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Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Pedro Weber ‘Chatanuga’, El Vampiro Teporocho (1989)

Your Daily Dracula – Pedro Weber ‘Chatanuga’, El Vampiro Teporocho (1989)

The 1965 Spanish film Un vampiro para dos seems to have been highly influential in Latin countries – there are multiple Spanish, Italian and Mexican variants with cloaked Dracula type vampires blundering around the modern world, becoming the butt of slapstick gags, failing to live up to their romantic images and generally proving to be unthreatening.  Most of them feel like extended Benny Hill skits – indeed, Benny Hill did a Dracula skit you can find in the listing of comedy Draculas on this site – and that’s especially true of this vehicle for Mexican comedian Pedro Weber aka ‘Chatanuga’, who seems to be the Mexico City version of Rodney Dangerfield or Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown.  A potato-shaped middle-aged clod, Weber plays ‘el Conde Dracula’ with a Lugosi toupee and evening clothes – his amulet contains his own portrait – and curly fangs.  He also cheeps like a bat in a way that’s more annoying than amusing – and rattles off a lot of rhyming patter.

It opens in ‘Transilvania’ where three whacky scientists we never see again pull the stake out of Dracula’s chest and put him in a ‘MASA’ rocket that gets shot into space – but crashes in Mexico where the frequently-tipsy vampire (the title translates as ‘The Vampire Barfly’) first falls in with some fellow winos and then with a trio of comedy rogues (Charly Valentino, Humberto Herrera, Guillermo de Alvarado) who seem to be truck drivers but have all sorts of foul-up schemes to exploit their sort-of-supernatural new pal.  This being the ‘80s, there are a few mentions of AIDS (Dracula wears condoms on his fangs to bite a hooker) and Madonna, but mostly the comic routines are silent cinema-type knockabout.  At one point, Dracula goes to a bar where a Dracula lookalike contest is taking place – he comes second.  At another, he transforms first into a bat to prey on Afrodita (Rebeca Silva) but then becomes a big fat fly with a human face and is repelled by insect spray.

The most memorable sequence – in a way guaranteed to offend a lot of viewers – has the Count eat a chile pepper and transform into a turkey, who is then entered in a cockfight by his pals.  Painful as most of the slapstick is, the film only becomes .excruciating when it segues into unfaked animal cruelty.  The turkey – who keeps trying to shuck the Dracula cape tied around its neck and flops it over its head – is viciously attacked by a (genuine?) fighting cock and the rogue with the Rambo headband keeps forcing it back into the ring to get pecked again.  Towards the end of the movie, the injured and human-again Count meets fetching vampirette Roxana (Gabriela Goldsmith), who has done well for herself by getting a job in the bloodbank.

Scripted by Antonio Orellana from a story by Orellana, Luis Bekris and director Rafael Villaseñor Kuri.  The mariachi music isn’t bad but this is a challenging watch even for Dracula completists.

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