Friday, May 21, 2021

Dracula's Widow

Dracula’s Widow
Christopher Coppola

The plot of Dracula’s Window is about as standard as they come for vampire films… well almost. In movies of this subgenre, the vampire often awakens after a centuries long slumber and goes in search of a lost love (usually a reincarnation), along the way they bring someone under their control to help do their bidding. Dracula’s Widow indulges in quite a bit of this, Vanessa (Sylvia Kristel) is the wife of Dracula and after being resurrected by the hand of a wax museum proprietor, Raymond (Lenny von Dohlen), she’s off and hunting for her long-lost husband. Vanessa isn’t really the focus here, instead the film splits it’s time between Raymond’s descent into ghouldom and a cranky detective by the name of Lannon (Josef Sommer).

What is interesting is that there is no hope for Vanessa’s quest, Dracula is long dead. The last descendant of Van Helsing is an ancient old man. Her quest is over before it ever gets started and she is locked into the this cycle. There is a tragedy in her character that remains understated. This is especially notable in a film where virtually everything else is overstated. The downside of this approach is that Vanessa doesn’t have a character arc. She wakes up, wanders around looking for her husband until she finds out he’s dead.

"Where is Electric Dreams 2?"

Dracula's Widow sports some decent creature effects, plenty of blood, and even that staple of vampire movies, the very dodgy bat puppet. It’s a glorious celebration of SFX and grue that really gives this movie its charm. There is definite camp streak throughout the film, dramatic tilted angles, film noir voice overs, comic book style scene transitions, and plenty of gore. Vanessa is not the seducing kind of vampire, more the turn into a hideous monster and tear your throat open kind. It is a refreshing change that give this film some 1980s style monster movie energy. There are moments of humor, but they never overwhelm the horror, a common problem in late 1980s horror movies.

I married Dracula and all I got
was this lousy wig (and vampirism)

Lenny Van Dohlen really steals the show here. Van Dohlen has always been an underrated actor, and here he’s perfect as the tragic and romantic lead of Dracula’s Widow. He seems to perfectly grasp what kind of film he’s in and take a melodramatic angle that wouldn’t be out of place in a Universal Dracula film. Despite this, he is an effective as a tortured soul who finds himself in an impossible tug of war between his blood bound actions under Vanessa and his love for his own girlfriend.

I had never heard of Dracula’s Widow until recently and that is surprising. It is a solid little creature feature that goes heavy on the camp at times but always stays true to the fact that it is a horror movie. At its core, Dracula’s Window is a small horror film that keeps its aims modest and meets them. It is the kind of film that doesn’t exist anymore, and the world of horror cinema is the worse for it. 

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