Tomaz Gorkic’s The Curse of Dracula is brash, stupid, but unashamedly entertaining in this Slovenian horror satire. A film that really comes from nowhere to become a surprising joy of a horror.
Marjan (Jurij Drevensek) and his brother Bojan (Marko Mandic) devise a plan to scam the ever-growing number of tourists entering Slovenia. Sell them a fake tour to the mansion of the supposed cousin of Count Dracula, Baron Valburga. Thinking that their plan is full proof they bring along an eclectic group for the first tour. Things soon begin to go wrong inside as it appears there are not alone in this mansion. that was also formerly a psychiatric hospital during WWII. Lost and scared, they have to try and escape before it is too late.
Tomas Gorkic has brought us a film that truly takes you by surprise, after the opening you envision an overly serious low budget piece that will not be anywhere near as good as it thinks it is. Instead, we jump straight into a scene where one of our characters is belittled in astonishingly brutal fashion. As his conversation with his brother and friend begins and the subsequent conversation with Sven (Niklas Kvarforth). We soon find out that this expletive smothered film is going to be the complete opposite of serious.
When a horror knows to poke fun at itself like The Curse of Dracula does. Then you know no matter what, you are in for a movie that is more than enjoyable for the genre fan. Be it the elongated bashing to death of a character, to a character trying to escape the mansion by running everywhere for way too long. This is a film that knows its genre history and is set out to make fellow fans of horror laugh. There are so many small jokes spread throughout that you can’t help but admire the audacity of it all.
We have a most unlikeable group of tourists here to kill off. Be it our three French goths, on the search to murder a vampire or two, with one having a slight want for cocaine than the others. Two Swedish demonic followers who want to capture something from inside the mansion belonging to the late Baron. Two Russian pornstars and their director who are out to film their next wonderful anal picture (yes really). Or even our charmingly brilliant German couple (who themselves have a wonderful little in a joke regarding beer).
If these descriptions of our cast doesn’t show how off centre this movie truly is for the audience. Easily this could be one of the strangest group of individuals brought together in a film. Thank goodness we have it, as each person, no matter how small their role gives it all and brings us a brilliant bit of entertainment.
This is a group who you don’t mind at all seeing getting killed by whatever mysterious being is doing the deed. In some films we are meant to be rooting for someone to escape, here we don’t have to worry about that. If someone escapes, then good for them. But what ridiculous way can they get caught and murdered first? Happily, each of these groups brings their little subplot to proceedings, none are fully fleshed out, but they are present to give them just enough character before their demise.
When we find out who is carrying out all of the death and for what purpose, you would be figuring that this could lead to an extra 20 or so minutes to see what happens next. Sadly we do not get such resolution and it is a shame as once the gears start turning in The Curse of Dracula. You do not want them to stop and you are almost disappointed when this tale finishes. That is the plus and the negative to the film, it could and should go on longer for more enjoyment. But it is right to stop when the going is good rather than to risk losing its audience.
For a horror, there are some wonderful practical effects at work here. Most involve a buzz saw entering its victim from a variety of places, but once the gore starts, it doesn’t stop. There is the right amount of gore at play here with some wonderful makeup effects in one particular scene involving one poor character. As mentioned previously, there are scenes in which characters are meant to be seemingly pulverising someone and on-screen. It doesn’t quite work as the actors don’t seem to put all of their efforts into it and the blood that should be flying everywhere is sadly missing.
The Curse of Dracula has a script that is positively all over the place. There feels as if there are 4 different films spliced into this one and it gets nonsensical but never boring. To the overly long introduction of spending our time with the three con artists (a good 15 minutes). We are thrown into the action as soon as possible. Why our main killer has the contraption he does, is a mystery, but it is unique looking at least.
As the film goes on and those subplots from some characters come more to the forefront of the film it appears as if the film doesn’t quite know which way it should go. Is this a slasher? Or a supernatural film? Is it a haunted house? And so on. To say that we can actually say and so on when we already sense three themes is maddening. Finally, in the last act. It decides what it wants to be and by the time we get to the last images, we are given a little treat.
If you are after a daft, but enjoyable viewing experience this weekend and beyond, look no further than The Curse of Dracula.
Jinga Films/Danse Macabre presents The Curse of Dracula on DVD and VOD on 22nd February.
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