Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Lady Dracula (1978)

Stephen Boyd. Lady Dracula (1978). With Evelyne Kraft as Lady Dracula.

This German vampire movie, from a story by blocky American star Brad Harris, isn’t quite a comedy, but offers lumpen hijinx with panicky undertakers and a busy, funky score which is hard to take seriously.  Eddi Arent, comic relief in dozens of Edgar Wallace movies, does prissy shtick as a copper working with Harris’s he-man trenchcoat to investigate a spate of blood-related crimes.  Director F.J. Gottlieb was an old krimi hand, too — with credits like The Phantom of Soho and The Black Abbot.

In a 19th Century prologue, Dracula (Stephen Boyd), sporting his usual cloak-and-fangs look, bites a German Countess and is destroyed in his crypt by a stern band of clerical vampire-killers.  An unusual touch in this oft-staged scene is that the priest has to uncross the vampire’s arms, which lie over his heart, before staking him in the coffin with a broken spade handle, whereupon the vampire’s outstretched arms sag as he does a slow dissolve to dust.

Aside from token flashback snarls, Dracula is then out of the picture.  In 1970s Vienna, workmen on a building site dig up a coffin (cf: The Return of the Vampire, the TV movie Vampire) and remove a valuable cross, freeing Countess Barbara von Weidenborn (Marion Kracht).  Evelyne Kraft, the blonde goddess from The Mighty Peking Man, takes over the role from the angelic Kracht and swans about in high style, fitting into swinging modern society with red-lipgloss (fangs optional) and a Charlie’s Angels-coiffure plus a wardrobe of fabulous, mostly yellow outfits (unusual colour scheme for a vampire).  She commits a few murders, is upset by garlic dressing on steak, turns into a giant bat (not that impressive) and burns her hand on a cross.  Torn by feelings for the clod hero, she tries to ethically source her diet by robbing a blood bank but winds up biting a nurse anyway.

Arent, apparently playing himself, can’t get anyone to take his vampire theory seriously and impales his own foot with a trick cane.  Harris writes himself as irresistible to women but seemingly doesn’t bother with a character name, playing a cop just known as the Kommissar – trading on Harris’s Kommissar X series.  After a scrappy last-reel fight, the hero pursues the vampire into a secret room where she has a coffin with an automatically-lowering lid.  She pulls him in with her for a comical, abrupt finish.  Arent makes a funny remark as a swingle-sung ‘Lady Dracula’ theme cuts in.  Kraft’s Lady Dracula should not be confused with Ingrid Pitt’s Countess Dracula, Louise Fletcher’s Mamma Dracula or Sylvia Kristel’s Dracula’s Widow – or the distinguished personage’s other various brides, daughters, fiancés, girlfriends, mistresses, groupies and hangers-on.

Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.


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