Fracchia contro Dracula (1985)A feeble Italian comedy, built around unprepossessing, middle-aged Paolo Villaggio. The star is best known for a popular ten-film series in which he played a luckless clerk called Fantozzi – this finds him as a similar twerp called Fracchia, carried over from a TV series and the earlier Fracchia la Belva Humana.
Fracchia is so terrified during a horror film that he gets up and unamusingly tips over several rows of cinema seats. Like Jonathan Harker, this meek fifty-something virgin works as an estate agent. On the point of being fired by his boss (glowering Paul Muller), Fracchia has to take another fussy eccentric (Gigi Reder) to Transylvania because the fool wants to buy a five-bathroom house for a tiny sum. ‘Count Vlad’ (Edmund Purdom) has his castle on the market, but everyone in the inn flees at the mention of his name. A singing barmaid (Susanna Martinkova) surprisingly comes on to Fracchia, telling him it’s dangerous to be a virgin in this region. He leaves the room, but returns to find her in a clinch with the vampire, gets the wrong idea and mumbles without raising so much as a smile. Purdom’s jowly, uncharismatic Dracula is an evening-dressed, cloaked Lugosi-alike, partnered by Ania Pieroni (the Third Mother of Inferno) as his slinky sister Oniria, who has terrible 1985 hair, but is still fabulous-looking.
With even less plot than, say, Dracula Blows His Cool, The Vampire Happening or Mama Dracula, this offers occasionally nice images courtesy of ridiculously overqualified cinematographer Luciano Tovoli (The Passenger, Suspiria) and a cameo from Romano Puppo as the Karloff-look Frankenstein Monster. The rote run-around-the-castle business winds up with a rooftop chase that finishes when Dracula impales himself on Fracchia’s umbrella… then he wakes up back in the cinema – it’s all been a dream! But a fanged Purdom is sitting behind him!
Directed and co-written (with Villagio, Franco Marotta and Laura Toscano) by Neri Parenti, who had done several Fantozzi pictures and later had an Italian domestic success with the annual Natale films. Fracchia was never heard from again.
Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.
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