This ambitious low-budget horror comedy is not only one of the few Dracula/Christmas crossovers but a rare Dracula movie made in Bram Stoker’s homeland – it was shot in and around Cork, making use of impressively gothic locations, and is sprinkled with local in-jokes like a Wolf Man (Lochlainn McKenna) who speaks subtitled dialect.
A black and white silent movie montage establishes that Dracula (Conor Dwane) used to be the Prince of Darkness and an all-round vampire playboy – until he was smitten with Mina Harker (Mary Pappin) and went soft hanging around her family as she grew old and died. In the present day, the miserable has-been is ticked off that the Grim Reaper (Dave Coon) is hailed the new Prince of Darkness and has thrown a successful Halloween party. He coerces his minion Igor (Mike O’Dowd) into buying 50euro worth of party food (the hunchback comes back with Wagon Wheels) and invites his peers over for what seems doomed to turn out to be a miserable evening.
The Invisible Man (Dave McGuire, voiced by Peter Phillips), a noirish existential stand-up comedian, narrates at length – and the guests include a gay Frankenstein Monster (Jonathan O’Dwyer), an alcoholic ‘Dr Jeckyll’ (Jerry O’Mullane), a dead-haired Liverpudlian Medusa (Noelle Clarke), and the Wicked Witch (Lorraine Comiskey). A social media post alerts the Grim Reaper, who recruits Lee Harvey Oswald (John Browne) and John Wilkes Booth (At Kelleher) from Hell to go round and kill Dracula, though the assassins still haven’t settled their argument about which of them killed the best president.
A zombie apocalypse gets in the way, and Dracula and Death go head to head in a gruesome puzzle contest – doing those ‘how did they die’ conundrums (the guy with the full backpack is dead but the guy with the empty backpack isn’t – work it out) to settle things. Generally low-key and underplayed even in its more lunatic moments, this runs on a little too long but certainly isn’t short of ideas – this is the only film you’ll find with Zombie JFK confronting his killer, Vlad the Impaler (not the same person as Dracula, here) dating Myra Hindley in Hell, and a lengthy discourse on Wagon Wheels (taken up in the sequel short The Fangs of Fame).
Dwane, who co-wrote with director Simon Mckeon, has a good Philip Baker Hall-as-Bela Lugosi look as Dracula, and makes for an interestingly pissed-off, gloomy Count in search of the traditional Christmas movie redemptive arc. The other monsters get only thumbnail plots. The title is Christmas at Draculas at the beginning, but the end credits promise Christmas at Dracula’s Two – though, in the event, we only got the sketch The Fangs of Fame, which itself announces the as-yet-unmae Dracula Red Revenge.
And so is The Fangs of Fame