Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula (Donald F. Glut, 2001)

Well here i go again (on my own) with a look at the enticingly-titled The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula.

When i was young, the name 'Donald F. Glut' meant two things: firstly the author of the tatty paperback novelisation of The Empire Strikes Back which i'd read much more than i'd seen the actual film (our local video shop never bothering to get in  copies of the Holy Trilogy until one of its mid-Nineties re-releases), and therefore Mr Glut's account of that particular adventure in the far far away being more familiar to me than the vision of Lucas 'n' Kershner; secondly, the author of a couple of short horror stories i'd read in various anthologies (the one that immediately spring's to mind being the Universal Horror pastiche 'Dr Karnstein's Creation' from the Michel Parry-curated The Rivals of Frankenstein). For such things alone, my young self felt fond of Mr Glut.

Turns out he did a lot of other things that chimed with my own interests, such as penning episodes of such TV series as Shazam, Scooby-Doo, Captain Caveman, Centurions ("Power X-Treme!"), Transformers, Masters of the Universe and the classic early '90s X-Men. What a guy. He also has the bizarrely hypnotic website Don Glut's Dinosaurs (here ) which caters to all of us who are interested in the alchemical admixture of paleontology and models posing in bikinis and schoolgirl outfits. And who among us could argue with that? The man is a god.

Turns out he has also written and directed - i don't think auteured would be too strong a word - a number of b-movies (or z-movies, if were to be honest with ourselves about the sub-Fred Olen Ray [yes, Olivia, that is possible] level of cinema that we're dealing with here) about such delightful things as lesbian vampires. Which, yeah, Hammer hammered into the ground aeons ago, but hey: it's still fertile ground. Especially with all the onanistic viewers spilling their seed like that.

And so we arrive at The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula. Apparently filmed in five days, it would seem cruel to say "It shows", i can't say that the picture quality is great. As a Doctor Who fan it would be strange of me to complain about watching an enjoyable romp shot on cheap-looking video, but surely there's some kind of reverse-VIDFire process wherein a film can be made to look like it's on actual... y'know... film? Anyway, it kind of works toward the whole late '90s early '00s softcore porno atmos that's instantly created via the opening shots of a slo-mo orgy of writhing and intertwining naked female limbs. Nice one, Don. This is out introduction to our central character, the centrepiece of this Sapphic tableau: the Scarlet Countess herself, aka Scarlet Brooks played by porn star Elizabeth X (nee Janet Elizabeth Marsh, and credited herein as 'Brick Randall'), with her auburn tresses tossing amidst the frolicking. I love a red mane on a woman. But not a Redmayne. That would just be weird.

In flashback, we get The Secret Origin of the Countess, as Marvel comics may have put it, as we find Ms Brooks as an aspiring singer in the swinging Sixties, eager to get into the studio to cut her debut record and become "bigger than Janis". Venturing into the darkness outside the recording studio to find her lost "lucky charm" - a CND symbol medallion - she finds herself a victim of the dreaded Un-Dead himself: Count Dracula. Whose ambition to take the heart of the Empire and the whirl and the rush of humanity in 1897 had obviously settled into knocking around the Pacific coast 70 years later. Cool, dude. The Count is portrayed by William Smith - veteran of such genre offerings as Invasion of the Bee Girls and Grave of the Vampire, but most recognisable to me as the titular titan's Crom-quoting father in John Milius' Conan the Barbarian - who is very reminiscent of Jack Palance's 1974 take on the role of the vampire lord. Except with a goatee. So, like the version of the Count from Marvel's Tomb of Dracula, then. Which is cool. The Count puts the hypnotic whammy on the glam gal and takes a bite as per, and poor Scarlet finds her dreams of rock 'n' roll stardom are over as she is consigned to an endless eternal life of dwelling in the darkness with only Drac's servant Renfield at her beck and call. Played by Del Howison, real-life proprietor of the Dark Delicacies Burbank bookshop, this Renfield continues his family tradition of an entemophagous diet by chowing down on any passing beetles and bugs, but is more startling for his moustache and white-streaked mane giving him a startling resemblance to the famed thespian Steven Toast of London.

Spending the ensuing decades slaking her bloodlust with take-outs from the Burbank blood bank rather than sourcing the good stuff straight from the jugular tap, and mourning the loss of her humanity even if she retains her (Valleys porn standard) beauty, Scarlet establishes an exclusive nightclub named 'The Scarlet Countess' where she sits every night wistfully watching the mortals dancing with their youthful life and energy. She also gazes at the spinning mirrorball and daydreams (well, night-dreams, which is just dreaming, isn't it?) a scene of a buxom lovely doing a slow and sensual strip-tease in a jacuzzi accompanied by the soundtrack of the club's music. It's very reminiscent of those old Electric Blue videos from the '80s and '90s. Not that i'd know anything about that. I never found your videos, Dad, honest.

Tired of this mortal coil (though i don't suppose vampiresses need an IUD, do they?), Scarlet finally issues a command to her ever-faithful retainer: stake her through the heart and end her existence whilst she lays recumbent in her coffin. Renfield can't bring himself to do this, however, and instead turns to occult literature for answers - leading to the somewhat meta sequence of Howison patronising his own bookshop wherein he, with the help of black-clad goth shopgirl Shado who boasts of reading the entire Anne Rice canon in a week "Again!" (she is my new imaginary wife), finds the Ruthvenian: the Bible of the Un-Dead. In this grand grimoire he finds the answer to Scarlet's dilemma: if she can drink the blood of three virgins who give themselves and their "life's nectar" to her willingly, she will once again be mortal.

"In a single night?" she asks incredulously. "Where i the hell am i gonna find three young virgins in Southern California in a single year?"

And so Renfield's impossible quest begins. Obviously i don't want to divulge and spoil the ending of this masterpiece as doubtless everyone will want to experience it for themselves. Blessed with a bevy of bodacious boob-baring babes disrobing amidst coffins and mist, shot like a cross between softcore and a music video and soundtracked frequently with a selection of goth rock tunes (from mostly from the bands Doppleganger and Shadow Light, of whom i'd never heard but shall be checking out - i genuinely enjoyed a lot of the soundtrack), The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula is the kind of fever dream that a hormonal teenager who's wet dreams of naked ladies are mixed with Famous Monsters of Filmland would want to see. In short, it was made for me. 

I got wood.

"I am Glut."

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