Cinema/TV, Dracula

Your Daily Dracula – John Doyle as Sir Alfred Terminus, Outback Vampires (1987)

Your Daily Dracula – John Doyle as Sir Alfred Terminus, Outback Vampires (1987)

Australian Director Colin Eggleston isn’t quite a one-hit wonder, but his 1978 revenge-of-nature movie Long Weekend towers above everything else he made – his CV includes some Oz telly, a pseudonymous porn movie (Fantasm Comes Again), some VHS era filler (Sky Pirates, Innocent Prey), a script credit on John Lamond’s Nightmares, the decent paranormal picture Cassandra and the ramshackle Ozsploitation horror comedy Outback Vampires – aka The Wicked – which was his final film.  Eggleston directed and co-wrote with David Young – and it’s in the tradition of such Australia/New Zealand pieces as The Cars That Ate Paris, Death Warmed Up, Welcome to Woop Woop and 100 Bloody Acres, though its commitment to camp (stretching to a rock group in the basement belting out a number called ‘Just Begun’) also evokes The Rocky Horror Picture Show (seldom considered an antipodean effort, though most of the creatives hail from Down Under).

It’s not great, but it has some funny moments and an authentic streak of dialect humour.  One thing missing is great views of the wide open empty spaces – as featured in disturbing Australian films from Wake in Fright to Picnic at Hanging Rock, since the outback visited here just looks like scrubland maybe twenty minutes beyond the suburbs.  Rodeo performers Nick (Richard Morgan) and Bronco (Brett Climo), whose characters can be measured on a scale of similarity to Barry McKenzie from Very to Extremely, pick up tough-talking knife-thrower Lucy (Angela Kennedy) on the road, but their car is sabotaged by a cunning trap and they wander into the nowhere town of Yarraluma, which is populated by aggressive eccentrics and is plainly harbouring a secret – local goons are burying suspect ‘cattle bones’ in a mass grave, the Mayor (Lucky Grills) has a string of garlic bulbs round his neck, and a station master presides over a derelict halt where no train has stopped in a while.  Of course, the place revolves around a pub, with a blowsy blonde barmaid (Annie Semler) serving up beer – but the townsfolk pack the newcomers off to a mansion adjacent to a slaughterhouse (big in Aussie 80s horrors, thanks to Razorback) and they fall in with a family of Addams/Furter/Femm/Draculoid eccentrics who are, as the title promises, vampires (of a sort).

It turns into a broad comedy spin on the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with the trio menaced, sexually harrassed or bled by various members of the Terminus clan – patriarch Sir Alfred (John Doyle), mad mama Agatha (Maggie Blinco), grown-up Pugsley perv George (David Gibson) and half-a-brain wild-haired Yog Sothoth-worshipping daughter Samantha (Antonia Murphy).  There’s business with keys which always open to traps, George raises carnivorous roses, a Scotsman called Jock (Andy Devine) is found in someone’s cellar and rattles on about Scots vampire variants, Nick gets shat on by a crow and sports bird poo for the rest of the film, the pop group Perfect Strangers are also found in the cellar and come to life and sing a song then go away again, Lucy’s knife-throwing comes in handy, some cherished vampire myths are exploded (Sir Alfred can come out in the daylight) and there are plenty of gore/goo gags.  I get the impression that there’s the skeleton of a decent script, with more texture that was strictly necessary, but a hasty production squelches some of the better ideas and the performances are mostly one-note jokes (Murphy is the funniest weirdo).  It does have an unusual finish, using Giant From the Unknown perspective jokes, as Sir Alfred – in full Dracula cape-and-dickie-bow gear, grows to giant size and becomes a kaiju vampire who can only be killed if impaled with the sharpened bone of one of his victims.


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