Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Jeff Miller, Dracula Returns (1994)

Your Daily Dracula – Jeff Miller, Dracula Returns (1994)

Shot on video in Bowling Green and Toledo, Ohio, with a young cast presumably drawn from the Bowling Green State University theatre group (all the locations look as if they were found on campus) or friends and family of writer-director Bryan Enk.  It’s a tough watch at nearly two blurry hours of ranting performances, amateurish videography, in-jokes probably even the makers don’t understand any more and a singular vision – perhaps inspired by Reservoir Dogs, since Quentin Tarantino gets a thanks in the end crawl – of scenes in which short-fused asshole characters sound off at each other, often pointing guns, and generally making heavy weather of everything.

Still, it has a couple of moments of interest – I like the low-budget make-a-virtue-of-adversity business where characters are astonished by the sudden disappearance of snow between scenes – and is a reasonably ambitious stab at doing a knowing follow-up to Stoker’s plot.  It opens in Carfax Woods, near Toledo, where a top-hatted Dracula (Jeff Miller) has been staked and Quincey (Jason Cohom) is bleeding out.  Because Van Helsing (Chuck Johnson) vanishes, Lord Henry Godalming (David Jarrell) is hassled by cops from Toledo and BG – who argue a lot about jurisdiction – in connection with the recent deaths (though Dracula’s body disappears) and some earlier ones in Bowling Green.  I understand why Lucy Westenra is on the dead list, but not what the three basketball players who’ve been racked up as casualties have to do with anything.  Renfield (John Klump) is here Godalming’s first lawyer, though he goes so mad that even the writer is appalled and turns to shoot him, which brings in Jonathan Harker (James Aaron Tecumseh Cook – who might be two guys) – a drunk, abusive creep who is perpetually bullying his fiancee Mina (Diane Weider).

A lot of time is spent on a farce of a trial where jokes keep falling flat; Bram Stoker (Erich Offenburg) shows up to witter on about his creation; Van Helsing recaps the story so far with paper dolls, and has to take care of an unidentified baby (I get the impression the actor was stuck with this and they just shot around it); a very incidental character (Martin the asylum attendant) goes mad in a freakout scene while ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ (one of a lot of needle-drops) plays in full.  In the germ of an idea for an actual Dracula sequel, the discarnate Count seems to possess his various killers in turn though he also turns up to snarl and rant on his own behalf.

You can watch the whole thing here.


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