Dracula Saga, The (US - DVD R1)
Gabe endures one of the longest ninety minute 'sagas' of his entire existence...
With the bloodline running dry Count Dracula puts all his hopes for the family in his granddaughter’s unborn son. The only problem is that his granddaughter doesn’t know she’s sprung from Vampire loins. To ensure the healthy birth of his heir the Count and his harem must keep the mother in the castle... against her will if necessary.
Dracula—the second most filmed character in the history of cinema (just behind Sherlock Holmes). More then two hundred adaptations have graced the silver screen, from Max Schreck and Bela Legosi, to Christopher Lee and, erm, Richard Roxburgh. What could Spanish schlock-meister León Klimovsky (director of the Paul Naschy cheese festival Vengeance of the Zombies) possibly have to offer the lexicon? Um, well, nothing, especially not to anyone that’s managed to catch one of the dozens of other ‘Dracula family tree’ motion pictures, or played a Castlevania video game, or even seen Rosemary’s Baby for that matter.
The title, The Dracula Saga implies a generation spanning epic. Klimovsky’s film is a mere ninety minute pseudo-artsy ham-hock that runs ragged along the same story rails as just about every vampire flick has since Tod Browning’s day. The acting is as ripe as a brown banana, the camera work is as static as the original Resident Evil video game, and the production values are downright chuckle worthy. I didn’t expect much from Klimovsky, but even on a MST3K level this film is a disappointment. The sub-chelonian pacing is the real killer. The first forty minutes tick on like an eternity, without a solitary intriguing plot twist, and mere splashes of the tamest nudity and violence. Then comes a never-ending diner scene, followed by boring exposition, and an extraordinarily awkward seduction sequence. It carries on from there.
The film isn’t a total wash, there are some enjoyably hammy performances among the brutally awful, some of the compositions are expressionistically lit, and the set design is not lacking for drama, though things never reach top tier Bava or Hammer levels. At the one hour and five minute mark the film does become infinitely more entertaining, if not bizarre, though one wonders what took them so long. For those that enjoy bad films for their especially horrible moments the general schlock is pretty memorable. A few key unintentional laughs include a chain link fence finding its way into shot, an adorable grey and white kitten literally thrown into frame as a cheap scare, a massively fluctuating pregnant belly, and one of the silliest monster designs you’ll ever see.
BCI/Eclipse does another solid job with this reasonably highly detailed full-frame transfer. General grain is heavy throughout, but doesn’t affect the transfer’s surprisingly potent fine details too much. There is a strange mesh effect throughout sections of the film, as if these sections were shot through a fish net. This isn’t a form of artefacting I’m familiar with, and its intensity fluctuates, as does the mesh’s colouring. The overall colour pallet is a bit flat, though the super-fake blood reds stick out without very much chunky compression issues. Skin tones are inconsistent, but given the film’s flimsy make-up conventions this is almost impossible to judge. Contrast is effective, though perhaps a little overdone, and black shades can differ greatly from shot to shot.
This is one of BCI/Eclipse’s weaker audio presentations. Both the English and Spanish Mono tracks are distorted and tinny. The overall effect isn’t too disruptive, but it isn’t pretty. Both tracks are terribly dubbed, though the voices of the Spanish track blend more gracefully with their surroundings. The English track is a lark and a half, and not a single voice matches the mouth or facets it’s coming out of. Flat and sparse sound effects don’t come as a surprise. The soundtrack, which is mostly made up of Bach, is the biggest issue for both tracks. Strings and harpsichords buzz at even mediated volume levels, and scrape like finger nails at their peak.
Extras are pretty sparse, and include the alternate Spanish credits, alternate scenes for territories that did not allow nudity when the film was released, and a series of trailers for this and other Spanish Horror Collection releases.
Thirty minutes of relatively entertaining schlock does not a good movie make. The Dracula Saga is only recommended to the most patient grindhouse connoisseurs. There’s plenty of better Spanish horror product out there, a lot of it from BCI/Eclipse, so I see no need for the rest of us to waste our time on this one.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 25th March 2008
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Castilian
Extras: Trailers, Alternate Titles, Clothed Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: León Klimovsky
Cast: Tony Isbert, Maria Koski, Helga Liné, Narciso Ibáñez Menta, Tina Sainz
Length: 90 minutes
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