Cinema/TV, Dracula

Your Daily Dracula – Barry Mckenzie Holds His Own (1974) Donald Pleasence as Ehrich Count Plasma

Barry Mckenzie Holds His Own (1974) Donald Pleasence as Ehrich Count Plasma

A sequel to The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, masterminded by Barry Humphries, who writes and takes a bunch of parts, and Bruce Beresford, who writes and directs.  The Humphries who would become a British TV institution may well be as embarrassed by this clod-hopping crudeness as the Beresford who became known mainly for po-faced ‘quality’ films (King David, Driving Miss Daisy).

It’s a parade of puke, poof and pommie jokes with a slim plot: Dame Edna Everage (BH) is mistaken for the Queen by vampire spies Hugo Cretin (Louis Negin) and Modest Imbecile (Paul Humpoletz) and kidnapped to Transylvania for a state visit hosted by the vampire communist Minister of Tourism, Erich Count Plasma (Pleasence looking like Peter Sallis in a Lugosi wig and fangs).  Barry McKenzie (Barry Crocker) and his identical twin Kev the Rev (Crocker) join a team of Aussie comandoes — including a game Clive James, who takes part in the song and dance routines — stage a Where Eagles Dare-style rescue mission.

There are some sexcom elements, with minor nudity, but for all his crude talk (‘the kids at school used to reckon Kevin had two dongers … he couldn’t have got as silly as that playin’ with just one’), Barry McKenzie is rather a Puritan hero, appalled to find an Aussie sheila (Little Nell of The Rocky Horror Picture Show) being flogged in a Paris club, turning down a topless Katya Wyeth (Mircalla in Twins of Evil) and coming on to Rhonda Cutforth-Jones (Merdelle Jordine), a black photojournalist (‘an abo,’ he exclaims) who has snapped him nude for a Cosmo-style women’s mag, only to jump into her bed and be accused of ‘pooftahood’ by her boyfriend.

Typical dialogue exchanges …  Rhonda: ‘An alarming number of men under twenty-five find themselves virgins.’  Barry: ‘Lucky bastards!’  … Rhonda: ‘Christ would have dug the gay scene.  Have you ever balled another chick, Mrs Everage.’  Dame Edna: ‘I may be old-fashioned, young woman, but lesbianism has always left a nasty taste in my mouth.’  There are a few almost subtle moments: Pleasence’s vampire hosting a dingy communist-bloc-style tourist film of ugly modern high-rises which have replaced useless parks, a seam of jokes about Australia’s often-forgotten McCarthy-like anti-Communist crusade.

It’s kind of dreadful, but packed full of interesting people and 1970s obsessions (a kungfu expert Cinese cook).  Horror frills: a vampire impaled on French bread, a cheery tourist film of Australian beaches with bloody seamonster attacks, hunchback minion Dorothy (Robert Gillespie), seductive vampire Clotilde (Nancy Blair), Dame Edna with a tap in her neck being decanted into a bottle in the vampire’s ‘vein cellar’ (Plasma: ‘the auto-vamp, a labour-saving contraption … it can suck you dry while I for example mow the lawn or watch the Cup Final on TV’), a vampire-defying cross made of cans of Foster’s lager which reduces Plasma to a smoking skeleton, and a Count Yorga ending with Barry’s bitten sister-in-law.

That bizarro supporting cast: Aussie icons Dick Bentley (‘a commo sympathiser’) and Ed Devereaux, Arthur English, John le Mesurier, Roy Kinnear (the Bishop of Paris), Frank Windsor, Deryck Guyler, Tommy Trinder, Jerrold Wells (who did the tap-in-the-neck bit in Vault of Horror), film critic Tony Rayns (!); Chantal Contouri (Thirst), Fiona Richmond.  Songs: ‘A Raving Ratbag’, ‘Go and Stick Your Left Eye in Hot Cocky Shit and Stick Your Head Up a Dead Bear’s Bum’.  Make-up by Chris Tucker.


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