Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Fernando Fernán Gómez as Baron Dracula Rosenthal in Un Vampiro para Dos (1965)

Your Daily Dracula – Fernando Fernán Gómez as Baron Dracula Rosenthal in Un Vampiro para Dos (1965)

Apparently the first of a surprising number of Spanish vampire comedies, made a little before Paul Naschy started turning out serious homages to the Universal-Hammer style.  Director Pedro Lazaga, who also co-wrote with José María Palacio, might have been looking at the black and white gothic films which came out of Mexico in the late 1950s and early ‘60s – or he might just have wanted to have fun with the Famous Monsters.

The plot set-up is that Pablo (José Luis López Vázquez) and Luisita (Gracita Morales), a married couple, are stressed out because they share a job in a ticket kiosk on the Madrid underground railway – one works the day shift, the other the night shift and they are comically unable to connect.  After a reel of runaround establishing their plight, they fly off to Germany to seek work abroad and find themselves engaged as servants in the household of Baron de Rosenthal (Fernando Fernán Gómez), whose first name might be Dracula.

When they try to ask for directions to the Rosenthal estate, locals shrink in horror – and only an ex-Nazi taxi driver is crazy enough to take them even half-way, whereupon they are picked up in a horsedrawn coach by Wolf (Goyo Lebrero), the Baron’s werewolf servant.  As they arrive, the Baron – in Lugosi-approved cloak and evening clothes – is playing Bach on his pipe organ, but they blithely settle in to the creepy old place.  The Baron is rather a gentle soul as vampires go, and too mild even to be annoyed when a girl in a bar laughs at his old-fashioned attempt to pick her up.

The Spaniards attempt to cheer him up with their cooking, with a long scene in which they try to get him to switch his enthusiasm from drinking sangre to sangria and an inevitable tantrum when they present him with garlic-laced gazpacho.  Arriving from England with a coterie of white-clad vampire minions, the Baron’s sister Nosferata (Trini Alonso) proves more ferocious and dangerous – prompting the servants to wear garlic bulb wreaths and sharpen stakes.  It’s an oddly unbalanced film – Morales and Vázquez are the leads, but they’re shrill and more annoying than funny, whereas Gómez’s slightly sad, out-of-date old worlde vampire is a sketch for the Draculas of Udo Kier (Blood for Dracula) and George Hamilton (Love at First Bite).  He’s not subtle, but he is funny and there’s a strangely sweet bit as he climbs into his coffin to sleep and Wolf, a bloke by night, turns into a faithful guard dog to lie by the crypt.

Alonso’s Nosferata, whose English residence seems to evoke the Hammer of The Kiss of the Vampire, is a nasty shrew but at least has a cool-seeming life-style with her chicas.  Gómez, from Jesus Franco’s Rififi en la ciudad, would go on to play Don Quixote several times and appear in The Spirit of the Beehive.  Though its bat transformation effect is deliberately goofy, the castle set is elaborate and the black and white cinematography has a pleasantly cluttered gothic look with Expressionist camera angles and stark shadows.


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