Monday, August 31, 2009

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002)

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin´s Diary is a 2002 horror film 
directed by Guy Maddin. It is a silent interpretation of the Royal 
Winnipeg Ballet´s take of Bram Stoker´s Dracula. It was 
originaly filmed as a telefilm for CBC Television in Canada, but 
critical and popular acclaim brought it to a United States 
theatrical release.

"Bruce Diones in The New Yorker declared that 
“Maddin has discovered a new kind of cinema, the 
welding of silent-film technique, avant-garde imagery, 
and 21st century technology....Victorian sexuality and 
melodrama are brought together in a shadowy world 
of expressionistic images and an athletic, almost rabid, 


In 1897, a visitor from the East, Dracula, arrives in London and is 
inadvertenly invited into the home of Lucy. She is bitten by Dracula, 
and taken by his curse. Lucy´s behavior becomes more erratic 
leading her to bite her fiancée. Lucy is immediately put under the 
care of Dr. Van Helsing. Van Helsing does blood tests on Lucy and 
declares "Vampyre!" as the source of the problem, and puts Lucy 
to bed adormed with garlic. That night, Renfield, a mental patient 
who lives in the asylum next to Lucy´s mother awakens in the
commotion. Panicked by the demons, Lucy´s Mother opens the
door and inadvertenly re-invites Dracula into the house. Both 
Lucy and her mother are killed in this incident and funeral 
procession takes place. The next day, Renfield is recaptured and 
placed back into the mental hospital. Bizarre incidents begin to
occur around the city with newspapers headlines proclaiming a 
"Bloofer Lady" who has been murdering infants. Renfiled is
interrogated and confesses tha Dracula has brought Lucy back 
from the dead commintting these deeds and the solution to the 
problem lies in the graveyard. Van Helsing and Lucy´s suitors 
go there and spy Dracula and the undead Lucy in a full romantic 
embrace. After Dracula leaves, Van Helsing declares "We must 
destroy the false Lucy so the real one may live forever".
When Van Helsing opens the Lucy´s coffin, Lucy rises out and 
attacks the men. Lucy is eventually subdued by a piercing stab 
from Jonathan´s long wooden stakes and decapitation with a 
shovel by Van Helsing who then declares they must find and 
defeat the Vampyre.

Van Helsing and his men go to ingterrogate Renfiled finding out tha 
Dracula´s next plan is to attack Lucy´s best friend Mina. Menawhile, 
Mina who is in a conevt aids her injured fiancée Harker. Renfiled 
revels to Van Helsing of Harker´s journey to Castle Dracula where 
Harker intented finalize a land sale. Upon arriving, harker is ravaged 
by three Brides of  Dracula who overpower him. Harker eventually 
finalizes the land deal for Darcula, and gets placed in imprisonment 
in his Castle. Harker escapes, finding himself under the care of the 
convent´s inhabitants. Renfield explains thar Van Helsing should 
seek past the Convent and towards Castle Dracula. in the covent, 
Mina arrives to greet Harker. mina finds his diary, as Harker 
cautiosly allows Mina to learn of his plaesures with the Brides of 
Dracula be known to her. With what she has discovered about 
Harker, Mina becomes becomes progressively more sexually 
aggressive which Harker nervous as he flees with the diary. 
Mina attempts to follow Harker but comes face to face with 
Dracula, who kidnaps her takes her to Castle Dracula.

In Castle Dracula, Dracula woos Mina, tempting her with offers os 
riches and eventually biting her on the neck, solidifying his curse on 
her. Harker, Van Helsing, and his men break into Dracula´s castle 
dispatch the Brides of Dracula with long wooden stakes. The men 
eventually stumble upon Mina and find the mark of Dracula´s bite 
upon her. Attempting to root out Dracula, the men smash coffins 
and place Christian crosses in them. Dracula attacks the men. 
After the battle, Dracula and Mina are the only two left conscious. 
Mina scurries to a windows with a cross and pulls it open to have 
sunlight which stuns Dracula. At this point the men regain 
consciousness, surround Dracula, and stab him with their stakes. 
The castle is demolished by Van Helsing´s men and everyone 
departs. Dracula es left hanging motionless, impaled on a giant 

Deviantions from the novel


Like most of Maddin´s films which are filmed in a style that 
imitates aerly talkie films, Darcula, pages from a Virgin´s Diary 
is shot in silent film tradition complete with title cards and some 
mimicked special effects of the time such as tinted screen color, 
shadow play, and vaseline on the camera lens to create a blurry 
effect. The film is not entirely monochrome, often computer 
generated special effects are used to allow bright, acidic colours 
to be seen in normally black and white scenes, such as golden 
coins, green bank notes and red blood in a otherwise 
monochrome shot.

Unique to this film stylistically is that Dracula has an abundance 
of ballet with nearly its entire cast being part of the Royal 
Winnipeg Ballet. Large portions of this film are expressed the 

The film also gently mocks or plays with some conventions of 
the "Dracula" story. For example, Jonathan harker´s account 
of his imprisonment in Dracula´s castle, wich takes up the 
whole firts section of Bram Stoker´s novel, is relegated to a 
single brief scene midway through the film. Presented at an 
accelerated speed, as if shot with an old under-cranked camera, 
the scene is punctuated with suggestive and humorous title 
cards. Most notable is "infants for supper?" a mild, if 
incredulous inquiry which stands in for the horror Jonathan 
usually expresses when Dracula presents his brides with a bay 
to eat.

  • Zhang Wei-Qiang - Dracula
  • Tara Birtwhistle - Lucy Westenra
  • David Moroni - Dr. Van Helsing
  • CindyMarie Small - Mina
  • Johnny Wright - Jonathan Harker
  • Brent Neale - Renfield

The film a limited theatrical release, but came to popular 
critical acclaim with an 84% averange rating on Metacritic 
and an 85% "Flesh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger 
Ebert gave the film 31/2 stars out of 4, writing: "Dracula: 
pages from a Virgin´s Diary" is not concerned with the 
story mechanics of moving from A to B. At times it feels 
almost like one of those old silent films where scenes have 
gone missing and there are jumps in the chronology. This 
is not a problem but an enhancement, creating for us the 
sensation of glimpsing sntaches of a dream. So many 
films are more or less alike that it´s jolting to see a film 
that deals with a familiar story, but looks like no other.

>>Awards and nominations:

Festival de Cine de Sitges:
  • Win: Best Film - Guy Maddin
International Emmy Awards:
  • Win: Best Performing Arts Program - Canada
Directors Guild of Canada:
  • Nominated: DGC Craft Award - Guy maddin
Blizzard Awards:
  • Win: best Art Direction - Deanne Rohde, Ricardo Alms

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Howl of the Devil (1988)

This film (in spanish 'El Aullido del Diablo') is a terror film made in 1988 film directed by Paul Naschy, wich returns as the owner of an estate where a mysterious family secret causes horrible things to occur. He also cameos famous monster roles including: the wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Phantom of the Opera, Fu Manchu, the Devil and more. A very bloody and gory film containing knifings, axe murders, throat cuttings and many other graphic mutilations. This may be his finest effort and is not to be missed by true fans. Also starring Caroline Munro, Howard Vernon, Sergio Molina and Fernando Hilbeck.

We found in 'The Howl of the Devil' a delicious and amusing terror film, that evokes the classical Universal and Hammer's films, under the vision of Naschy, fan of these films. 'The Howl of the Devil' now is a rare and cult film for the Naschy's fans and the spanish terror fans in general.

Screen-shots of the film. Via

At we found the complete plot and more information about this film:

Someday my reign will end and you will rule, you, the anti-Christ."

The above quote is the very last line of dialogue in Paul Naschy's most personal and self-reflexive horror film. Personal in the sense that his own son, Sergio Molina, appears in a key role and the project appears to be Naschy's review (with commentary) on his own career as writer, actor and director. It is the first of his horror films signed with his screen, Paul Naschy, rather than his real name, Jacinto Molina. It's as if he is acknowledging his unique place in the history of Spanish horror even in the film's credits. Immediately following the main credits is a telling dedication to Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney and Jack Pierce (the creator of the make-up of so many of the classic Universal monsters). The fact that the legendary make-up artist's name is placed alongside such more familiar horror legends as Karloff and Lugosi is especially interesting in this context. HOWL OF THE DEVIL is, if anything, a kind of cinematic equivalent to "Famous Monsters of Filmland," and Naschy appears as the Frankenstein monster, Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fu Manchu, just to name a few.

The film is set in modern, post General Franco Spain. In a way, it could be read as an allegory of a new era haunted by old mythologies. A parallel can be found to Luis Bunuel's VIRIDIANA, made during the repressive Franco regime, where the estate itself could be Spain straining under the burden of neglect and fear. Hector Doriani (Paul Naschy) is a disturbed ex-actor, who despite a respectable career, remains bitter that his late brother, Alex, was more famous for his many horror roles. Alex is also played by Naschy (in a flashback) and a clip from PANIC BEATS, watched by young Sergio on video, defines the late 1980s as an era which saw the start of an interest in European horror by fans all over the world. Sergio is representative of that generation, and the ultimate fate of his character is made all the more disturbing by that connection.

The Beutiful Munro...

This is the new Spain where XXX films are allowed and hookers can hitckhike in open only to get picked up by the awful Dr Orloff himself, Howard Vernon. They are then delivered to the actor's villa for well paid, perverted sex games after which they are graphically disemboweled by a killer wearing black gloves (perhaps a reference to the gialli of Dario Argento?). Vernon tells a victim that Time has stopped in this household and indeed it has. All the famous monsters are trotted out for the edification of our (and Paul Naschy's) fandom. But an even more sinister force than the twisted Doriani watches from concealed areas. Is it the vengeful spirit of Alex Doriani, or Satan himself?

Spanish Catholicism is given a workover through Fernando Hilbeck's hypocritical priest, who rapes a guilt ridden servant (Caroline Munro) after she refuses to resume an affair. Naschy pans up to Christ on the cross, reminding us of the crucifixion of the title character in his 1979 masterwork, EL CAMINANTE. This is Spanish horror, after all, and Naschy delivers throat cuttings, guttings, ax murders, torture, sexual mutilation and more. It's all to a purpose, though. He makes us question our expectations of horror cinema while going over the top of our wildest dreams. It's all bound together by the great Fernando Garcia Morcillo's oppressive score.

With such icons as Vernon and Munro in the cast, Naschy playing a double role, and the superb supporting cast of Spanish horror vets, we are treated to an acting workshop which demonstrates how to intelligently cast a horror film. It's obvious, as a writer, Naschy put a lot of thought into the scenario, and the layered references to Hollywood and Euro cinefantastique are numerous and awesome to behold. Needless to say, multiple viewings are absolutely essential. Rich in metaphor and dazzling in its detailed gallery of creatures, HOWL OF THE DEVIL is the Euro cult film to end all Euro cult films. Going back to our opening quotation, the end promises an evil era. The world dominated by the Anti-Christ. Could it already be upon us?

EL AULLIDO DEL DIABLO is the last significant horror film made by Paul Naschy. Unlike the more recent LICANTROPO, Naschy had a certain amount of control, as co-producer and director, in DIABLO. The film was meant to be more accessible to English-speaking audiences and possibly re-introduce Naschy to British and American movie-goers, this time heralding his first major appearance in an "English-language" film. Filming began in English, and Naschy used a known English cast, Caroline Munro and Howard Vernon, to supplement the Anglo effect he was going for. Reportedly, the English-language script was an awkward word for word translation of the Spanish original, and Caroline Munro had to smooth it out to make it sound right. In a "making of" featurette, one can see how Spanish cast members were prompted/aided by off-camera line readings in English. Apparently all this effort was for naught, as an English language version of this film has never shown up (nor has the film ever had a theatrical showing in England or the United States). There is an indication that shooting in English was eventually dispensed with as being more trouble than it was worth, but work may have been possibly left over for post-dubbing. Whatever the case, post-production difficulties, including the death of a producer, relegated the film to an unfortunate limbo, with only later Spanish television showings giving it an "official" light of day.

For Naschy, this film was a personal statement on the horror genre and the cruel response of critics to his art. As an actor, he had a field day paying homage to a legendary cast of horror characters, from the Phantom of the Opera to Fu Manchu. The film is indispensible viewing for any fan of Paul Naschy and for the general afficiando or student of horror cinema.

We are proud to be a Naschy fan!!

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dracula (Bram Stoker’s) (1992)

™ and ©1992 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Topps
Comics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Topps Company, Inc.
This four-issue mini-series contains the official comics adaptation
of the Francis Ford Coppola film, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

Vlad Dracula began life as a vicious and brutal Romanian prince who
drove 30,000 Turks from Constantinople in the name of the church
in 1462. But when his wife’s suicide forever damned her, he
renounced God.

Hundreds of years later, in1897, a mysterious Count Dracula drew a
young, ambitious lawyer named Jonathan Harker to a castle in
Transylvania. If Harker can survive the strange creatures that inhabit
the castle, he will return to Mina, his true love in London. However,
Dracula is bound for London as well.

Scripted by comics legend Roy Thomas, with art by the stylistically
dark Mike Mignola, the Coppola version of Dracula follows the
Bram Stoker original more closely than earlier film versions of the
tale. Each issue may also contain an “Inside Coppola’s Dracula”
special feature with essays and photos related to the movie.

>>Monsters galore:

-Mike Mignola.

Mignola was born around 1962. He grew up in the Bay Area of
California, developing an early passion for monster stories,
particularly those in comic books. He experienced a defining
moment when, as a sixth grader, he read Bram Stoker's classic
horror novel Dracula. In an interview with Neda Ulaby on National
Public Radio's (NPR) Morning Edition, Mignola recalled: "When I
read Dracula, I said, 'I'm done. I'm done picking that other stuff.
I found my thing.'" He explained to Brayshaw, "It's not just that I
started liking monsters—it's that I started liking monsters to the
exclusion of everything else." His reading choices thereafter
consisted of ghost stories and other tales of the scary and
supernatural, as well as myths, or ancient stories handed down
through the generations, from cultures all over the world.

"Basically, it's taking everything I've been reading since high
school, everything I ever liked, everything I ever read, old movies,
tons of pulp magazines and stuff I read in college, fairy tales—all
that stuff I've read, going back to Dracula in sixth grade, all that
stuff I've been thinking about since then, I boiled it all down and
made it into Hellboy."

Mignola knew even during childhood that he wanted to grow up
to be a comic book artist. He even knew he wanted to live in New
York City. Growing up in California, Mignola never learned to drive.
He explained to Brayshaw that he figured, "'Eventually you're going
to live in New York, so don't bother learning how to drive. They
have taxis there.'" His lifelong goal—to simply find a job drawing
monsters—may seem modest, but Mignola pursued that goal with
a passionate intensity. After graduating from the California College
of Arts and Crafts in 1982, Mignola headed straight for New York.
He had some connections in the comics industry, having done a
short inking job for Marvel Comics. His first attempts at finding
work were mildly successful, but after six months he returned to
California, hoping to obtain long-distance freelance work from
the New York-based comics companies. When those offers
dwindled, Mignola headed back to the East Coast again, and his
persistence finally paid off. He began to get regular work
illustrating comic books and covers.

In 1983 Mignola got his first series work as the penciler—the
person creating a comic's initial drawings based on the writer's
plot—for Marvel's Rocket Raccoon, a four-issue work featuring
the title character, a time-traveling law enforcement officer.
Mignola also worked on several superhero titles and did some
illustrating for The Incredible Hulk comic books. In 1988 Mignola
left Marvel to work for rival DC Comics. At that time, with the
1986 start of Alan Moore's The Watchmen and Frank Moore's The
Dark Knight Returns series, DC had made great strides in the
field of comic books and graphic novels aimed at adult readers.
The dark, often violent subject matter of such comics appealed
to Mignola, and at DC he established his reputation as an exciting
and notable artist. He provided illustrations for Jim Starlin's
Cosmic Odyssey and created the covers for the series Batman:
A Death in the Family. One of his projects at DC involved plotting
a Batman story in which the superhero confronts a ghostly villain.
He enjoyed crafting the story's plot as well as creating its images,
and began thinking he would like to try it again. A few years later
he got that opportunity.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Countess Dracula (1972)

A Peter Sasdy Hammer's film (1972), this vampire's story tell us about the medieval Europe and one of his worths knightmare, Erzebet Bathory.

The Countess Dracula, Elizabeth Nadàsdy(Ingrid Pitt) lives with the youth-obssession. She wants to be younger at last, and the only way is the blood of virginal girls. Pools of blood are ready for the countess with the companion of her waitress and her strange lover, Captain Dobi, wich give the victims to the bloody countess.The terrible story starts with the dead of Count Nodosheen.


Count Nodosheen has died, and all have gathered to hear the reading of his will. To Julie Sentash [Patience Collier], the castle nurse, he leaves 1,000 koronas and food and lodging for the rest of her days. To Master Fabio [Maurice Denham], the castle historian, he leaves his library. To Lt Imre Toth [Sander Eles], son of his old army companion, he leaves his stable, horses, and cottage. To his aging wife Elisabeth [Ingrid Pitt], he leaves his estate to be shared equally with their only child Ilona. And to Captain Dobi [Nigel Green], the castle steward, he leaves his arms and uniforms. Dobi isn't pleased with his bequeathal after 20 years of service, but there is one thing he's happy about. After 20 years as the Countess's secret lover, Dobi finally has her to himself. Not that the Countess is equally as happy to have Dobi, for she is too distracted by young Imre's good looks and youthful manhood.

However, there is much to do. Ilona, who has lived in Vienna since she was six years old and is now a grown woman of 19 years, is returning to the castle on the morrow. The Countess, who is not known for her kindness, is preparing to bathe, when she notices that chambermaid Teri [Susan Brodrick] has made the bathwater too hot. After chastizing Teri, Elisabeth requests a peach. The frightened maid, in slicing the peach, also slices herself. Some of her blood spills on the Countess' face, and Elisabeth later notices that she looks much younger. Dobi is astonished at the change in Elisabeth, but he won't go so far as to bring Teri to her, so Elisabeth goes to Teri. The next morning, Teri is missing, and Elisabeth looks half her age. Knowing that her daughter is due to arrive and not wanting any competition, Elisabeth arranges to have Ilona [Lesley-Anne Down] kidnapped en route and held captive in a cabin in the woods with only the mute old gamekeeper Janco [Peter May] for companionship. That evening at dinner, Elisabeth presents herself as her daughter, saying that her mother is not feeling well. Imre is smitten with her beauty and so starts the love affair between Ilona/Elisabeth and young Imre...much to Dobi's dismay.

Two nights the lovers spend in each other's arms, and Elisabeth has never been happier. Then, sometime during the second night, she suddenly reverts to her old self (literally). Knowing that Elisabeth must have the blood of another girl, Julie invites a gypsy girl [Nike Arrighi] into the castle to read Elisabeth's fortune and become her next victim. And so it goes. Imre courts Ilona/Elisabeth, Julie finds fresh blood every few nights, and Dobi seethes in jealousy. Imre, utterly obsessed with Elisabeth, asks her to marry him. Elisabeth says yes.

Dobi has had enough. He wants his Elisabeth back and decides to set Imre up. Dobi and Imre go drinking together one night, and Dobi arranges for Ziza [Andrea Lawrence], the pub whore, to accompany Imre home and sleep with him. Dobi makes Elisabeth watch. Elisabeth decides to use Ziza's blood when she suddenly turns old again, but it doesn't work. Master Fabio, who is beginning to catch on, informs them that it must be the blood of a virgin, so Dobi buys the plainest girl he can find, thinking she could only be a virgin. Elisabeth's beauty restored, she begins to make plans for the wedding.

Meanwhile, Ilona has a plan to escape her captivity. She pretends to offer herself to the mute. While he is slobbering over her, Ilona steals the key from his pocket and gets away...only to fall into a stream where he catches her and carries her back. Fabio is getting wise, so Dobi has him hanged. Then Dobi takes Imre to Elisabeth who confesses her real identity. Imre is appalled, but Elisabeth assures him that he will be charged with the whore's murder if he should leave her, so there is no escape for him. Plus, the chief bailiff sends away all the serving girls and sequesters the castle until Fabio's killer can be found. With all the girls gone, Elisabeth has no virgins at hand, so she pleads with Dobi to sneak a girl into the castle for when needed. Dobi promises to do so, but the girl he brings is Elisabeth's own daughter, the real Ilona. When Julie finds out that Ilona, the child she nannied since birth, is to be the next sacrifice, she can tolerate Elisabeth's depravities no longer. She introduces Imre to Ilona and tells him that he must get Julie away. They make plans for Julie to free Ilona tomorrow during the wedding ceremony.

It is the day of the wedding. Elisabeth is radiant. Imre is resolved to his fate. As the ceremony begins, Julie fetches Ilona and leads her to escape. But Ilona hears the music and the priest's voice and refuses to go until she's had a peek. As Ilona watches, Elisabeth suddenly turns old, shocking the priest. Elisabeth runs out, looking for she who is to be the next victim. Imre tries to stop her, but he is stabbed and killed by the knife being carried by Elisabeth herself. Elisabeth is subsequently imprisoned and known thereafter by the villagers as Countess Dracula, devil woman.

[About the sensual bloodsucker, the Countess]

Polish-born actress Ingrid Pitt's erotically supercharged presence is the highlight of this double bill of vampire chills from Hammer Films. In Countess Dracula, Pitt stars as an aging noblewoman (inspired by the real-life Erzebeth Bathory) who discovers the secret to eternal youth in the veins of young virgins, while in The Vampire Lovers (based on J. Sheridan LeFanu's "Carmilla"),

Pitt's sensuous bloodsucker seduces Hammer starlets Madeleine Smith and Kate O'Mara and incurs the vengeful wrath of Peter Cushing. Countess is the more sober of the two films, with Jeremy Paul's script and Peter Sadsy's direction playing out more like an Old Dark House mystery than Hammer horror, while Lovers' aims for comic-book thrills with plenty of nudity and violence (much of which was trimmed from the American version, but reinstated here); in both cases, Pitt's sexy/scary performances make this DVD a memorably viewing experience for vintage and new-school horror fans alike.

Pitt, the 'hairy red goddess' inspirated Roy Ward Baker for his Hammer's film, 'Vampire Lovers'...but this is another bloody and sexy story...

Sweet bites

Le Vixen Fatale

Monday, August 3, 2009

Las Cicatrices de Dracula (1970)

Scars of Dracula is a 1970 British horror film directed by Roy
Ward Baker for Hammer Studios. It breaks continuity with
Hammer's previous Dracula vehicle Taste the Blood of Dracula.

It stars Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, alongside Dennis
Waterman, Jenny Hanley, Patrick Troughton, and Michael Gwynn.

Although disparaged by some critics, the film does restore a few
elements of Bram Stoker's original character: The Count is
introduced as an "icily charming host"; he has command over
nature; and he is seen scaling the walls of his castle. It also gives
Lee more to do and say than any other Hammer Dracula film
except its first, 1958's Horror of Dracula.

>>Plot summary

A prologue shows local villagers rising up and setting fire to
Castle Dracula. But when they return home, they find bats have
swarmed inside the church where their women were waiting.
Every single woman and child in the village is dead...

After being caught with the burgomasters' daughter, libertine
Paul Carlson flees by jumping into a nearby coach. This deposits
him near Count Dracula's mountaintop castle and there he
becomes Dracula's latest victim.

His more sober brother Simon Carlson and his fiancee Sarah
Framsen come searching for him and end up fighting the Prince
of Darkness.