Blood for Dracula, also known as Andy Warhol’s Dracula and Young Dracula, is a 1974 black comedy horror feature film written and directed by Paul Morrissey and produced by Andy Warhol, Andrew Braunsberg, and Jean Yanne.
The film stars Udo Kier (The Editor; Suspiria; House on Straw Hill; et al), Joe Dallesandro, Maxime McKendry, Stefania Casini, Arno Juerging and Vittorio De Sica.
The film was shot on locations in Italy and was partly improvised, as the filming of Flesh for Frankenstein by the same team had been quicker and less costly than expected. Because director Roman Polański was shooting What? in Italy on a set nearby, he was invited to perform a cameo in Blood for Dracula.
While some Italian prints reportedly give second unit director Antonio Margheriti (Castle of Blood, Cannibal Apocalypse) credit as director of the film, Udo Kier has stated that Margheriti had nothing to do with directing the film. Kier stated that he and the other cast members received direction only from Morrissey, and noted that he never saw Margheriti on the set. As a favour for producer Carlo Ponti, Antonio Margheriti agreed to take credits for free as director for the Italian release in order to help the film get funds from the government. Unfortunately, it apparently ended up as a trial for producer and alleged director, who both lost.
Count Dracula (played by Udo Kier) has a problem. In order to stay strong and healthy, he needs a constant supply of virgin blood. (Or, as Kier puts in, “weergen blood.”) Unfortunately, he lives in 1920s Romania and apparently, there just aren’t many virgins left in Eastern Europe.
However, Dracula’s assistant, Anton (Arno Juerging) has a solution. Dracula just needs to move to Italy! After all, Italy is the home of the Vatican and it’s just been taken over by Mussolini and the fascists. Surely, no one in Italy is having sex! Dracula should be able to find all the virgins that he needs in Italy!
So, Dracula climbs into his coffin and Anton drives him to Italy. Once they arrive, they meet an Italian land owner, Il Marchese di Fiore (played by Italian neorealist director Vittorio De Sica). The Marchese is convinced that Dracula is a wealthy nobleman and he says that Dracula can marry any of his four daughters. He assures Dracula that they’re all virgins but Dracula soon discovers that two of them are most assuredly not. It turns out that, thanks to the estate’s Marxist randy handyman, Mario (Joe Dallesandro), it’s getting as difficult to find a virgin in Italy as it was in Romania!
Though Blood for Dracula never quite matches the excesses of Flesh for Frankenstein, it still taps into the same satiric vein that provided the lifeblood that gave life to Flesh for Frankenstein. Once again, the sets, locations and costumes are ornate. Once again, the frequently ludicrous dialogue is delivered with the straightest of faces. Once again, Udo Kier goes over-the-top as a famous monster. And, once again, Joe Dallesandro plays his role with a thick and anachronistic New York accent though he looks damn good doing it.
Ironically, one of the differences between Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula is that there’s quite a bit less blood in the Dracula film. Then again, that’s also kind of the point. Dracula literally can’t find any blood to drink and, as a result, he’s become weak and anaemic. Udo Kier plays perhaps the sickliest-looking Dracula in the history of vampire movies. By the time that he meets the Marchese’s four daughters, he’s so sick that he literally seems like he might fade away at any second.
As ludicrous as the film sometimes is, you can’t help but sympathise with Dracula. All he wants is some virgin blood and the communists aren’t even willing to let him have that. Blood for Dracula is, in its own twisted way, a considerably more melancholy film than Flesh for Frankenstein. Or, at least it is until the finale, at which point he gets violently dismembered, yet still continues to rant and rave even after losing the majority of his limbs.
Lisa Marie Bowman, HORRORPEDIA – guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
“It’s beautiful and artificial (the actors more like mannequins than human beings), camp and perverse (all spewing blood and soft core frolicking) and plays hosts to a number of visiting celebrities like Roman Polanski and Vittorio De Sica. A cool place to hang out, just don’t take it too seriously.” TF, Video Warriors
“The film is an overt exercise in allegory as every situation (especially the explicit sex scenes), with accompanying dialogue, viciously pounds the stake of social unrest through the heart of the class structure. The events are clearly over the top (as can be found in Flesh for Frankenstein yet they’re strangely satisfying as the viewer quickly discovers this is not just another “monster movie.” Dennis Prince, DVD Verdict
“Andy Warhol’s Dracula is ridiculous, hilarious, bloody, and quite sick. In other words, it has everything you could possibly want from a horror movie. A review cannot do this movie much justice, so don’t take my word for it, see this one for yourselves.” Nerdy Victim, Absolute Horror
Cast and characters:
- Udo Kier … Count Dracula
- Joe Dallesandro … Mario Balato, the worker
- Vittorio De Sica … Il Marchese Di Fiore
- Maxime McKendry … La Marchesa Di Fiore
- Arno Juerging … Anton, the Count’s servant
- Milena Vukotic … Esmeralda
- Dominique Darel … Saphiria
- Stefania Casini … Rubinia
- Silvia Dionisio … Perla
- Roman Polański [uncredited] … Man in tavern
Blood for Dracula was initially released to theaters in a 103-minute version that was given an ‘X’ rating by the MPAA due to its violent and strong sexual content/nudity; it was later cut to 94 minutes and reclassified with an ‘R’ rating for re-release under the title, Young Dracula (to cash-in on the success of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. The original uncut version has been released to DVD several times, though it is now unrated.
Unlike the controversy over Flesh for Frankenstein, Blood for Dracula suffered very minor cuts for its initial UK cinema release and was never listed as a video nasty. It was passed fully uncut for video in 1995 on the First Independent label.
Image credits: Filmscoop
Buy Blood for Dracula + Flesh for Frankenstein from Amazon.co.uk
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