= Highest Rating
horror icon Paul Naschy does his best Christopher Lee imitation
in this silly gothic shocker, although at times he more resembles
John Belushi dressed up as Count Yorga for a Halloween soiree...
The film, which fails to measure up to Naschy's other contemporary
works in a similar vein (Werewolf
Shadow, Horror Rises from the Tomb,
etc.), makes up in blood, boobs and atmosphere what it lacks
in just about everything else.
A stagecoach throws
a wheel in Transylvania's infamous Borgo Pass, stranding a quartet
of nubile young women and their male companion in a misty forest.
After the driver is killed in a freak accident, the group seeks
shelter at a nearby castle, where they're welcomed by the owner,
the polite but strange-acting Dr. Marlowe (Naschy). Their hospitable
host invites them to stay as long as they need or wish. Marlowe,
it turns out, is actually Count Dracula — although at times
he doesn't seem to realize this. One by one the guests are bitten
by his vampire minions and turned into the Undead, all except
virginal Karen (Haydée Politoff), with whom Dracula falls in
love. In order to complete a blood ritual that will resurrect
his long-deceased daughter, Drac must convince Karen to voluntarily
become a vampire, joining him as his immortal bride in eternal
Girls starts out ponderously
slow but picks up considerable steam once the nighties come
off and the blood begins to flow. Its complement of topless
Eurobabes, subjected to some genuinely creepy, erotic vampire
attacks, will appeal to viewers amenable to dollops of sex and/or
sleaze with their gothic horror. Perhaps in a nod to the overt
sadism of Hammer's Scars
of Dracula (1970), a captive female villager is mercilessly
whipped, bloody lash wounds licked hungrily by the vampires.
There are a couple of genuine scares to be had (that axe to
the head made me jump); those rustic, timeworn Spanish locales
lend their usual aura of verisimilitude. Naschy's fully in his
element, too, even if he is too short and stocky to play
Dracula, a role requiring considerably more restraint than his
numerous werewolf portrayals. He takes a similar approach to
the character as Christopher Lee, that of an aloof, reserved
nobleman prone to feral savagery if angered or provoked.
None of this can
be taken seriously.
The overly-lit interiors
and pitiful day-for-night photography certainly don't help matters,
but some of the scenes in this movie are just plain nutty.
A shot of a man falling down a flight of stairs is looped no
less than four times during the opening credits. Fights between
Naschy and lesser vampires are staged like western saloon brawls.
The slow-motion leap of a pair of vampires from ground level
to the roof of a house is accompanied by a goofy slide-whistle
sound effect. (Shades of the car stunt in The
Man With the Golden Gun.) The stilted English dubbing is
truly dreadful and often quite hilarious — all the rural Transylvanian
peasants sound like crusty Montana cowpokes! The old geezer
with his leg caught in an animal trap especially cracked me
Girls is a laughably bad film (the English language version,
that is), but an undeniably fun one. This gothic Spanish Velveeta
is pretty tasty!
with the abysmal Vampire Hookers
(1978) for BCI's Exploitation Cinema line of bargain-priced
double feature DVDs, the film gets its best-looking North American
home video release to date. It uses the U.S. drive-in title Cemetery
Girls on the packaging but Count Dracula's Great Love
— much more germane — for the menu screens and on the print itself.
Both films are presented 1.78:1 anamorphic; Cemetery
Girls is slightly cropped from 1.85:1 (although compositions
don't appear to be impacted). The 35mm print has definitely been
around the block a few times, but despite minor damage and instances
of faded color, it's quite watchable. (It's obvious that all the
nude scenes are culled from a different, inferior, source.) The
mono audio track is clear, if flat-sounding; all the poorly-dubbed
dialog comes through cleanly. It has been reported that a few
minutes of the dialog is out of synch with the picture, but I
really couldn't tell you where — the dubbing is that awful
and Vampire Hookers can be watched
individually or as a continuous double bill. The latter option
tosses in a reel of six exploitation trailers (which, for some
inexplicable reason, is predominantly for biker pics) and a vintage
concession stand ad. The disc's menu system, fashioned to resemble
a grindhouse theater lobby, is cute but entirely unnecessary.
This disc went OOP in 2010, and is now selling for $25 or more.