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Count Dracula's Great Love (1973) - Blu-ray Review

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Count Dracula's Great Love (1973) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersI originally saw this b-movie under the creepy title of Cemetery Girls.  And, yes, there are quite a few girls in it – Karen (Kaydee Politoff), Senta (Rosanna Yanni), Marlene (Ingrid Garbo), and Elke (Mirta Miller) – that Dracula gets to “taste” as they succumb to their new roles as his mistresses of doom.  They are often without clothes and often feed off of one another and, ironically enough, they aren’t at all creepy.  It was a tough watch, though; the VHS tape was ragged and worn and the image was very, very grainy.  

But that was then.

Now, Count Dracula’s Great Love gets the respect it deserves (starting with its correct name), especially in this uncensored version, newly scanned & restored in 2k from the 35mm internegative, from Vinegar Syndrome.  All of which merely adds to the overall surreal quality of this unforgettable tale of Dracula’s first true love and the resurrection of his daughter.

Short and stocky, Paul Naschy is hardly considered your typical pick to play Dracula.  Werewolves.  Monsters.  Satan.  Yes, of course, his dark looks would work for those creatures.  But donning a cape?  That would be difficult to pull off.  Dracula is a role usually reserved for the tall and lanky actors out there in Gore Land.  But in 1973, with Naschy as Spain’s go to guru for all things horror, all bets were off.  No one would dare doubt the power of the Naschy.  And, yes, he WOULD be sinking his sharp fangs into young girls’ necks.  Thankfully, the resulting movie would go on to be one of the most original tales in the character’s cinematic legacy. 

One wouldn’t expect this European production to be as sensitive as it is when it comes to its portrayal of Dracula.  Yet, it is.  The film does some interesting things throughout its 83-minutes, but is so well put together, in spite of its flaws, that it’s a damn near shock in HD.  Some of the guests at the castle fall for Nashy, who when not hiding in the dungeon as the virgin whipping (and licking) Dracula, tramps around the house as the genial Austrian physician, Dr. Wendell Marlow.  Some are unimpressed.  Some just want to get the hell out of there.  Get the carriage wheel fixed already!!!

Flexing his auteur muscles, director Javier Aguirre stepped up to helm this production and wound up subverting the horror genre with a tale that is both monstrous (Dracula whips and nips!!!) and dazzling.  Count Dracula’s Great Love is an intimidating take on the fanged one’s legacy.  It is a bold and articulate film that dares to present Dracula in a very different manner.

And it begins when five travelers, four women and one man, find themselves without an operating carriage as they travel the Carpathian Mountains.  Hold up, though.  Before all this, there is an A-MAZING scene playing out over the credits as Dracula, in the shadows at the top of a set of concrete stairs, accosts two thieves.  He’s pissed and they are soon dealt with and tossed down the stairs.  Rolling.  Rolling.  The scene replays and actually becomes part of the movie (toward the very end).  Rolling.  Rolling.  It’s a curious moment, spooky and unsettling, and it is the first to suggest that this version of Dracula – being very European and open to interpretations – is going to be unlike those seen before. 

Naschy is a HUGE Universal Monster fan and everything he does – as an actor and a screenwriter here – is full of honor and respect toward Lugosi’s original performance; however, Naschy, as only he can, makes this version of Dracula much more sympathetic and, dare I suggest Byronic than others have interpreted the role to be. 

Here, with a cast as gorgeous as this one, it is to be expected that the sex would be amped up.  There’s not a bosom left clothed or a butt cheek unexposed.  As a result of all the nudity, the gore is also cranked up.  The bite wounds at the neck are constantly leaking blood.  Never grotesque, mind you, but the blood has definitely been elevated here. 

Complete with fake bear trap wounds and some flimsy costumes, Count Dracula’s Great Love stages itself with solid lighting and a moodiness that is both haunted and dreamlike.  It crosses into the bizarre toward its final moments, making the sudden violence more shocking than it really is.  And Naschy, in a melancholy performance, delivers a humble performance as THE terror of the twilight virgin.

Count Dracula’s Great Love is indeed a revelation on blu-ray.

Count Dracula's Great Love (1973) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: unrated
Runtime:
85 mins
Director
: Javier Aguirre
Writer:
Javier Aguirre, Alberto S. Insúa
Cast:
Paul Naschy, Rosanna Yanni, Haydee Politoff, Mirta Miller, Ingrid Garbo, Alvaro de Luna
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Sharing his hunger for female flesh was his thirst for human blood...
Memorable Movie Quote: "Leave that girl alone!"
Theatrical Distributor:
International Amusements Corp.
Official Site:
Release Date:
March, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 27, 2016
Synopsis: After their carriage breaks down and their driver is killed in a freak accident, a group of young women are forced to spend the night in a strange and isolated former sanatorium, which has just been purchased by the secretive Dr. Marlow (Paul Naschy). Unbeknownst to the visitors, Dr. Marlow is actually Count Dracula, and stalking the sanatorium are his recently turned vampire slaves. Soon the guests begin to be attacked by the ravenous bloodsuckers, while Dracula sets his sights on the beautiful virgin Karen, deciding to offer her his hand in marriage...

Count Dracula's Great Love (1973) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
Available on Blu-ray
- September 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Vinegar Syndrome’s handling of Count Dracula’s Great Love looks incredible on 1080p.  It has been scanned & restored in 2k from 35mm interpositive.  The black levels have depth now.  Important because of all the dungeon scenes and the above ground entertainment is clean and visually complex.  Black levels are consistent and solid and shadows are a bit more defined than previously seen.  The color spectrum is warmer and, as there are now noticeable details in clothing, very much appreciated.  The sound is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  The commentary track with director Javier Aguirre and lead actor Paul Naschy is moderated by Angel Gomez Rivero and features some great information about the shoot and its legacy as one of Naschy’s best works.

Special Features:

Vinegar Syndrome provides fan with a lot of good supplemental material.  Mirta Miller weighs in on the film and the 8-page booklet by Mirek Lipinski is both fun and informative.  We get both the English dub and original Spanish language soundtrack and a still gallery.  Also included with the release is a DVD copy of the movie and reversible cover artwork.  English and Spanish subtitles are also offered.

  • Mirta Miller Interview
  • International Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Count Dracula's Great Love (1973) - Blu-ray Review

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