Aguirre. The titular vampire is played by Spain’s most famous horror star, Paul Naschy, the stage name of Jacinto Molina, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Aguirre and Alberto S. Insúa.
The Janus Film is also known as Cemetery Girls (American reissue title), Dracula’s Great Love (US alternate title), Dracula’s Virgin Lovers (UK and Canadian theatrical title) and The Great Love of Count Dracula (international English title).
On September 27, 2016, Vinegar Syndrome released the film as a Blu-ray/DVD combo with the following special features:
- Scanned and restored in 2K from 35mm internegative
- Commentary track with director Javier Aguirre and lead actor Paul Naschy
- New video interview with actress Mirta Miller
- Includes both the English dub and original Spanish language soundtrack
- International theatrical trailer
- Still gallery
- 8-page booklet by Mirek Lipinski
- English and Spanish subtitles
- Reversible cover artwork
- English and Spanish Closed Captioning
Through the thick forest fog, we witness a coach losing a wheel on Borgo Pass (one of the few nods to Bram Stoker‘s novel) and the five extravagantly-costumed travellers setting off on foot to find shelter for the evening.
A local sanitarium is deemed suitable and they are granted a hearty welcome by the owner, Dr. Wendell Marlow (Naschy). The doctor is actually none other than Count Dracula, though it’s of no particular consequence that he goes by this name as this is pretty much the only connection to either the novel or any film with the character. The Count is desperate to resurrect his deceased daughter but can only do so with the blood of a willing virgin bride.
One by one, his female guests meet grisly (not to mention breast-baring) ends until the one virgin, Karen (Haydée Politoff, of Queens of Evil) remains but an unlikely pang of moral conscience leads to a surprising conclusion…
Rural Madrid is not a particularly convincing Transylvania but the gothic stylings of Paul Naschy’s attempt to nail the role of the Count are incredibly heady, from the foggy exteriors to the lushly-decorated crumbling castle. Javier Aguirre was something of a stranger to horror films and it shows – the unnecessarily twisty plot reads more like the rules to a complicated card game, leaving cinema’s most notorious vampire with his wings clipped and, well, rather toothless. To make up for this, we are treated to a greatest hits of bedding and romping, with dashes of claret in a self-aware attempt to fulfil its horror film remit.
The quartet of bodiced lovelies is completed by Rosanna Yanni (Naschy’s Hunchback of the Morgue), Mirta Miller (Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball) and Ingrid Garbo (Murder Mansion), though their ability to act is slightly surplus to requirements, indeed even Naschy is something of a bystander, with no enemy as such, the characters plod around somewhat aimlessly until they fall into bed with the next man/woman.
The sappy Count, when not moping around is beaten up by two far more vicious-looking vampires, their glowing, cat-like eyes a nice touch but not enough to stir huge interest.
Many of the crew on the film had worked on 1972’s violent Western, Cut-Throats 9, including the composer of the score, Carmelo Bernaola, a workmanlike but reliable and long-time collaborator of Naschy.
Although Naschy is most well-known for his werewolf character Waldemar Daninsky, he is also famous for playing most of the movie world’s most famous monsters, from hunchbacks to The Mummy, to warlocks to Fu Manchu – yet here, as Dracula, he seems a little lost, playing the required suave role perhaps for the sake of it and completely lacking the more monster-like passion he was known for.
Without the trusty director of his classic films, Leon Klimovsky, Count Dracula’s Great Love is fun as 70’s Euro-sleaze but a disappointment as a cohesive narrative. Ironically, the film was sometimes shown theatrically on a double-bill with Klimovsky’s The Vampires’ Night Orgy.
Daz Lawrence, HORRORPEDIA
“The film feels like contemporary Hammer films from the same early ’70s period in its utter commitment to violence and sadistic eroticism. However, it’s a bit of a mess in terms of the plot and story, and the whiplash ending doesn’t do much to tie up loose ends. Still, it’s an effective way to pass the time and Naschy fans seem to enjoy it…” Charlie Hobbs, Screen Anarchy
“Count Dracula’s Great Love may be a little slow, but it is punctuated by so many brilliant moments. The story isn’t bad and for its time was an interesting new take on Dracula and vampires while still feeling faithful to the classic movies and Bram Stoker’s original novel. I think it has some of the best vampires of the early ‘70s mainly on account of how they are presented.” Giovanni Susina, At the Mansion of Madness
” …the pace is sluggish and the period clothing straight from the Spaghetti Western costume basket, but Aguirre keeps interest alive with some genuinely oneiric tableaux.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic