The Dracula Saga (1973)

The problem with being Count Dracula is that your family line will eventually have to deal with in-breeding, which means that your lone male heir is a one-eyed, furry-faced boy Oh yeah — and your daughters may appear to be highly cultured musicians by day, but by night, they seduce any man — or woman — in their path, even priests. Actually, if Leon Klimovsky’s La Saga de los Draculas taught me anything, it’s that I don’t want to be Count Dracula.

If you’ve encountered any Spanish vampire films, you know that for every moment of sheer surrealist glee or breast baring blood blasting scene, you have to deal with long stretches where not much happens. Then again, we kind of specialize in movies where not much happens until the insane end of the film around here.

Berta is the long-lost relative of the Dracula clan who has returned home to the family castle, where all hopes of a male heir are pinned upon her. By the end of the film, she’s full-on bonkers, dispatching her cheating husband who has already consorted with all of her nubile relatives, then wipes them all out while they sleep in their coffins with an axe. Of course, that’s never worked on vampires before, but this film also features blood drinkers walking around in broad daylight.

By the end, she’s delivered her own baby and lied to the Count, who doesn’t struggle when she attacks him. That said, her blood gets all over the baby, who eagerly laps it up, ensuring that the Dracula bloodline will go on.

The print that played at the Drive-In Super Monster Rama was afflicted with a nasty case of vinegar syndrome, meaning that it would run for ten minutes and then fall apart, with credits that weren’t even worth running. That didn’t matter at all — by 2:30 AM I had ingested several strong ciders, some moonshine, some blazing hot slices of Buffalo chicken pizza and perhaps some other things that we can’t legally discuss. As the windows of our car fogged up and my wife slept by my side, I was pulled into the family dalliances of the Draculas.

It has everything you want from a European 1970’s vampire film: Helga Line leading an attractive cast of female blood suckers, some fine gore and even some cinematography that approaches art, mixed with — you guessed it — long stretches where people just talk and listen to some Bach. It’s certainly unlike any vampire film I’ve seen before. That — and the environment in which I watched it for the first time — added to my enjoyment.

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