El Gran Amor del Conde Dracula AKA Count Draculas Great Love (1973)

director: Javier Aguirre
release-year: 1973
genres: horror, sexploitation
countries: Spain
languages: Spanish
fests: Sexploitation Horror Fest (2022)

Spanish sexploitation horror, set in olden times with horse carriages and victorian dresses.

It wastes zero time before jumping into a ton of dialog establishing the spooky mystery, as two men move a coffin filled with a skeleton into some dungeon. Again, wasting no time, a very awkward Dracula gestures stupidly and kills them both undramatically. The credits play over an endless loop of one guy falling down the stairs with an axe in his head. It just keeps looping.

The next scene is more talking about Dracula, Van Helsing, a sanitorium, a mysterious disease, a mad scientist, and a crazy hermit. Some guy is bringing four very fancy women into the horrifying Romanian countryside in a carriage. I must have missed why. The carriage shots are very, very bouncy. The cameraman is shaking the hell out of that camera.

Their wheel falls off, a horse kills the driver, and the man and one woman profess their love to each other in a very out-of-focus shot. These first five minutes are packed with activity. Stranded, and with a storm rolling in, they obviously have to walk to the abandoned sanitorium. They never stop talking for longer than three seconds, but at least the conversation and delivery is believable enough.

The cinematography is nothing special, but, aside from frequently being out of focus, it's not bad. Every single scene is shot under a strong floodlight, the actors casting harsh shadows in random directions. Music is reserved for a special few scenes, and mostly we just get very loud ambient noise and incessant chattering.

"Looks like it's abandoned," says a lady as they approach the place that he just called "the abandoned sanitorium." Oh yeah, but somebody lives there (a doctor) and it's not abandoned at all. He says they'll have to stay a week before the next coach comes by. "This isn't very comfortable," he says, gesturing to his absolutely enormous and immaculately decorated mansion.

One lady has some nice jabs at her smitten friend: "you'd do it with a broom, as long as it wore pants." Then she wanders around in a hall, sees a zombie, and faints. Nothing comes of it, but you can bet that zombie will be back. Women live up to the horror trope of fainting or falling over uselessly whenever there is any action.

The sexploitation includes some bland sex scenes and some naked swimming in the sanitorium swimming pool (!). These shots are quick and pointless, and probably just thrown in so they could be included in the trailers. Oh, and there's excessive cleavage at all times.

The girls spend a bunch of time Scooby Doo-ing around the palace while the doctor is gone, snooping in his cellar and his books about Dracula, which helps them explain to the viewer that Dracula is reincarnated every generation. We are treated to a bunch of scenes of them turning into vampires, and it's very unclear which are dreams and which are real, but apparently some of them are real. At least they finally stop blabbering when they become vampires. That zombie is still wandering around, but not really doing anything. The girls get naked whenever they become vampires, while the men remain decked out in frilly tuxedos.

Eventually everyone is vampires except the doctor and the virgin, and they go on romantic walks in the woods even though they've just seen several vampires and some of their friends die. They return to the house that they just killed a vampire in for sex and a nap. The virgin goes for a stroll in the dungeon by herself. Everyone is a vampire down there, so she cries. She stands perfectly still while the doctor slides a dagger slowly through her neck. I guess she's supposed to be in some sort of hypnosis? I don't know, it's near the end of a 70s horror movie so, as usual, the story has slipped into disjointed fragments of nonsense.

Dracula awakens (he's the doctor), the girls hop around a village like they're in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and snack on some farmers, the sound cuts out abruptly, the virgin is still alive for some reason, and we're faced with the most compelling mystery of the whole movie: why is it still going?

What started as a mildly entertaining way to pass the time has slipped into a pointless montage of boring, unrelated segments. Some of them seem like they were inserted out of order. The movie still pretends like it's climbing towards a climax long after anybody could possibly care about what the climax entails.

The ending is definitely filmed out of order, and really poorly stitched together. Dracula and the virgin fall in love and he decides to not be Dracula anymore and the virgin walks back to Munich.