Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Dracula père et fils"(1979)d/Edouard Molinaro

Though I'd often read about about tonight's review in reference books and vintage horror mags, I'd never gotten the opportunity to actually see it for myself until excitedly stumbling upon a tattered 1982 Columbia Home Video vhs copy for sale at an outlet in Delaware, setting me back a couple of bucks back in the nineties.That something like eighteen minutes had been excised from the pan n' scan print and it having been excruciatingly dubbed for laughs didn't really have any bearing against my desire to see the film, the last big screen portrayal of Dracula(referred to only as "The Count" here) by iconic cult legend, Christopher Lee, nor did my unfamiliarity with the movie's other star, Bernard Menez, who, it turns out, had an earlier go at blending horror and comedy with a Hammer co-star, in 1974's obscure Tendre Dracula, alongside Peter Cushing playing the Count himself for the only time in his long career.Appearing alongside Lee and Menez here are the Breillat sisters, Marie-Hélène and Catherine, the former being the wife of director Molinaro, while the latter was a controversial writer/director in her own right, helming the sex-charged Une Vraie Jeune Fille(reviewed here) among others.To say whatever it was they set out to accomplish with the film was thoroughly depredated with an embarrassingly unfunny-as-fuck dub by nose candy-fiends from Dekaub Ave, failing miserably at recreating dated celebrity voices(The multilingual Lee, for example, delivered his lines in English, then provided his unmistakable booming voice for the French and English dubs, which the video version avoids altogether somehow) oblique storyline, and extensive incoherent guillotine cuts, might just be the understatement of the fucking year.The result is a horror-comedy that's painful to sit through and flatter than Audrey Hepburn's A cups, unaugmented by a fistful of Kleenex.Until I finally see an uncut French print of the film, I'm forced to say this: Dracula and Son, tu débites que des conneries sale éspece de grosse je-sais-pas-quoi.If that's not very funny to you French-tongued Woprophiles, then it's a perfect description, really.Onwards.
It stands to reason that Dracula's French offspring(Bernard Menez) might indeed sound like Tennessee Tuxedo...
After a cartoon intro that wouldn't look out of place as a Schoolhouse Rock episode, we turn to the year 1784 in eastern Romania, where a lady of breeding(Marie-Hélène Breillat) travelling by coach as driven by two cossack-types with Brooklyn yiddish accents(all together now, ha...ha...ha...)is whisked away from her stranded ride by the emissary to the Prince of Darkness, Juan Miguel Roberto Jose Fidel Martinez del Morto(aka/"Jim"), to the Count(Christopher Lee)'s castle, where she marvels at his organ(the musical instrument)while screwing in his coffin and becomes his bride, bearing him a male heir who gets rocked to sleep in a mini-coffin by his vampiric nanny, Brunhilda.Dracula's bride is transformed into smoldering cinders by the rays of daylight when she overdoes her first night out breaking in her new fangs, leaving the Count to deal with his mischievous son(he bowls a human skull into his mother's urn and drinks blood between transfusions while locking his nanny out of the castle as the sun rises) on his own.One hundred and twenty years go by without Victor(Bernard Menez) claiming a victim, obviously due to his lesser stature, false moustache, or perhaps its because he sounds exactly like Maxwell Smart.Over time, Dracula's castle is turned into the People's House of Pleasure and Proletariat Dancehall.With their parlour crawling with dancing Romanian pinkos, Dracula and Son make for Paris on a ship in the coffins of two French sailors, unaware the men are to be buried at sea.On the shores of a beach near Paris, Victor gets kicked in the face after a particularly humorless exchange with a gaggle of ruffians beating the piss out of each other, while his father turns up in a fishing net aboard the Cucaracha, and after hearing the Mexican fisherman exclaiming, "Mira! Mira!" wonders,"Fools!Don't they know vampires can't be seen in mirrors?".I'm gonna give you a minute to change yer piss-pants now...
I don't know about its effect on vampires, but I sure find it repugnant enough.
After a whole laughless bit with Victor trying to find shelter from the sun while avoiding the swishy advances of a French homo who ends up about to get fag bashed by two old Jaques-types, we see the Count bite the neck of a blow up doll.Victor gets a job in a hospital morgue and robs blood banks for sustainance(yaaawn), then his father gets mistaken for Christopher Lee(!) while stalking a victim earning himself the lead role in a low budget horror movie called 'Blood of the Vampire'.He bites a chatty co-star and fools her into opening the door during daylight hours to stop her incessant yapping.He and Victor are reunited at the airport among a small group of paparazzi who goad over the Count's Gucci coffin-bag.The duo go coffin-shopping for Victor and he dreams of being his father on the movie set, repeating takes of the same sequence over and over doing dated celebrity voice impressions like W.C. Fields and Jimmy Cagney.Meanwhile his father spots the reincarnation of his lost love in the beautiful young Nicole(also Marie-Hélène Breillat), who's seemingly only interested in using his likeness for a toothpaste advertisement(yaaaaaaaawn), but after the lame gag-laden game spit by young Victor, she runs to the Count to prove her love to him.A jealous Victor continually cock blocks his old man until the Count throws his alarm clock out the window and goes to Nicole's pad.Victor chucks his old man's designer coffin-bag out the window and when he agrees to do the toothpaste commercial, he's shamed on set by the Count, causing Victor to pack up and split.Young Dracula manages to bed Nicole while posing as his father and discovers he can travel during sunlight hours and has regained his reflection.Nicole draws open an early morning curtain while Victor and the Count argue about his new humanity and the old vampire is reduced to ashes.Five years later, we see young Dracula and Nicole have raised a pair of children as they discover their young son has some pretty sharp eye teeth.Yeah, it's finally over.Roll credits.
Sir Chris's grill says it all here, doesn't it?
I shouldn't like to think about how many times I've actually sat all the way through this fetid sac du merde, due to the many copies I've ripped for buddies in years passed, but whatever the number is, it's too fucking many.In fact, any individuals hurt by my penchant for occasional meanspiritedness and cruelty can point to my viewing this movie as the starting line for my antisocial behavior, no doubt.I can only recommend this to Christopher Lee completists and those few champions of unfunny comedies(I'm usually among their number, just not here.), and even those will be visibly disappointed by their viewing experience, I'd wager.Until a definitive uncut French language print turns up in a Vichy bunker-turned-coffee shop someday, it's just one wop on the scale for Dracula, and his son, considerably less.Avoid like a Yes album.
Can't blame him, I'd be biting that neck myself.


Kev D. said...

Upon reading your review, one might think I would want to see it less... but somehow, I want to see it even more.

beedubelhue said...

I couldn't possibly make the review as unentertaining as the American print of the movie is.I mean, I could, but I'd never do that to you.


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