Director/co-writer Emilio Schargorodsky was the director of photography on Killer Barbys vs Dracula and several other works from Jesus Franco’s late period – and this Spanish take on Bram Stoker (filtered through Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Spirits of the Dead’) has some echoes of Franco’s approach to the gothic in his 1970s pictures. Even in a 71 minute cut with blandly disembodied American voices dubbed on, it’s not without longueurs – but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the Killer Barbys film. It pares down Stoker – dispensing with Mina, Jonathan, Whitby, Arthur and Quincy, the brides, the actual plot – in order to pick at the scab of the Lucy sub-plot, into which modern-day semi-amnesiac Lucy (Nathalie Legosles) slips after a night on a yacht with a handsome stranger (Javier Caffarena).
The contemporary sequences are depopulated and listless, embedding the traditional Dracula action in a dream which might have taken place in Marienbad – though Schargorodsky uses spectacularly rugged Spanish locations for the period sequences, in which Lucy dances with the Count in an abandoned castle while a tubby Van Helsing (Paul Lapidus) and a mute Dr Seward (Antonio del Rio) trace the vampire to his lair. Renfield (Franciso del Rio) is a busking violinist beaten up in a back alley by the fearless vampire slayers and Lucy’s mother (Virginia Palomino) is also the modern-day hotel receptionist who tells the heroine she’s already checked into the room. Caffarena’s Dracula has a good look and a few unusual angles – he’s the last of his line, dependent on the Corman-Poe-style portraits of three vampire progenitors (allowing for a Dorian Gray twist as shredding the pictures harms the monster) and given to gloomy speeches. He also hangs three kids upside-down for exsanguination, in what looks like a very uncomfortable practical effect.
It’s as if Legosles’ character were drifting through the shattered remnants of Dracula, half-remembering bits of character and story … which tips this over into the Vampir Cuadecuc/Lucy en Miroir artier end of the Dracula movie spectrum. Co-written by Caffarena and Jose Luis Matoso.