Vinegar Syndrome’s COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE (1973) Blu-ray Reviewed

Count Dracula’s Great Love released on Blu-ray on September 27th from Vinegar Syndrome.

Count Dracula’s Great Love isn’t particularly well known in the US, and is perhaps best recognized as a movie featured on Elvira’s Movie Macabre, in which the voluptuous hostess screened cheesy B-movies and offered up her sarcastic commentary.

For anyone who may remember the film as hosted by Elvira, Vinegar Syndrome’s new Blu-ray is a completely different experience. The film is beautifully presented, unlike the dark, murky, VHS-quality broadcast you may have seen.

The film follows a group of young people traveling through the Carpathian Mountains — several beautiful girls and one man. When their carriage breaks down, they seek shelter at a lonely estate where Dr. Wendell Marlow (Paul Naschy) agrees to take them in.

Marlow is actually Count Dracula operating under an alias, but he’s not the same character of Stoker’s novel — or perhaps he once was, but is no more. Rather than large, brutish, and selfish, he is physically diminutive, quiet, refined, and sensitive. Marlow is a diminished version of the Count, without his full powers. Some expository dialogue suggests that this may be a result of his defeat at the hands of Van Helsing, the mention of which is the only tie to the novel.

Marlow seeks love, for if a virgin were to fall in love with him, it would replenish his full power. Some of the girls begin to take an interest in their handsome host, but over the course of the next couple days, some weird and frightening happenings also begin to take place. Will Dracula find love with one of his lady guests, or will his evil nature inevitably destroy them all?

In European fashion, the film is an even mix of art and schlock. The incredible authentic locations are quite impressive, and the overall look of the production is quite sumptuous. Additionally, the story tries to do something unique with the Dracula mythos. On the flipside, Elvira wasn’t wrong — it definitely has some B-movie tendencies as well. A handful of nude scenes pepper the story (apparently these have been cut in various previous circulations of the film, but are restored on this release), and a favorite target of mockery is the opening credits, which replay a scene of a man falling down the stairs over and over again (this didn’t bother me one bit; I thought the result has a nice sense of surrealism). There are also some silly vampire makeup effects where vampire characters’ faces have been painted white, but the rest of their bodies maintain natural skin tones.

Count Dracula’s Great Love may not achieve greatness, but it’s a really watchable film that takes an interesting premise and really runs with it. And while it’s not especially scary as a horror picture, there’s some memorable imagery at key moments that really stands out. This is a fun movie with both classical and coarse sensibilities.

The Package

Count Dracula’s Great Love arrived on Blu-ray last week from the cult archivists at Vinegar Syndrome. It’s a nice looking package with a transparent clear case, reversible cover artwork, and an 8-page booklet with an analysis by Mirek Lipinsky.

The print looks pretty clean, with only a minimal vertical scratches. The overall image is a bit soft, but that seems inherent to its vintage and an accurate representation of how it should look. There’s no comparison between this print and previous releases, the most readily available of which has probably been the version hosted by Elvira, which was not only very dark, but formatted for television — cropped so much that it cuts off the text on the opening credits, and with telecine combing throughout.

The disc includes a note about the Spanish track, which comes from lower quality sources than the English dub. I watched the film with the Spanish option and wasn’t bothered by any perceivable problems.

Special Features and Extras

Interview With Actress Mirta Miller (8:22)
 Mirta discusses her career as a model turned actress, working with Paul Naschy, and the making of the film — specifically some of the challenges they encountered.

Commentary with Director Javier Aguirre and Actor/Writer Paul Naschy
Presented in Spanish with English subtitles.

U.S. Theatrical Trailer

Still Gallery (2:16)
A collection of international posters and marketing materials as well as photos from the set

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 Count Dracula’s Great Love — [Blu-ray]

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