Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Die Hard Dracula (1998)

My notes on Die Hard Dracula

‘It’s a wonder what good fresh blood can do, especially from sexy girls.’

Among the shoddiest Dracula movies ever made, this looks and sounds a lot like a shot-on-video 1990s porno movie – but without the sex scenes; in fact, it’s less well-made than Out for Blood, Muffy the Vampire Layer or Trampire. Somehow, writer-director Peter Horak – whose other credits are as a stuntman on major studio films from Evel Knievel to Mystery Men – secured locations on two continents (shooting in Prague and California), which means some castles, countrysides and streets look a lot better than the minimal interior sets.

Like the 1994 porno Dracula, it opens with a few armoured extras clashing as a voice-over establishes who this Vlad the Impaler/Dracula fellow is.  Then, the Count gets about his dungeons in a wobbly floating coffin. Whiny drip Steven Hillman (Denny Sachen) loses his girlfriend Julia (Kerry Dustin) in a rowboat accident and takes a trip to Eastern Europe to forget his sorrows – though he still wanders the streets of Prague by night, shouting her name.

He meets Carla (Dustin, with a silly accent), a lookalike for his lost love, but also falls in with the Indiana Jones-costumed Dr Van Helsing (Bruce Glover, the film’s only ‘name’) – who is out to kill Dracula, but cops some of his ineptitude (failing to destroy the Count with a bullet to the heart) from Richard Benjamin in Love at First Bite, which leads to a Coyote-ish running joke as repeated attempts to use different methods fail to do more than tick off the Count.

An odd aspect is that Dracula is played by three actors (Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko, Tom McGowan) who have different, if unimpressive looks (scraggly hair, tubby, dark glasses, bloated face, etc) which might take cues from the Count’s changeability in the novel (or the range of action figures inspired by Gary Oldman).

It’s not very funny, but some sequences – a dentist encouraged by Van Helsing to defang the Count – are theoretically jokey, and there’s mild bickering between the vampire and his ashen-faced consort Sonia (Talia Botone), who slobbers blood into a wineglass as she disports herself on a grand piano. After several attempts to help Van Helsing kill Dracula, Steven gets back with Carla for a mild sex scene – interrupted when Dracula flies into the room (like George Reeves) and abducts the girl (his mocking sign-off is a To Have and Have Not parody, ‘just put your lips together and suck’) to his castle for piano-playing (these Draculas are very musical) and a dance.

He bites the girl, and Steven shows up for a swordfight – he chops off Dracula’s head, but it sticks back on again. Carla, now vampirised, floats in a doorway with green-lit fog pulling faces, and Dracula sees off the inept vampire slayers with zap-bolts from his fingers. A rare bit of elementary invention has Van Helsing tormented by Dana (Nathalie Huot), the stolen peasant lass who completes Dracula’s trio of brides, who pops about the landscape like a staring refugee from The Running, Jumping, Standing Still Film.

In the climax, the dim-bulb hero is persuaded that it was all a dream, and a now-fanged Van Helsing (a lick from Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat) joins Dracula in a cheerful duet. The music is repeated refrains from classical hits like the ‘Blue Danube Waltz’, and the technical aspects are unbelievably primitive.  This makes Al Adamson’s Blood of Dracula’s Castle look like the Coppola film. It’s even like a porn movie (cf: Intercourse with the Vampyre) in using a title which riffs on a mainstream hit that is otherwise never referred to.


One thought on “Film review – Die Hard Dracula (1998)

  1. Colin Murray Do you know, until now I’d always thought that Muffy the Vampire Layer was one of those wonderfully felicitous typos on the TV menu of the hotel on Columbus Circle I stayed in back in 1992!

    Dean Geoghegan Strange how those typing mistakes all end up on the hotel bill by complete accident.
    Though I did hear once of a hotel chain that put “Caesar Salad” on the bill if you ordered a porn movie (as they were the same price) as a slight nod to discretion. You just had to explain to your petty cash dept. why you had six salads a night when submitting your claim. MPs (and partners) take note!

    Michael Brooke My wife and I would have been utterly unfazed about hotel porn appearing on our bill (let’s face it, who would we be concealing it from?), but we actually found the scrambled picture and unscrambled soundtrack of the free version much more entertaining.

    Steve Bray “Among the shoddiest Dracula movies ever made…”
    Put downs don’t come more put-downy than that. 😀

    Chris Cooke Ah – ta for the reminder – I really liked Sundown, The Vampire in Retreat!

    Posted by kimnewman | April 9, 2020, 10:35 am

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