Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Draghoula (1994)

Your Daily Dracula – Robyn Lane as Armadona Draculescu, Chriss Lee as Harry Silberman, Draghoula (1994)

A bewilderingly odd Canadian vampire variant – hectic and shrill rather than comical, with a few moments of regular cruelty, a lot of repetition (enough with the nighttime attacks and Jewish mother routines), and a weird take on the Dracula legend that does throw up one or two newish ideas.  It’s also incoherent on a plot/character level, as if writer-director Bashar Shbib – perhaps best known for the early David Duchovny vehicle Julia Has Two Lovers – were forced to rearrange scenes at random.  I’d swear crucial plot points have been dropped and some plot threads peter out.  At one point, the protagonist wakes up the heroine early in the morning, intent on telling her something important – she tells him to go away so she can get some sleep … and the incident is never mentioned again, so we never find out which of the big happenings in his life he was talking about.

In an anonymous city played by Montreal, slightly chubby, ponytailed genetic researcher Harry Silberman (Chriss Lee) is put out when his bosses bring in Sabrina Stettler (Stephanie Seidle), a co-worker who is charged with streamlining the budget of his course of rat experiments (he’s trying to isolate the ‘guilt gene’).  Nevertheless, Harry and Sabrina – who is also slightly chubby, making this a rare film with normal-sized people having relationships and jobs rather than playing ‘funny friend’ roles – start dating, much to the disapproval of Harry’s smothering mother Ida (Victoria Barkoff), whose act is more or less lifted from Where’s Poppa?  Harry is also interested in Armadona Draculescu (Robyn Lane), a caped vampire (and descendent of the famous family) who supplies rats for laboratories.  One of the rats bites Harry before Armadona does, and he starts wearing his hair loose, cross-dressing in slinky outfits and stalking the streets for prey to bite, targeting men and women.  The level of gore is TV movie safe, but there is a vampire blowjob/dick-biting scene.

Ida blames Sabrina for all this, but consults a female Islamic scholar Laila Zresbos (Bobi Vian) who diagnoses this particular strain of vampirism.  They are puzzled when, in a variant on that Dance of the Vampires gag, sacred items of various religions all fail to have an effect on this Jewish vampire, though he has been coming through the back door to avoid kissing the mezuzah.  Harry and Armadona have also enjoyed an interlude in a church, snacking on holy wafers and Armadona wears a cross apparently to damp down her powers so she can pass for normal.  Harry’s draghoula act starts out as simple cross-dressing but then turns into bedraggled, ridiculous-looking tat and the finale is one of those Benny Hill chase scenes as Ida and Laila (dressed, for no real reason, as punks) chase after Sabrina (waving a syringe full of a vampire cure she’s developed) who chases after Harry (in an ass-revealing outfit) who is chasing after Armadona (who wants to give up on the whole thing).

Top-billed Seidle never acted again – she’s done set decoration/buyer gigs on the likes of Hellraiser: Hellseeker, Prison Break, Lucifer and Resident Alien.  Lane, under the name Robyn Rosenfeld, was an executive producer on those 2001 TV movie remakes of the AIP back catalogue (Larry Clark’s Teenage Caveman, etc) and Effie Grey.  Chriss Lee must have got fed up with jokes that he was only cast in this on the principle that someone said ‘if we’re making a vampire movie, we need to hire Chris Lee’ – he also wrote some of the songs (‘I’m a Boy and I’m a Girl’, the gender-fluid anthem over the end credits is quite catchy, though Lee only produced that – it was written by Ky Anto and performed by Talamasca and Sassy Scarlet).  Hearing the title, I presumed this would be a skit on the lines of the Dragula sketch in Disco Beaver From Outer Space or even a softcore take on Gayracula – but it has way more Jewish jokes than gay jokes, and the crossdressing element of the plot is strangely beside the point.


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