As an epilogue to Halloween and a follow-up to my vampire-connoisseur friend's ten-favorite list from last week, here is his possibly more controversial chronological list of his least favorite vampire flicks. As a reminder, Wendigo is an ecumenical vampire fan; he does not believe that certain presentations of vampires are "wrong." The films that make this list did not violate some set notion of what a vampire should or should not be, but are, in his view, badly performed or simply badly made.
On a personal note, since Wendigo submitted this list we sat down together to watch Al Adamson's Blood of Dracula's Castle. I'm ready to say that Alex D'Arcy's Count Townsend is easily one of the worst cinematic vampires ever, but Wendigo would rather not pick on easy targets.
1. House of Frankenstein (1944). Universal's monster-rally is a mess that fails to live up to its concept by never having the monsters interact with one another. Wendigo actually thinks that the Dracula episode featuring John Carradine is the best part of the film, but it irritated him to have the vampire out of the picture so quickly. He respects Carradine's interpretation of Dracula, but thinks Long John was better in House of Dracula and slips too often the first time out into "southern gentleman" territory. His part of House of Frankenstein seems too much like a throwaway that inevitably frustrates a vampire fan. The film as a whole is far less than the sum of its parts.
2. Blood of Dracula (1957). A rare pre-Hammer female vampire film that completely fails to exploit any opportunity to emphasize the seductive succubus aspect of the menace, choosing instead to put a bug-eyed monster makeup on the vampire and burdening her with pseudo-science explanations that put it more in line with Poverty Row schlock from the 1940s while maintaining the slightest connection to Dracula. This may strike some as an easy target because it's a low-budget independent production, but it's such a wasted opportunity for its time that Wendigo thinks it belongs on the list.
4. Count Dracula (1970). Jess Franco's version is one of the most overrated Dracula movies despite a new and admirable approach to the character by Christopher Lee. Unfortunately, no one else involved in the production lives up to his work. The hero (a vague amalgam of Stoker's male protagonists) is hopelessly dull, while Klaus Kinski gives an inexplicably acclaimed performance as a Renfield so understated that it borders on somnambulism. He is a vacuum on film that brings the story's momentum to a halt whenever he appears. This is a huge missed opportunity to do justice to Stoker's story. Lest you think Wendigo has it out for Franco, he notes that Vampyros Lesbos is one euro-vampire film that he likes.
5. Lust For A Vampire (1971). The third Karnstein film from Hammer falls on its face with an obvious drop in production values. The film has nothing new to say and the actress, though attractive, has no way to say it. By now, not even dropping her top can keep you interested in yet another do-over of standard tropes (not to mention a bald do-over of The Vampire Lovers) that shows no real effort on the studio's part to raise the stakes of transgression. A typical product of Hammer in its decline that fails on all levels.
As the cartoon Dracula of our collective unconsciousness says, "Blah, Blah!" to all involved.