Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman (1971)



La Noche de Walpurgis (translated as Walpurgis Night) is a
1971 Spanish horror movie starring Paul Naschy that is the
fourth in a series about the werewolf Count Waldemar
Daninsky. The film was directed by León Klimovsky and
written by Naschy and Hans Munkel.



The film has been issued in many different versions, and is
also known as Werewolf Shadow, Blood Moon, and The
Werewolf Vs. Vampire Woman.



>>Plot:

The corpse of Waldemar Daninsky [Paul Naschy] bears the
mark of the werewolf (a pentagram on his chest), so two
disbelieving coroners remove the silver bullets to prove to
themselves that there are no such things as werewolves.
Of course, the werewolf is immediately revived and kills the
two coroners on his way out the door.



Back in Paris, college students Elvira [Gaby Fuchs] and
Genevieve [Barbara Capell] are completing their "final thesis."
They've tracked down the tomb of the a 15th century Countess
Wandessa d'Arville de Nadasdy, a supposed witch and vampire.
The Countess's tomb is said to lie near a small village
somewhere in northern France, so the girls load up their car
and go in search of the place. Short on gas, daylight, and
directions, however, they accept an invitation to stay at the
rustic (meaning 'no lights, no phone, no motorcar')
countryhouse of writer Waldemar Daninsky. Over a dinner of
cold cuts and wine, Waldemar reveals that he's writing a book
about the history of gothic churches and monuments, but he
falls silent when Elvira mentions her search for Wandessa.



The girls retire for the night, but Elvira is awakened from her
sleep when Waldemar's sister Elizabeth [Yelena Samarina]
steals into the room, feels her up, attempts to strangle her,
and warns her to leave before the night of the full moon.
The next morning, Waldemar explains to Elvira that Elizabeth
lost her mental stability after the death of their father but that
she is harmless. Meanwhile, Genevieve explores the manor and
comes across a shack with blood on the walls and shackles
hanging from the ceiling. Then Genevieve is attacked by
Elizabeth, but Waldemar explains that the shackles are used to
hang game, so the girls decide to remain. In private, Waldemar
warns Elizabeth to leave the girls alone because they are his
"last hope."



Armed with papers, documents, and maps, Elvira, Genevieve,
and Waldemar go in search of Wandessa's tomb. They find and
open it uneventfully but Genevieve cuts her arm when she pulls
the silver Mayenza cross from the chest of Wandessa's cadaver,
and some of Genevieve's blood drips on Wandessa's lips. Later
that evening, of course, Wandessa [Patty Shepard] rises from her
coffin and calls Genevieve to join her in the garden where she
wets her whistle on Genevieve's blood and returns later for a
nightcap on Elizabeth. Genevieve, now a vampire, pops in for a
bite on Elvira, but Waldemar chases her away with the Mayenza
cross. With Genevieve and Elizabeth out of the way, Elvira
confesses her love for Waldemar (forgetting Marcel, her
policeman boyfriend back in Paris), and the two vow to fight
Wandessa together, although Waldemar must first take "certain
precautions" to ensure Elvira's safety because tonight is a full
moon. Waldemar wants Elvira to take the cross and spend the
night in the village, safely locked in a lodge there.



Elvira goes to the village. The full moon rises. Waldemar turns
into a werewolf and kills a camper. The next morning, Elvira
finds Waldemar wandering about in tattered clothes, so he tells
her how he became a werewolf while exploring Tibet and how
Elizabeth would chain him to a wall during full moons. Only being
stabbed in the heart with the Mayenza cross by someone who
loves him will release him from the curse. But first things first.
First, they have to destroy Wandessa. While Waldemar is out
hunting for her hiding place, Genevieve sates her thirst on Elvira.
Waldemar doesn't find Wandessa, but he does run into Genevieve
and destroys her, which releases Elvira and heals the bite marks
on her neck. Because it's another full moon tonight, Elvira places
Waldemar in shackles, but he escapes just in time to save Elvira
from being assaulted by Pierre [José Marco], the handyman.



The next morning, while Elvira is in bed with Waldemar, her
Parisien lover Marcel [Andres Resino] drives into town. He starts
asking around about Elvira's whereabouts and hears strange
stories about Waldemar Daninsky, black magic, vampires, and
young girls dying. Marcel finally gets a lead from Pierre's old
girlfriend and decides to pay Waldemar a visit. When Marcel
shows up at Waldemar's house, Elvira greets him with a less
than exuberant kiss, and Marcel realizes that something is
going on between Elvira and Waldemar. Marcel threatens to
launch a fullscale investigation into the rumors surrounding
Waldemar, so Waldemar talks Elvira into leaving with Marcel.



Tonight is Walpurgisnacht, the night when Satan rules the earth
and Wandessa will have all her powers. Thinking Elvira safe,
Waldemar steps up his search for Wandessa. However, Wandessa
is holding Marcel and Elvira in her lair while she prepares to make
Elvira a blood sacrifice to her Lord and Master, Satan. Just as
Wandessa is about to plunge the knife into Elvira, however,
Waldemar wanders in and rescues Elvira. But the full moon is on
the rise, and Waldemar transforms into a werewolf.



As Elvira and Marcel watch, vampire and werewolf battle it out.
The werewolf ultimately reduces the vampire to a bony shroud
crawling with waxworms. Elvira suddenly grabs the Mayenza
cross and, with all the love in her heart, plunges it into the
werewolf's heart. The werewolf turns back into Waldemar, and
Elvira and Marcel leave the tomb with their arms around each
other.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)



Dracula: Dead and Loving It is a 1995 comedy film directed by
Mel Brooks. It is a parody of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker,
and of some of the films it inspired.



In respect to plot and characters, the film follows the classic
Dracula (1931), starring Bela Lugosi, in its deviations from the
novel. Its visual style and production values are particularly
evocative of the Hammer Horror films. It spoofed, among other
movies, the most recent Dracula adaption, Bram Stoker's
Dracula (1992). As of today, it is the last film to be directed
by Brooks.



>>Plot:

The year is 1893, solicitor Thomas Renfield (Peter MacNicol)
travels all the way from London to Transylvania to meet an
important client. His destination is a place called "Castle
Dracula." As he nears the end of his journey, the sun sets,
and the stagecoach driver refuses to take him any further.
Kindly villagers plead with him to turn back, but Renfield,
explaining "You don't understand; I'm expected!",
continues on foot.

Renfield arrives safely and meets Count Dracula
(Leslie Nielsen), a charming but rather strange man who is,
of course, a vampire. Dracula signs the papers finalizing the
purchase of Carfax Abbey in England, and Renfield retires for
the night. He wakes up when two Brides of Dracula come
gliding seductively in. They are about to finish him off when
the Count appears and orders them out of the room. He then
casts a hypnotic spell on the suggestible Renfield, making
him his slave.

Dracula and Renfield soon embark for England. During the
voyage, Dracula dines upon the ship's crew, starting with the
first mate, eventually killing everyone by the time he reaches
England. He goes ashore, leaving Renfield behind. When
Renfield (by this time raving mad in the style of Dwight Frye)
is discovered alone on the ship, he is confined to a lunatic
asylum.



Meanwhile, Dracula visits an opera house, where after a
hypnotism affect gone wrong, he introduces himself to his
new neighbors: Doctor Seward (Korman), owner of the
asylum where Renfield is being held, and a believer in
enemas as a sovereign remedy for mental illness; Seward's
assistant, Jonathan Harker (Weber); Seward's nubile daughter
Mina (Amy Yasbeck), engaged to Harker for the past five years;
and Seward's ward, the equally nubile Lucy (Lysette Anthony).
Dracula flirts with Lucy and, later that night, enters her
bedroom and feeds on her blood.

The next day, Mina discovers Lucy still in bed late in the
morning, looking strangely pale. Seward, puzzled by the odd
puncture marks on her throat, calls in an expert on obscure
diseases, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Mel Brooks). Van Helsing
informs the skeptical Dr. Seward that Lucy has been attacked
by a vampire. After some hesitation, Seward and Harker allow
garlic to be placed in Lucy's bedroom to repel the vampire.

Dracula releases Renfield from the asylum, and orders him
to get rid of the garlic. Renfield, however, can't resist first
lifting the covers of Lucy's bed and taking a peek. Lucy
screams, and Seward and Harker rush in and recapture
Renfield. Dracula then uses mind-control to make Lucy
leave her room, and kills her in the garden.



Van Helsing meets Dracula and begins to suspect him of
being the local vampire; he also becomes embroiled in a
last-word competition with the Count. Lucy, now a vampire
herself, rises from her crypt, drains the blood from her guard,
and tries to attack Harker. Van Helsing rushes in just in time
and chases her back to her coffin with a crucifix. Jonathan
drives a stake into Lucy's heart, causing an improbable
amount of blood to gush out ("She just ate!" explains Van
Helsing, standing well back, having done this kind of thing
before). Then Van Helsing orders Jonathan to stab her in the
heart once more, much to Jonathan's refusal as he predicts
more blood will gush out, which does happen as soon as
Jonathan stabs her one last time.

Dracula's next victim is Mina, but he has bigger plans for her;
he wants her to be his undead bride throughout eternity. He
spirits her away to Carfax Abbey, where they dance, and he
sucks her blood. Mina does not loathe the Count, as she does
in Stoker's novel; on the contrary, she seems to enjoy his
attentions. The following morning, she is unusually frisky,
and tries to seduce the prudish Jonathan. Van Helsing
becomes suspicious at this strange behavior. Noticing a
scarf around Mina's neck, he removes it, revealing two
puncture marks.

Van Helsing devises a plan to reveal Count Dracula's secret
identity. He invites the Count to a ball, and places a huge
mirror, covered with a curtain, on one of the walls. Dracula
arrives, and dances the Csárdás with Mina. Suddenly, the
curtain over the mirror is dropped, and guests are stunned
to see Mina's reflection seemingly dancing by itself. Dracula
grabs Mina and escapes out a window. Renfield, also at the
ball, impulsively shouts after him "Master! Master!... I mean,
Mister! Mister!" in an attempt to disguise the fact that he is
serving Dracula. He is immediately locked up again, while
Van Helsing, Seward, and Harker search for Dracula.

Van Helsing deduces that Renfield is Dracula's slave, and
thus might know where he keeps his coffin. He lets him out
of his cell, and the three men secretly follow him to Dracula's
lair. Once discovered, the Count locks himself in a room to
finish making Mina his bride. His pursuers break down the
door, and they fight. Van Helsing, noticing sunlight creeping
into the room, starts opening the blinds. As his body begins
to burn, Dracula transforms himself into a bat and flies up
into the darkness of the attic ceiling.

Renfield flings open a trapdoor and shouts "This way, Master!",
flooding the room with light and reducing his master to ashes,
but not before he mutters in a humorously high-pitched tone
Renfield, you asshole!! Mina, sweet and innocent once more,
leaves with Jonathan; Renfield mourns Dracula for a moment,
then becomes Seward's slave; and Van Helsing shouts
"Fushta!" at the pile of vampire-ashes, thinking he's finally
getting the last word. However, at the end of the credits,
Dracula chants a threatening "Sylvania!" and he ends it with
an evil and taunting chuckle.



>>Cast:

-Leslie Nielsen as Count Dracula
-Peter MacNicol as Thomas Renfield
-Steven Weber as Jonathon Harker
-Amy Yasbeck as Mina Seward
-Lysette Anthony as Lucy Westenra
-Mel Brooks as Abraham Van Helsing
-Harvey Korman as Dr. Seward
-Anne Bancroft as Madame Ouspenskaya (Gypsy Woman)



>>Reception:

Critical reaction to Dracula: Dead and Loving It has been
mostly negative, with the film earning a rating of only 4%
on Rotten Tomatoes. James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote:

"Alas, Dracula: Dead and Loving It doesn't come close to the
level attained by Young Frankenstein. It's a toothless parody
that misses more often than it hits. ... Unless you're a die
hard Mel Brooks fan, there's no compelling reason to sit
through Dracula: Dead and Loving It. The sporadic humor
promises some laughs, but the ninety minutes will go by
slowly."

Joe Leydon of Variety said, "Trouble is, while Dead
and Loving It earns a fair share of grins and giggles, it never
really cuts loose and goes for the belly laughs. ... Dead and
Loving It is so mild, it comes perilously close to blandness."

Fonts: Wikipedia

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Hunger (1983)



This post talks about one of the most elegant vampire's film of the 80's, The Hunger. A different love story beyond death. With a spectacular cast, with Katerine Deneuve, David 'the Dandy' Bowie and the sweet Susan Sarandon, The Hunger is now a cult movie for the undead legend.




The film opens in a New York night club.Bauhaus, a gothic rock band is onstage performing a song called "Bela Lugosi's Dead". In the crowd are John and Miriam Blaylock (the Deneuve- Bowie couple). Stylishly dressed and predatory, they stalk the crowd and connect with two young. The couple takes them back to their home, where John and Miriam seduce them before viciously slashing their throats. John and Miriam are vampires, although not in any traditional sense; lacking fangs, they use ancient Egyptian pendants to cut open the jugulars of their victims.



The center of their strange existence is Miriam. She is an immortal being, able to pass along her supernatural qualities to selected human beings that she chooses to be her lovers. However, her progeny are not truly immortal as she is, and sooner or later, usually after 300 years or so, they find themselves suddenly and rapidly getting old. However, the progeny are unable to die, but continue to live forever withered, in a fully conscious, vegetative state. Miriam packs their decaying, aging bodies in caskets that she keeps in the attic of her residence. In the 18th century, Miriam offered this gift of immortality to John, who eagerly accepted, as had all her previous lovers through the ages.



Suddenly, John develops trouble sleeping, and starts aging at a rapid rate. Miriam is aware of the significance of this happening, and she goes looking for a famous gerontologist, Dr. Sarah Roberts (a sweet and cute Susan Sarandon), desperately seeking her help for a cure for John's fast deterioration. She makes contact with Dr. Roberts, and through her psychic powers, finds out that the doctor is just guessing, and that her research is inconclusive. Therefore, John, as all her lovers before him, is doomed to extinction. John also attempts to meet with Dr. Roberts at her clinic, but she dismisses his claims as delusional and leaves him to sit in the waiting room, hoping that he will grow bored and leave. John ages decades within a few short hours, and when Sarah sees him later, she begs John to stay so she can examine him. But John refuses to speak to her, his hunger for blood nearly overpowering him and forcing him to leave in search of a victim.




Driven by his bloodlust and desperation to reverse the aging process, John makes a kill out of young Alice , a music student that he and Miriam are tutoring. Her blood does nothing to help John, and he eventually falls down a flight of stairs at the townhouse, his legs no longer able to support his own weight. Miriam carries John's withering body up to the attic and puts him in a casket, next to several other caskets containing her earlier lovers.

Later on, when Dr. Roberts shows up at Miriam's door looking for John, Miriam sees in the doctor a replacement for John in her life; it is love at first sight for Miriam, and she immediately proceeds to seduce Sarah. Sarah is a willing participant in Miriam's seduction, but she doesn't know that Miriam has now transformed her into a vampire, just as she did to John and her other lovers.



Lieutenant Allegrezza shows up at Miriam's house looking for Alice, and is immediately suspicious of Miriam, although he has no real proof of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Sarah begins to manifest symptoms of vampirism. She is ravenously hungry, but eating normal food makes her vomit. She also starts seeing Miriam everywhere she looks. Finally she confronts Miriam about what happened between them on that day, and Miriam vaguely states that she has given Sarah eternal life, and that they belong to one another now. Sarah rejects what Miriam has told her, but she does understand that something terrible has happened to her. Sarah and her partners at the clinic, including Sarah's boyfriend, Tom Haver , cannot find a cure for the change that is occurring in Sarah's blood, and in desperation Sarah returns to Miriam. Miriam arranges for Sarah to make her first kill, bringing back a male prostitute, but Sarah is unwilling to take a human life.



Finally, Tom arrives at the townhouse looking for Sarah following her disappearance, and is surprised to find that Sarah is there. Miriam knows that Sarah's hunger is now beyond reason, and when she takes Tom to Sarah, Sarah kills him for his blood. Miriam is now convinced that she has found her new lover, and she tells Sarah that they will now share an eternity together. Sarah, however, is wracked with guilt over taking Tom's life, and she attempts suicide by cutting her own throat with Miriam's ankh as they kiss. Sarah's blood pours into Miriam's throat and then Sarah collapses. Miriam is horrified at what Sarah has done, but she dutifully carries Sarah's limp body into the attic to place her among her other dessicated lovers. This time, however, she finds her crumbling lovers now out of their coffins, waiting for her. The sudden intake of Sarah's blood has caused a change in Miriam. Suddenly released from Miriam's spell, the lovers crumble into dust as Miriam herself begins to wither.



The film's conclusion shows Lieutenant Allegrezza returning to question Miriam, only to find that the townhouse is now mysteriously empty and up for sale, all of the luxurious furnishings in the home gone and the money funneled to the sleep clinic where Sarah, presumably missing, used to work. In the final shot, we see Sarah herself living in a high rise luxury apartment surrounded by several lovers, while Miriam, imprisoned in a coffin just as she did to her own lovers, screams for her release.

In special mention the opera's piece that evolves Miriam and Sarah's love scene, the 'Lakmé' aria of Leo Delibes.



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