Blood For Dracula

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Blood For Dracula (1974), or Andy Warhol’s Dracula, was produced immediately following Flesh For Frankenstein (1973). Much of the same cast and crew was retained by writer and director Paul Morrissey. Blood For Dracula became something of an instant cult classic when it was released. Partly this was because of Warhol’s “involvement” and partly because of the cameos by directors Roman Polanski and Vittorio De Sica. But everything about Blood For Dracula is pure Paul Morrissey and as such the success of the film is owed entirely to him.

Blood For Dracula is more a sexploitation film than a horror film. The Dracula mythos is perverted by Morrissey into a tale of class warfare. Blood For Dracula is a move back from the excessive gore and horrors of Flesh For Frankenstein and towards the minimalism of Heat (1972). Both Blood For Dracula and Heat center around limited locations and focus on the conflicts between the upper and lower economic classes. In both instances sex is the primary milieu in which these conflicts play out; pitting the ailing ruling class against the sexually robust working class.

Joe Dallesandro again plays a stud whose primary function is to provide sexual pleasures to young women. The women are the daughters of a fallen aristocrat rather than the scene-makers of contemporary New York. Dallesandro’s class conscience posturing isn’t rooted in living on the streets this time, instead he is a socialist awaiting a Marxist revolution. Essentially Morrissey combines Dallesandro’s characters from Flesh (1968) and Flesh For Frankenstein into a new character.

Udo Kier’s Count Dracula is a continuation of the impotency at the heart of Morrissey’s film Trash (1970). In Blood For Dracula that impotency is the result of a lack of virgin’s blood in the Count’s diet. But by making Count Dracula into a dirty invalid Morrissey effectively lambasts bourgeois values. Count Dracula is akin to the Sally Todd (Sylvia Miles) character in Heat who preys on youths in order to find a sense of relevancy. Count Dracula isn’t a vampire who is threatening because of his supernatural powers, but is threatening because of his status, title, and the manipulations that they entitle him too.

Morrissey’s script deals in broad and campy strokes. Yet, Morrissey’s direction solicits wholly committed and sincere performances from his actors that has the effect of creating a kind of dreamy space of heightened unreality. Blood For Dracula looks like the Gothic horrors of the preceding decade but the operation of its dramaturgy and direction subverts its genre. In this post-modern complex Paul Morrissey dismantles the vampire picture with the bluntness of an axe hacking off limbs.

Believe it or not but Blood For Dracula is a far more subtler film that its sister picture Flesh For Frankenstein. With these companion films Paul Morrissey left behind the underground film world of Andy Warhol. In this respect these two films mark a step towards an aesthetic maturity on Morrissey’s part that predicts the masterful historical epic Beethoven’s Nephew (1985) some ten years later. Blood For Dracula could just as easily be paired with Beethoven’s Nephew as with Flesh For Frankenstein on a double bill.