Friday, February 22, 2013

Vampiress Review: "Vampira" (Old Dracula)

The Gist: After an experiment to bring Count Dracula's wife back to life goes wrong and turns her black, Dracula travels to London in an effort to "cure" her.

Clarification: Basically Count Dracula had turned his home into a tourist attraction where people could stay the night in a vampire themed castle. There he would drug them and drain them of their blood and bottle it while they slept hoping to find a rare blood type that would cure his wife "Vampira" of a blood disease that resulted in her having to be frozen to prevent her death.  One evening a group of Playboy Playmates stay at the castle and one of them happened to have the magic blood type to cure Vampira.  That blood ends up getting mixed with the blood of one of the black playmates resulting in "Vampira" being cured and brought back to life but now as a black woman.

This film is a British attempt at capitalizing on the Blaxploitation craze which had taken over the US film industry in the 1970s.  The running joke of the film revolves around how much Vampira loves being a black woman in the 1970's and how ridiculously uncomfortable Count Dracula is about being married to a black woman.   Dracula spends the entire movie trying to keep Vampira from being seen in public with her "condition" but Vampira takes to the 1970's party lifestyle so well the last thing she wants to do is stay cooped up inside. 

Selling Point: The movie is funny and you FINALLY get to see Linda Hayden with fangs no thanks to Hammer!

Female Vampire Factor: We have two in this film...

Linda Hayden (Helga)
As I have stated in the past, the fact that she wasn't turned in "Taste the Blood of Dracula" irked me to no end.  This film makes that snub a little less painful even if her time as a bloodsucker was only temporary.  Helga was a student who was working part time at Dracula's castle as Dracula's sexy vampire bride during the tourist attraction.  One day she shows up and tells Dracula's servant (who plays Dracula during the attraction) that she's turning in her resignation because she's tired of spending the day in a coffin.  He then tricks her into going to the wine cellar with him but actually locks her up in a cell.  Dracula is then asked to bite her in order to keep her there long enough for her to work the attraction for the playmates coming in but he ends up drinking too much and turns her into a full vampire (top scene).  Dracula ends up having to host the dinner himself as the now vampire Helga tries to bite every neck she goes near (bottom scene).  Sadly after the dinner Drac has her destroyed with a crossbow.  

Teresa Graves (Vampira)
It's never said when exactly Vampira was turned but by the way she acts I highly doubt it was that long before she went under which according to the movie was 50 years prior to the present day of the time which would put it around 1924.  She is obviously much younger than Dracula and she is definitely in 1920's attire when we first see her and begins to listen to 20's style flapper music when she wakes up.  This is in complete contrast to Dracula who seems stuck in stereotypical Dracula ways.  With her overly positive response to changing races it also eludes to the fact that she was definitely brought up in a much more open minded time period than that of Vlad the Impaler.  Anyway it doesn't take her long to blend end to the 70's London vibe and by the end of the movie we find that she's bi-sexual as well.  Honestly don't see the problem here Drac.

I'm a huge fan of this film and an even bigger fan of the late Teresa Graves portrayal of Vampira.  The one complaint I have is that even with her name being the title of the film it wasn't really about her but Dracula and his problem with her.  In the US they fix the issue by naming it "Old Dracula" but I just believe the movie would have been much more entertaining had it been about the sexy black vampire going crazy and feeding on everyone in the London party scene (which seemed to be what the character wanted to do).  Either way there is still enough of her for the film to get a Vampire Beauty Rating of 4 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. Glad to finally see Linda Hayden with a set of fangs. So frustrating she was never turned in Taste the Blood.