Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Nate Lane as Old Tyme Vampire, I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker (2016)

Your Daily Dracula – Nate Lane as Old Tyme Vampire, I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker (2016)

One of the odder offshoots of Dracula.  After defeating the Count, Jonathan (Noel Carroll) and Mina (Whitney Moore) relocate to the small American town of Leechwood to raise their son Quincey (Dylan Fox Williams).  Circa 1910, a Romanian vampire (Nate Lane) who has inhaled the dust (and the power) of Dracula shows up with Van Helsing’s ripped-off head (trailing a spine) to avenge the undead – only to be killed and reduced to a fanged skull that becomes a Harker heirloom.  This sequence is an imagined version of a ropey play being staged by present-day Harker brothers Charlie (Carroll) and Gerry (Jacob Givens) with their pal Ned Morris (Derek Haugen) to impress local official Belinda (Megan O’Neil), who is keen to foreclose on the historic but ill-repaired house of the title.

Gerry, an actor in career meltdown after his star role in Twirl (variously described as the Billy Elliot/October Sky/Karate Kid of ‘baton-twirling movies’), is the prime mover in the makeover of the house into a tourist attraction, with his perhaps-autistic brother Charlie dragged along and Ned only in the act because of his lifelong crush on Harker sister Paige (Moore), who is engaged to the Dewey-from-Scream lookalike Sheriff Wayne (Nathan Lorch).  The film trundles along as a quirky, oddly sweet indie comedy about a family of foulups – until serial killer the Nix County Necro (Peter Story) breaks into the house and is accidentally killed (and exsanguinated by a vacuum cleaner), sparking a minor vampire panic which raises interest in the Harkers’ promotional event.  Can they raise enough money from admissions and t-shirt sales to pay off the town.

However, a Nosferatu type (Lane) claws his way out of a Transylvanian crypt and heads for Leechwood, intent on inhaling the dust of that skull – effectively becoming the new master vampire.  On the road, the old tyme vampire runs into the actor hired to play the vampire at House Harker, with an expected mix-up.  Townsfolk are transformed en masse, and the odd band of heroes tackle the crisis in their individual, eccentric ways – including a display of baton-twirling skills.  Things get messy and gruesome, but not in an especially upsetting or offensive way.

Directed by Clayton Cogswell and scripted by Givens – from a story by Carroll, Cogswell and Haugen – this is plainly the product of a small group of folk (the cast list includes a lot of family members of the principle creatives) letting their imaginations run wild within strict budget limitations.  A few of its character bits run on too long, but its wayward weirdness is quite appealing – often footnoting scenes with self-contained sketch flashbacks like a montage explaining why the old guy next door (Arlan Godthaab) quit the exorcist business after being puked on one too many times.  It’s more smartass than smart, but Moore (from the Birdemic films) grounds the comedy in some sort of real feeling, while Haugen’s angry, inappropriate tagalong stretches the envelope of how unpleasant a comedy sidekick can be and still get included in the blood-spattered group hug at the end.  The 2010s-mandatory poke at Twilight has authoress Stacey Mendler (Talya Carroll) coming to a bad end after showing up at the Harkers to protest their racist depiction of vampires as evil bloodsuckers.


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