Love bites: Count Dracula’s Great Love (1974)

One of the things I love about these films is that they start off with a normal banal trip that detours into bloody terror. I think vampires are perfect for this kind of story. They are the most charming of monsters, but their charm is based on a singular desire, fulfilling their needs. One man who was great at portraying this was Paul Naschy, though he was famous for portraying immortal werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, he conveyed many motives often associated with the vampire. He did, however, play the king of vampires in 1974’s Count Dracula’s Great Love.
 The film opens with a coach pulling up to the “Klinik de Cargos”, a sanitarium that has long closed. It is in the process of being reopened by a Dr. Marlow and they are delivering some items for him. Once inside, the workers decide to rob the place of any valuables that might be left over from the previous owner. Way to go guys. In their excitement, they damage the crate only to find a coffin inside containing a female fanged corpse and she’s not happy. After some throat ripping and axe handling, the asylum is safe once again to commit murder and bloodletting.
After a moody and slow motion title sequence, the flick kicks in proper with a coach passing through town containing a man and three requisite hotties, Imre (Vic Winner), Senta (Rosanna Yanni), Marlene (Ingrid Garbo), Karen (Haydée Politoff), and Elke (Mirta Miller). Imre is playing story teller, schooling the girls on Bram Stoker’s novel and then the local sanitarium which they are passing by. Actually, they were passing by until they lost a wheel and had to stop. Good thing there’s that sanitarium nearby. With the coach driver incapacitated, they head over to see if their fortunes will change. Hell yeah they will.

 

Enter the man, the myth, the legend, Paul Naschy as Dr. Marlow. He lives alone in the sanitarium and is only happy to help. He has a supply coach that is coming in a few days and invites them to stay. And they do stay, stay naked, stay in his bed, stay loose, yes there’s all kinds of staying going on. What do you expect? Dr. Marlow is really Dracula ya know.
But I digress, anyways, soon the girls start snooping around and find a book that details Dracula’s needs (yes, I said needs). Dracula is constantly reincarnated and there is a series of circumstances that need to take place for this to happen. Since there is a virgin in the equation, Marlow sets his sights on Karen, the only girl that doesn’t party hardcore.
Yes it’s a vampire orgy to end all vampire orgies. Acting, sets, and music are all top notch, in fact the only thing they skimp on in this film is the clothing. Heh heh. Directed by Javier Aguirre, as per any film of this era, there is a definite Hammer vibe, but really, how can there not be?
Paul Naschy, the coolest man in Spain, takes on the role of Dracula and brings something new to the often played role. Granted, he’s no Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee, but I feel that with the proper script, he could have been. His costars are a who’s who of the euro horror community and that adds to the fun. Who you may ask? Well let’s see…
Sexy Rosanna Yanni from “Fangs of the Living Dead” and “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror”, Mirta Miller of “Eyeball” and “Vengeance of the Zombies”, and Ingrid Garbo from “Murder Mansion”. Yes it’s a packed house or castle if you will. The sets by Jose Luis Galicia have an eerie loneliness that sets the mood nicely and gives the film an undercurrent of dread and Composer Carmelo Bernaola creates a sexy and shocking score as he did in Horror Rises from the Tomb.
This movie presents the most convoluted Dracula mythos ever. With a plot that involves reincarnation, virgin sacrifice, and Dracula’s evil daughter Rodna(!), this film is one to watch. There are some detractors for this film who feel that any deviation from the traditional myths is a travesty. The joy of these characters is that they can constantly be reinvented and tweaked. Paul Naschy always tried to bring something different to his interpretations of classic monsters (he almost played them all), and this film is no exception. So sit back, grab some red wine and enjoy the show. And for reasons that should be obvious, don’t watch it alone…