Paul Morrissey shot this black comedy back to back with Flesh for Frankenstein, and they make an ideal gruesome-yet-elegant gothic horror double bill. The high concept is that Udo Kier’s Dracula, with uniquely strangled Transylvanian dialogue delivery, is so desperate for virgin blood that he is brought by his devoted minion Anton (Arno Juerging) to Italy because, as a Catholic country, there will be fresher victims. He sets his sights on the four DiFiore sisters, daughters of a dotty, penniless aristo (Vittorio De Sica). However, resentful Communist handyman Mario (Joe Dallesandro, in an endearingly blockheaded non-performance) is deflowering the girls in turn – and drinking non-virgin blood makes the Count nauseous.
The most memorable sequences show Dracula’s violent reaction to the taste of non-virgin blood, with Kier spewing copious amounts of red, red blood all over an art deco bathroom. Almost as bizarre is the climax, in which an axe-wielding Mario lops off all four of Dracula’s limbs in a silly chase before driving a stake through his wriggling, still-defiant torso.
Even more than Flesh for Frankenstein, this is an extension of the improvised, lowlife, minimalist films Morrissey made with Andy Warhol – this Dracula is heroin chic thin and gets junkie twitches when he goes for too long without blood, while the beautiful, trivial sisters ramble on about class and shopping when they aren’t hopping into bed with the thuggish hero. Dallesandro plays the sort of guy who can look at a fourteen year-old girl and say ‘I’d like to rape the hell out of her’, which raises the question of how exactly he’s better than the blood-lusting vampire.