Count Dracula’s Great Love (1974)

Call it El Gran Amor del Conde Dracula. Call it Cemetery Girls. Or Dracula’s Great Love — the title I saw the film under — or Dracula’s Virgin Lovers or The Great Love of Count Dracula. Whatever title you prefer, you’re about to savor a nonsensical odyssey through Spanish vampire madness, a world where someone can fall down the steps for what seems like hours, all women dress like Disney princesses and a girl can step on a beartrap and only get a small scratch.

We start in an old sanitorium, deep in the Carpathian Mountains as two delivery men arrive with a large, heavy man-shaped crate. Of course, you know that that crate has Doctor Wendell Marlow (Naschy) inside it. But right now, this scene is all about these movers casing the joint and trying to steal something, only for one to get hit with an axe and the other to get his throat ripped out and sent tumbling over and over and well, over.

Then, a stagecoach with four women — Karen, Marlene, Senta and Elke — breaks down and forces the girls to stay at Marlowe’s mansion.sanitorium. One by one, the girls are bitten and become part of Dracula’s army of the undead, all with the goal of the head vamp resurrecting his daughter Radna and convincing a virgin — hi Karen — to love him forever before he sacrifices her. 

By the end, Dracula has tired of this lifestyle and decides to kill all of his brides with sunlight. Then, he realizes that he loves Karen and can’t use her to further his monstrous aims, so he kills himself with a stake.

If you’re a fan of female vampires being female vampires — which mostly means them licking blood off of one another and whipping — then Naschy has exactly what you’re craving here. There was a Spanish version of the film that has the actresses remaining modest, while international cuts of the film feature abundant full monty shots of the brides. And there’s also fifteen minutes of footage that no one can locate that supposedly goes even further!

Amazingly, Naschy made this movie, Hunchback of the Morgue, Curse of the Devil, Horror Rises from the Tomb and Vengeance of the Zombies all in the same year.

If you want to see the best possible version of this film, Vinegar Syndrome has a blu ray that features the European unclothed cut of the film, as well as a never released audio commentary track with Naschy and director Javier Aguirre.

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