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Dracula (1974) – Episode 61 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“You are now in my domain gentlemen, and you shall not leave.” Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issue of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions, but Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr are back, along with guest-host Joey Fittos, to take that familiar journey from Transylvania to England, this time as told by producer/director Dan Curtis in 1974’s Dracula.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 61 – Dracula (1974)

Originally released as Bram Stoker’s Dracula until the rights to that name were acquired for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, the film is now sometimes referred to as Dan Curtis’ Dracula. This TV movie was scheduled to premiere in October 1973 but was preempted by news coverage of an unfolding historical event and rescheduled for February 1974.

This episode’s Grue Crew discuss Emmy winner Curtis’ start as the creator and executive producer of the daytime, horror/soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-71). He then went on to direct and produce a number of horror-related movies in the 1970s: The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), several TV-movie adaptations of well-known horror novels, and the theatrically released Burnt Offerings (1976).

Though your hosts find the script lacking in places, they do give props to frequent Curtis collaborator and horror icon Richard Matheson, who penned the screenplay for this version of Dracula. Despite this script’s faults, Curtis and Matheson do use a plot device lifted from Dark Shadows that doesn’t appear in Bram Stoker’s novel or any previous film versions but is used again by Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Academy award winner Jack Palance tackles the title role. Curtis and he had worked together before on another TV movie, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Chad, Bill, and especially Jeff, appreciate the feral quality of Palance’s performance, but Joey says, “He’s not my Dracula.” The rest of the cast – Nigel Davenport (Van Helsing), Murray Brown (Jonathan Harker), Fiona Lewis (Lucy), Penelope Horner (Mina), and Simon Ward (Arthur) – don’t have much to work with, possibly leading to their seemingly lackluster performances. The crew also point out that many of our listeners may recognize Sarah Douglas, one of Dracula’s brides, who later played Ursa in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980).

When all’s said and done, Mr. Fittos gives Dracula (1974) thumbs down. Though Chad and Jeff admit it doesn’t hold up to impressions from their first viewings, the other hosts think it is worth the watch for Palance’s performance.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Dracula (1931) – Episode 20 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies?… Not when I can get nice, fat spiders!” Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew for this episode – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr, and special guest Dave Dreher – as we take a trip to Transylvania and ride aboard the schooner Vesta, only to end up in the Seward Sanitarium and rundown Carfax Abbey in search of Dracula (1931).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 20 – Dracula (1931)

Director Tod Browning and cinematographer Karl Freund collaborated during the production of Dracula to create some of the most lasting icons in horror film history. Bela Lugosi (Dracula), Dwight Frye (Renfield), and Edward Van Sloan (Dr. Van Helsing) are still the portrayals to which all later incarnations are compared. Though Lugosi is the star, your Classic Era Grue Crew all agree that Dracula is Dwight Frye’s movie as he changes from a serious and dignified professional to an unpredictable, maniacal, and downright disturbing lunatic.

Unfortunately, the characters of Lucy (Frances Dade) and Mina (Helen Chandler) are barely more than props to be victimized by Dracula and saved by Van Helsing and John Harker (David Manners). On the other hand, Renfield’s attendant Martin (Charles K. Gerrard) provides the very definition of comic relief. One of our Grue Crew also proclaims their love for Lupita Tovar, who plays Eva, the Spanish language version of Mina.

You’ll also find the answers to these questions:

  • How does the Tod Browning version of Dracula compare to the Spanish language production?
  • What could the Looney Tunes bad-behaved version of Little Red Riding Hood possibly have to do with Dracula?
  • How many degrees of separation are there between the Spanish language version of Dracula and the Star Wars film, Rogue One (2016)?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll find out which of this episode’s Grue Crew made each of these statements during our podcast on Dracula:

  • “Someone just kind of handed him (Dwight Frye) this steak of a role and he just sunk all of his teeth into it and chewed it for all it was worth.”
  • “Was I the only one, when you would see Martin on the screen, that was thinking of Eric Idle from Monty Python?”
  • “The woman had many, many issues. She surpassed issue and went straight to subscriptions.”
  • “Who decided an armadillo was scary?”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. In timing with Halloween, our next episode in our very flexible schedule is Nosferatu (1922), hosted by Erin Miskell.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

 

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Martin (1978) – Episode 57 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Things only seem to be magic. There is no real magic. There’s no real magic ever.” With this line, Martin laments the lack of real magic in life, even while claiming to be an 84-year-old vampire in a 20-year-old’s body. Join your Grue Crew as we pay tribute to George Romero by discussing Martin (1978), his personal favorite of his films, a truly unique and innovative take on vampires. Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. (Issue #2 is now available. Don’t miss out!) In the interim, your regular hosts, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr, are joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and special guest Thomas Mariani, the hardest working man in podcasting.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 57 – Martin (1978)

Written, directed, and edited by George A. Romero, Martin is an intense and realistic treatment that follows the exploits of Martin (John Amplas), a seems-to-be young man who claims to be 84 years old, and who certainly drinks human blood. The boy arrives in Pittsburgh to stay with his Uncle Kuda (Lincoln Maazel), who promises to save Martin’s soul and destroy him once he is finished, but Martin’s loneliness finds other means of release. Also in the mix are Martin’s cousin Christina (Christine Forrest) and her boyfriend Arthur (Tom Savini).

The Grue Crew doles out heaping helpings of praise for Martin. Bill Mulligan marvels at the high quality of the acting performances even though several key members of the cast have minimal film credits. Bill and Jeff Mohr point out Romero’s masterful editing and how it efficiently tells the story while eliciting tension, horror, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Thomas Mariani observes that much of Martin’s interaction with other people might place him somewhere on the autism spectrum. Jeff is intrigued by the use of the call-in radio show to add insight into Martin’s mental state. The crew also discusses how the characters all seem trapped in one way or another. Martin and Kuda are trapped by their family legacy, while Christina and Arthur plot to escape the traditional trap set for everyone by the comfortable, slow torture of their surroundings.

Bill, Thomas, and Jeff each owned the finger guillotine magic trick Martin demonstrates in the film (The Black Saint ignored the trick and actually severed fingers) and we all remark on the effectiveness of Tom Savini’s simple and cost effective gags. Finally, as The Black Saint loses all semblance of control, we take a trip down memory lane and wax nostalgic about the different ways we each fed our hunger for horror films.

Check out the other Decades of Horror episodes that delve into the films of George Romero: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), and The Dark Half (1993).

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) – Episode 56 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“How’d you like to wake up with pieces of cat in your stomach?” Eww! So says one of the dubious, but fearless, vampire hunters in this episode’s featured film, Count Yorga, Vampire (1970). Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print edition (You have yours, right?). In the interim, your regular hosts, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr, are joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director and bon vivant, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Journey with this episode’s Grue Crew as they don their crushed velvet smoking jackets and channel the Count.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 56 – Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

In Count Yorga, Vampire, Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) gives pseudo-séances while scouting women to victimize with the aid of his ghastly assistant Brudah (Edward Walsh). Paul (Michael Murphy) and Mike (Michael Macready) attempt to rescue the Count’s most recent victims, Donna (Donna Anders) and Erica (Judy Lang), with the help of Dr. James Hayes (Roger Perry).

The brainchild of writer/director Bob Kelljan and producer/actor Michael Macready, Count Yorga, Vampire was made on a skintight budget of $64,000 while having the look of a film with a much bigger investment. Robert Quarry gives an excellent performance as the Count and creates a vampire unlike any other in cinema. At one time, Quarry was thought to be a successor to Vincent Price, but events did not unfold as planned. Viewers will almost certainly recognize Roger Perry and Michael Murphy as accomplished, capable actors who plied their trade in film and television throughout several decades.

Count Yorga, Vampire has several iconic scenes that still haunt The Black Saint years after he first viewed the film as a seven-year-old. In fact, he places it in his top ten horror films of the 1970s. Bill Mulligan questions the filmmakers’ explanation of the kitten scene and thinks something a little more horrific might be closer to the truth – with the help of Brudah, of course. Jeff Mohr loves the film but questions whether an overdubbed, long walk through the city was an effective way for Paul and Mike to devise a rescue plan. In fact, Chad Hunt thinks they are the stupidest vampire hunters in the history of vampire films. The rest of the crew couldn’t disagree. Though there might be some holes in the plot, the hosts all highly recommend Count Yorga, Vampire for its production values, horrific and memorable scenes, and stylized vision of vampires.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.