Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wendigo Meets DRACULA THE DIRTY OLD MAN (1969)

Either way, it was going to be an ordeal. The next movie on my friend Wendigo's to-do pile for our vampire series was Vampirella. I was steeling myself for the task when he reminded me that it was my turn to provide a film, the Larry Talbot movies having come from his collection. That meant it was finally time for him to discover William Edwards's attempt at softcore horror-comedy.

What did he see? "Honestly, not a whole lot," he reports, "Basically, we have your standard plot of European vampire moving to America, establishing himself in a run-down location, picking some schmoo to be his local lackey and sending this poor retard to maim, kill, and retrieve food for him."

"Food," in this case, is women. "They are food for Dracula and for his lackey, who is transformed from hapless reporter to novice jackalman simply by the vampire's will. Dracula may as well say 'poof!' and make it so. But like Andreas from The Return of the Vampire, Irving Jackalman eventually resists the vampire's will. In this case it's because he wants a woman to rape, and Dracula won't let him. So they slap one another around, Dracula bashes in Irving's head with a rock (that already has Irving's blood painted on!), then just happens to stagger backwards out of his cave into the sunlight. Noticing his peril, he staggers back inside, and into his coffin. But it's too late. His hand becomes a skeleton, and then his whole coffin disappears, as do the female victims he's left hanging naked on scaffolds, and the scaffolds -- for a while. The vampire's demise cures Irving of jackalmanhood, and he celebrates by screwing his girlfriend in the cave, just after she's finally thrown her clothes back on after running through the cave for long minutes, never noticing the cave entrance within twenty feet of where she'd started. That may sound silly, but the scenes of the woman running through the cave clad only in her shoes is actually one the few highlights of the film."

Werewolf (well, jackalman) and vampire on a collision course of terror!

As far as Wendigo is concerned, the main highlights of the movie are some of the semi and unclad women, and the highlight of the Something Weird DVD, in his opinion, are the trailers for other movies. "On a scale of 1 to 5," he says, "I give it shit." He declares it the worst feature-length vampire film he's ever seen, topping the recently crowned champion, 2008's The Thirst: Blood War and the legendary Polish Vampire in Burbank. These films, at least, didn't nearly put him into a coma -- though one of the short subjects, the brain-calcifying Dracula and the Dirty Old Witch, pulled off that coup.

Dracula the Dirty Old Man is a singular film. Its original soundtrack was scrapped at one point and replaced with a dub track designed to make it the comedy it had to be. The comic inspiration of William Edwards was to give his vampire the voice of a generic Borscht Belt standup comedian rather than the stock "blah, blah" Bela accent. There's no attempt to claim that "Count Alucard" (which a title card helpfully explains is "Dracula spelled backwards") is Jewish. It's just that Edwards's idea of humor had a Jewish accent, or a dim recollection of one. The dubbing artist seems to be making it up as he goes along, and just barely at times, repeating stock phrases like "I'm gonna [do something to you] like you won't believe!" and returning to the one original concept of the movie, the idea of a hierarchy of jackalmen. Irving, being just created, is only a novice jackalman. If he pleases his master by delivering cute girls for him to ravish before biting them on "the good place," he can be promoted to the rank of second-class jackalman. This is entirely up to Dracula's whim, but Irving learns fast. When he accidentally kills a woman while raping her in her apartment ("I musta bit too deep again") he realizes that "it's back to novice jackalman," despite his heroic attempt to resuscitate the woman by humping her some more.

Victims: Stricken by the jackalman's claws (above) and the vampire's bite (below!)

While I respect the female form at least as much as Wendigo does, I think Irving Jackalman is the best thing about the film. He's so ludicrously cute as he goes about killing and raping and muttering like Popeye that you don't mind that he's never punished for his crimes. The dude tore up at least four people (it's hard to keep track when you were nodding off every so often), leaving some gory scenes behind, and only revolts against an admittedly revolting master because he wants to rape another girl. It's not exactly Andreas finding his goodness at the point of death, but I suppose you can argue that the poor reporter wasn't himself when Irving was on the prowl.

"Irving Jackalman strikes again -- heh heh!"

Make no mistake: this film is inept at every level. The cave set barely qualifies as a set, the bat effects (on a stick!) are indisputably the worst ever, and (our admiration for some of the actresses aside) it fails almost completely as softcore porn. As a failed comedy it's in the danger zone of eligibility for Worst Movie of All Time, but I think it has just enough distinguishing eccentricity to save it from infamy. Just bear in mind that this is a comedy you'll be laughing at rather than with.
* * *

Dracula the Dirty Old Man headlines a Something Weird DVD from the good old days of their Image Entertainment deal, packed with extras. Along with the trailers and promo art galleries, there's a second feature (Guess What Happened to Count Dracula, to be covered later), the aforementioned debacle Dracula and the Dirty Old Witch and another good-sized short, Sex and the Single Vampire. This one is worthy of note because it compels me to report that a young John C. Holmes as the disgruntled-then-(slightly) aroused vampire, is probably the best actor on the entire disc. Judge the contents accordingly.

Or simply judge from this clip uploaded to Dailymotion by scootaway:

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