Howls of the Week (10/29/23 - 11/04/23)

This will probably be a new feature, similar to the old monthly LUNAR CYCLE I used to do. I figured I would just post quick thoughts on films I've recently seen, while giving bigger/solo spotlights to more popular/important films. Let's see how this goes.


Directed By: Paul Morrissey

Starring: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Vittorio de Sica, Maxine McKendry

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: Deathly ill Count Dracula and his slimy underling, Anton, travel to Italy in search of a virgin’s blood. They’re welcomed at the crumbling estate of indebted Marchese Di Fiore, who’s desperate to marry off his daughters to rich suitors. But there, instead of pure women, the count encounters incestuous lesbians with vile blood and Marxist manservant Mario, who’s suspicious of the aristocratic Dracula.

Presented by Andy Warhol after the cult success of FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, BLOOD FOR DRACULA is director’s Paul Morrissey’s superior follow up that focuses on Dracula and her servant traveling to Italy searching for virgin blood, as Dracula is severely ill from a lack of pure sustenance. While the acting is not great and the story isn’t the strongest, BLOOD FOR DRACULA is very worthwhile for a few reasons.

One, Morrissey’s direction is very good, as he uses many camera techniques and shot-scales to enhance the narrative. The cinematography is also well done, as this film is quite beautiful to look at.

Two, the subtext in this film is very strong and shows that a Dracula in a modern world probably wouldn’t survive for too long. There’s commentary on politics, class status [a rich Count is feeding on the poor to make himself richer] and the deterioration of religion when it comes to sex. The fact that this Dracula turns literal green after feeding on non-virgin blood twice within a supposed religious household says it all.

And three, this has to be one of the sleaziest DRACULA films ever put to screen. Incestuous siblings, a servant who forces himself on women [who ends up being the hero strangely] and disgusting acts like Dracula crawling on the floor to lick up virgin blood after a girl has been sexually assaulted to save her life from the Count. Not to mention, the epic finale that will probably make you lose a few limbs like you’re a Black Knight in a Monty Python sketch.

This is a DRACULA story that needs to be watched if you enjoy a memorable vampire flick.


Directed By: José Ramón Larraz

Starring: Marianne Morris, Anulka Dziubinska, Murray Brown, Brian Deacon, Sally Faulkner

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Score: 2.5 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: A duo of bisexual female vampires prey on passing motorists, whom they seduce and murder in the English countryside. 

A story of bisexual vampires luring people at night to satiate their bloodlust, Jose Ramon Larraz’s VAMPYRES is a visually stunning film that unfortunately doesn’t have much of a story to really invest in. This film is a sleazy slow burn, with the two lead actresses seducing characters and the audiences with their good looks and sexual chemistry with each other. Cinemax would be proud of the sex scenes displayed in this movie. The use of the film’s main setting, a mansion in the countryside, is well done. The forest outside of this mansion almost seems like a character in itself, as these beautiful vampires just lurk around waiting for victims. It’s just too bad there’s not much of a story besides the brutal opening scene and a love triangle of sorts between the two vampires and a male victim one of them is in love with. VAMPYRES is not a scary film, more focused on titillating the audience. But watching the male lead kiss one of the actresses multiple times was pretty nightmare inducing. Open mouth, flailing tongue and just nasty love making all around. Even beautiful vampires can have a lack of taste, I guess.


Directed By: Jean Rollin

Starring: Franca Mai, Jean-Marie Lamaire, Brigitte Lahaie, Fanny Magier

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 80 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: A runaway criminal breaks into an eerie chateau, taking its two frightened chambermaids hostage. As night falls, a group of mysterious aristocratic women arrive and the criminal begins to realize the women are hiding a sinister secret.

My first Jean Rollin film ever, believe it or not, the French-language FASCINATION is a vampire movie that surprised me with how well shot and how well told it was. The plot is super simple, with a thief hiding inside a chateau with two beautiful servants who obviously aren’t as they seem. The film is romantic, melodramatic and has very memorable moments throughout. I think the iconic scene is the scythe sequence, which is full of tension and suspense. It’s also quite stunning to look at. For an 80 minute film, it sets up a lot for the first two acts before crashing into a sinister and bloody final act that feels mostly ironic to what we knew of these characters and their situations before. It’s also interesting how they tried to make the thief into an anti-hero of sorts by the end, even though it doesn’t really feel earned. But love will make you do some strange things, whether it’s returned or not. FASCINATION proves that there’s beauty in horror.


Directed By: Tony Scott 

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, Cliff DeYoung, Beth Ehlers, Dan Heyada

Genre: Horror/Drama/Vampires

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: Miriam promises her lovers the gift of eternal life, but John, her companion for centuries, suddenly discovers that he is getting old minute by minute, so he looks for Dr. Sarah Roberts, a researcher on the mechanisms of aging, and asks her for help.

The late Tony Scott’s directorial debut, this cult classic adapted from a novel didn’t get a lot of love 40 years ago. And while it’s definitely imperfect, it shows Scott’s style that would only improve in his future works like TOP GUN and TRUE ROMANCE. It’s visually sleek, looking atmospheric and moody like those early MTV music videos, with quick editing and juxtapositions to make certain moments pop. While the story could be stronger, I do appreciate the themes addressed in the film. Having the man deal with the effects of aging instead of a woman is an interesting touch, especially when this struggle also seems to be a commentary on the AIDS epidemic that had only just become known two years prior. The performances are very good with Catherine Deneuve being a strong presence as Miriam, who gives her lovers the promise of an eternal life but had all of them age on her quickly for some reason. David Bowie is captivating as Deneuve’s husband, John, getting to play with aging makeup and a pretty messed-up murder sequence. And Susan Sarandon is stunning as the doctor who is studying these aging effects, but gets caught up in Miriam’s web to bad results. Any film that starts out with a Bauhaus performance definitely deserves one’s attention.

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