Cinema/TV, Dracula

Your Daily Dracula – The Curse of Valburga (The Curse of Dracula)

The Curse of Valburga (The Curse of Dracula)

In this scrappy Slovenian horror film, desperate-for-money tour guide Marjan (Jurij Drevensek) and his cloddish brother Bojan (Marko Mandic) do a deal with a sleazy security guard (Ziga Fodransperg) to get access to the abandoned mansion of Baron Valburga – who was supposedly Dracula’s cousin – so they can show a minibus full of foreign tourists around the place and throw in some fake scares.  It’s notable that the budget on the film is so low that the minibus is only talked about and never shown – though no expense has been spared when it comes to tossing buzzsaw blades about the mansion.

Writer-director Tomaz Gorkic makes a few strange decisions – in the first scene, an asshole in a bar hits on a blonde (Leja Jurisic ) and she gives him a telling-off, but rather than her being the heroine she leaves the film and it turns out we’re stuck with the asshole as apparent co-lead character, soon to be joined by a whiny asshole and an aggressive asshole in a scene that lasts a good twenty minutes before we cut to the castle.  The tour group includes: a tattooed Swedish Satanist (Hiklas Kvarforth) who is searching for a mystic artefact associated with the evil Baron; a trio of goths (Neza Blazic, Ondina Kerec, Matvez Loboda) who are hoping to trap a vampire and be turned into children of the night, though one of them is more interested in cocaine; a Russian porn auteur (Luka Cimpric) who wants to shoot a scene with two girls (Sasa Pavlin Stosic, Zala Djuric Ribic); and a German couple (Tanja Ribic, Jonas Znidarsic) who just chug cans of beer and ignore all the murders.

The mansion has a piecemeal history of horrors – after it was the lair of a rumoured vampire, it was an insane asylum – and murders are committed by a masked goon in a Nazi helmet who wields a buzzsaw strimmer, with a group of Hills Have Eyes-style cannibals hanging about in the cellar intent on making steak tartare out of the visitors … it takes a while, but the vampire Baron (Davor Klaric) does eventually make an appearance, though this is too impatient to settle on which sub-genre of horror film it is, let alone on an actual tone.

It has some absurdist comedy – ‘my anal career is ruined,’ laments one of the porn stars – and a lot of scenes of folk being aggressively unpleasant to each other in various languages (all spoken with a Slovenian accent, and sometimes subtitled).  That long bar scene suggests the feckless tour guides will be the lead characters, and Marjan gets the most screen time – but it’s a film that doesn’t have a ‘final girl’ or even a sense of story progression, as it randomly feeds its unlikeable, shrill caricature characters into a meat-grinder until the running time is up.  The mansion is at least an impressive setting – and some of the cannibal hideout scenes have a creepy, unsettling feel.


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