Count Dracula’s Great Love (1972)

Count_Dracula's_Great_Love_(1973)‘The old sanitarium will be coming into view real soon now…’

After a stagecoach accident on a mountain road, a group of young tourists are forced to take shelter in an isolated sanatorium which has just been bought by an Austrian doctor. He proves to be a charming host; however, in reality, he has his own agenda…

Paul Naschy (real name Jacinto Molina) was a horror star in Spain and mainland Europe, whose career was at its peak in the 1970s. He was most famous for playing werewolf Waldemar Daninsky in a long running series of films, but had allegedly also played the other classic Universal monsters (uncredited) in the ridiculous ‘Assignment Terror’ (1970). Returning to the role of the most famous vampire of them all, here he came up with the story and co-wrote the screenplay; which has a couple of unusual twists on the more familiar legend.

This begins as a fairly standard vampire film. The touring group comprises one guy and four hot young women (who would have guessed?) and their reception from the suave doctor is appropriately charming. But we’ve already seen two labourers come to a sticky end when delivering a mysterious crate (wonder what was in that?) and the doc’s lack of alternative transportation is predictably suspicious. The vampire effects are pretty laughable when they arrive, but are kept to a minimum early on and there are a few quite creepy moments. Also there’s some girl-on-girl bloodsucking action as the film nods its head in the vague direction of Hammer Studio’s excellent ’The Vampire Lovers’ (1970) and Jesús Franco’s ‘Vampyros Lesbos’ (1971).

Through no fault of his own, Naschy isn’t a great fit for Dracula; being well-built, dark and full in the face. Physically, he’s far more suited to his lycanthropic pastimes, in much the same way as Lon Chaney Jr, who never quite looked the part as the ‘Son of Dracula’ (1943). The supporting cast struggle to make much of an impression, although Rosanna Yanni has a nice line in sarcasm. The wild, forested locations are quite impressive, but we don’t see enough of the old sanatorium. It’s a location with plenty of atmospheric possibilities, but few of these are realised. It might be any old abandoned big house.

However, there is a far more serious problem. The English language version of the film is atrociously dubbed, and appears to have been edited by our old friend; the blind man with a chainsaw. This isn’t too obvious over the first hour; with the action building slowly until the point where most of the girls have grown fangs and adopted blood as their beverage of choice. After that, however, the final half hour seems to have been cut down from footage that may have lasted twice as long. Day follows night and night follows day at such an alarming rate that it appears the Earth may have spun off its axis. Scenes are laughably short, and the film disintegrates into almost complete incoherence.


It was going to be a Cruel, Cruel Summer…

Suddenly, there’s some palaver about using the blood of village virgins to revive Countess Dracula (the old man’s daughter), but this seems to have popped in from another film, as it’s the first we’ve heard about it. Worse still, we never get any sense of the developing relationship between Dracula and pretty young Haydée Politoff which is central to the plot and informs the film’s unusual climax. Without that, the ending just comes across as a bit silly.

Many Spanish horrors of the period suffered from collapsing budgets; the final results often being fragmentary and confusing. Perhaps that was what happened here; but it looks far more likely that the film was casually butchered to fit a 90 minute slot on stateside release. The footage that remains isn’t of a quality that suggests a lost classic by any means; merely a different take on an old tale, made with serious intentions. But it would be nice to see the film in a more complete version.

One thought on “Count Dracula’s Great Love (1972)

  1. Seven Murders For Scotland Yard/Jack the Ripper of London/Jack el destripador de Londres (1971) – Mark David Welsh

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