Sunday, October 30, 2011

HALLOWEENAGE #30: DOCTOR DRACULA (1978)

I was taken aback and excited about this...


...but then I saw this and said, "FUCK FUCK FUCK!"...


...but this turned out to be a pretty good experience overall.  Al Adamson, director of BLAZING STEWARDESSES and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN, made a pretty good bad movie here with the technical consultation of Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan.  Synopsizing the plot is going to be tough, but let's try: a gang of Satanists in tuxedos include a famous scholar named Wainwright, who is possessed by the spirit of Svengali.  At one of Wainwright's magic shows, he is confronted by a psychiatrist named Dr. Anatole Gregorio.  I doubt I am spoiling anything by revealing that the doctor in DOCTOR DRACULA is a vampire.  And vampires hate Satanists like Satanists hate Wiccans, apparently. 


There are whole other subplots involving dead moms and a girl named Trilby who is a goddess of psychic energy or some shit.  Plus a prostitute who gets turned into a slave of the Satanic grotto/coven, then exclaims, "I feel a lot better about the direction my life has taken!"  This thing is stuffed with good times, from lines like "He can't hear and can't speak, the way he expresses himself is through his magic tricks" to situations like Doctor Vampire answering the door with, "I was just about to go to bed" while wearing a full tuxedo.  It's such energetic nonsense that you won't have time to get bored.


A woman climbs a tree to escape a vampire and a girl possessed by her mom sounds just like Tony in THE SHINING and yet Robert Carradine as head Satanist Radcliff is still the best thing about DOCTOR DRACULA.  He delivers his lines with full-on Heston/Palance gusto, even when he has weird pauses in the middle of them, like he is trying to remember lines.  Even drunk or unprepared Carradine smokes everyone else in the cast.  Every Radcliff scene is a highlight.


The depiction of Satanism here as this weird booster club of middle-aged cranks makes me wonder how much input LaVey had into the finished product, as the Church of Satan allegedly started out as a similar gang of nerdy weirdos back in the sixties and it would seem to damage his mystique and profits to come right out and admit it.  I mean, I think it's cool that old people would get together to worship Satan and talk about "the mace of Lu Dong—Huxley wrote a book about it!", but I could see it going over badly with your typical moviegoing crowd.



This is atrocious and incompetent, but it avoids the cardinal bad-movie sin of putting me to sleep.  I'm actually surprised that it doesn't have more of a reputation, as I could definitely see people who like ROBOT MONSTER or TROLL 2 enjoying this.  Exquisite.


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