Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Nocturna" (1979) d/ Harry Tampa

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If it wasn't for the emetic disco soundtrack double LP (I'm queasy just typing that) turning up now and again in record store cut-out bins, you might never know about tonight's review, a dreadful mess from the guy who brought you Fairy Tales and Auditions (both 1978), with enough disco, vampires, bad jokes, bad acting, and let's not forget disco, to leave your end of the "me" decade nostalgia purposely untapped for years to come. The film stars a thirty-five year old French/Vietnamese belly dancer named Nai Bonet, who pronounces her English dialogue correctly enough, she just can't string words together in a sentence without leaving the viewer feeling like they're in a logging mill. And if you think she's a lousy actress (and you will), wait 'til you see her spinning around repetitively in a gaudy disco gown for five minutes or more, the first time. Oh, 1979, you ate it sooo hard. Brother Theodore plays a horny werewolf who never transforms, and John Carradine's hands look like something out of a Picasso painting. Sy Richardson and Yvonne DeCarlo should be equally ashamed.

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"If my arthritis-decimated punch-knuckles haven't creeped you out, let me play with my dentures for you!", exclaims Count Dracula (John Carradine).
Dracula's castle has fallen upon an economic rough patch by 1978, as it has since been turned into the Hotel Transylvania, as managed by the Count's ever-stiff, ever-smiling granddaughter, Nocturna (Nai Bonet), who keeps the geryatric King of vampires alive in the castle's basement catacombs. Dracula (John Carradine) drinks blood from a glass, pops his dentures in, and makes toilet jokes. Nocturna's assistant, Theodore (Brother Theodore) is a power-crazed werewolf who's been waiting for the Count to finally pass away, when he isn't hiding in the shadows peering in on Nocturna as she takes a lengthy bubble bath, followed by a hearty full frontal on-camera self-oil down. While watching an out-of-sync disco group called Moment of Truth rehearse for their upcoming gig in the Hotel's Claret Room (stop, you're killing me.), she falls for the gay blonde bassist (Antony Hamilton) who shows her how to move like a jagoff on a discotheque floor and they soon share an unerotic sex scene that wouldn't turn on Milosh the Filthy Stud zooted on cattle aphrodisiac.

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"I'm-falling-in-love-with-your-embarrassing-disco-moves!", blurts the robotic Nocturna (Nai Bonet).
Determined to leave the vampire lifestyle behind, Nocturna and Jimmy head to Manhattan, where she meets with Jugulia (Yvonne DeCarlo), a relative who lives under the Brooklyn Bridge, and is introduced to a group of bloodsuckers, including a vampire pimp named RH Factor (Sy Richardson), who turn into cartoon bats when the fuzz busts in. Nocturna meets Jimmy at the Starship Discovery Disco, and they stink up the dance floor for several minutes at a time to dated-sounding disco tunes that never cracked the Top 100. She pays RH a visit and watches as his stable of vampiric bitches take their tops off and put the bite on some unsuspecting Manhattan Jew. Dracula and Theodore leave Transylvania for New York to return Nocturna to her homeland and heritage, and then there's more bad jokes, disco dancing, and whirling around clumsily. Theodore kidnaps the young couple, but Nocturna busts out of a fake-looking laundry bag to save her new beau, fangs out, before he can tap Jimmy's blood. "Go vey! Filth! Unspeakable filth!" says Teddy. Dracula shows up at the discotheque himself, and causes some piss poor visual effects to happen with his gnarled hands, but ultimately ends up sharing a coffin with Jugulia, and letting Nocturna face her first non-fatal sunrise with her mortal lover. Cue some more disco.

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"If you hate my bad acting and even worse dancing, I can just cover my body in oil for you."
Bonet, who spent three hundred fifty thousand dollars of her own dough to finance the film and soundtrack, also appeared nude in an issue of Gallery to promote the film. Luckily for moviegoers, her acting career never made it to 1980. Her muscle-bound-yet-talentless blonde co-star, Antony Hamilton, later died of A.I.D.S.-related complications. If I bought the Media VHS (the last official release the movie has ever seen, to date, FYI) back in the early eighties (I snagged one for a buck or two as the video store era came to a close in the early nineties, and never once felt compelled to play it), chances are, I'd have been saltier than the Dead Sea. To any aspiring genre manufacturers currently mapping out a steelbook Bluray restoration, or other such silly nonsensical edition of tonight's review, I say to you: Don't you fucking dare do it. Some movies, like this one, do not deserve such a treatment.  Leave it buried forever, in it's concrete crypt, where it belongs. O solo woppo.

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"You paid vivty bahks for ze vintage Media VHS? Go ah-vey! Filth! Unspeakable filth!!!"
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Crankenstien said...

How does Brother Theodore explain his appearance in GUMS, I'd watch that guy in anything--except that hardcore junk that is.

beedubelhue said...

I always dug Bro Theo, his comedy lps are different to say the least, and his voice work in the Tolkien cartoons and Watership Down are faves as well, but Gums, I have YET to see.


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