by Art Chantry:
whenever i spot one of these ‘clusterfuck’ packs of bad horror movies (especially those put out by “Mill Creek”) i pick them up – but only if they’re under 10 bucks. they have anywhere from 20 to 100 bad horror movies on them, generally. i mean they’re generally bad. i mean, these are some of the truly most awful movies ever made. i mean it. it’s no exaggeration.
every single one of these horror movie collections will have a really really awful print of george romero’s ‘night of the living dead’ on it (because of the infamous copyright fiasco). they usually have ancient gems like the silent german classic ‘nosferatu’ and the long lost “white zombie”. there’s usually a couple of classic 1950′s drive-in movies like ‘atom age vampire’ and ‘werewolf in girl’s dormatory’. great stuff always, even tho it’s tacky as hell. basically there’s always a few of those movies on that are so ‘bad’ they’re great.
often there’s a lost hammer film or two tossed in – in this case ‘count dracula and his vampire wives’ (with joanna lumley!) – which is always a treat. there’s also usually a couple of those ‘not really a horror movie but close enough’ category type stuff – movies like “the bat’ (simply because vincent price is in it.) but the real treasures here are the “never heard of them before” films, usually european (and badly dubbed) movies with titles like ‘crypt of the living dead’ and ‘oasis of the zombies’ and ‘voodoo black exorcist’. quite often these can be real gems in the rough and a real surprise (but still bad). where Mill Creek finds the rights to this crap is beyond me. who knew these ever existed in the first place?
now, i have to mention i consider myself a bit of a conniseuer of bad cinema. i love a bad movies – a REALLY bad movie. for instance, the other day i saw ‘the flesh eaters’ on cable and was thrilled to death – like i had re-discovered a modern classic. so, my taste level is pretty ‘loose’, ok? the prints they sell you here in these Mill Creek collections are atrocious, the sound even worse. they’ve been chopped and scratched and reproduced way too many times. there’s gaps and big sections missing. basically these movies aren’t worth the ten bucks you pay for them – no matter how many you get. and i love them. i’ll often sit down for an evening and watch four or five of them (they’ve been cut up so many times they all become rather short films).
last night i watched a film (movie? flick?) that i’d never heard of before called “mama dracula.” what i saw was a film that was so incomprensibly bad that i was actually slack-jawed. it was professionally shot, it LOOKED sorta good, actually. but, beyond that little comment, there is not one positive thing that could be said for this movie. was this supposed to be funny? or camp? or what the hell!? i have to say it’s maybe the worst horror movie i’ve ever seen – certainly the worst vampire movie ever made (with the possible exception of ‘jesus christ, vampire hunter’, which i’m still looking for.) and what’s even more surprising is that it stars maria schnieder and louise fletcher!!
this is remarkable in many many ways. maria schnieider recently died and the obits waxed poetic about her crowning achievement as a modern actress in “last tango in paris’ with marlon brando. but, her obit never mentioned ‘mama dracula”, made around a decade later (in 1980). and poor louise fletcher! one would never ever guess she had just won the academy award for ‘best actress’ a mere three years earlier (in 1977 for ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’). how on earth did she get suckered into making this astonishing dog of a movie? no one is talking…
the real ‘stars’ of this film are a couple of brothers who are a sort of a ‘costello and costello’ set of twin vampire sons of the dracula/elizabeth bathory lead played by fletcher. these two are idiot goofball mutant hybrids of bela lugosi, nosferatu, and frankenfurter. to try to even attempt to describe their performance(s) further would be a disservice to the acting profession. to call them ‘incomprensible boobs’ is not powerful enough. they’re incredible bad to the point that they suck ‘royale’. i mean they’re so awful that they don’t even register as “good’ bad. they’re – just. plain. awful.
i won’t even mention the guy who plays ‘the mad scientist’. to do so would be criminally negligent.
i have a theory about movies from this particular period (the early 1980′s). there seems to a large number of expensively made, truly terrible movies that all seem to have this sort of ‘feel’ to them. it’s obvious that large sums of raw cash were dumped into the making of these films (this was all shot on location in belgium – not cheap). t
act they have such big-budget stars as lousie fletcher and maria schnieider also speaks to the money tossed around (they could not have talked them into this on the cheap). by all rights, this thing should never have gotten past the first draft script phase. yet, here it is, burning my mind out through the eye sockets. how did this thing ever come into being?
well, my theory is that there was a phenomena in the early 80′s called the ‘coke movie’. the way money is spend in the process of movie creation is notoriously loose and fast and raw. movies often inexplicably go over budget by millions of dollars. how is that even possible with these things? i mean REALLY? millions and miillions sorta ‘accidently’ spent?
with money like that hemorraging out, these films probably existed as a way to hide illicit drug money. what better way to hide your earnings from drug trafficing than to slop it into a larder like movie-making where money slips through fingers like blood? it all becomes a tax write-off and a shelter for the enormous amounts illegally obtained and otherwise difficult cash to launder back into society and power. the early 80′s was the ‘miami vice’ apex of white powder excess and hipster cokehead ‘klass’. then crack came along and took the pressure off the richy-rich and focused it all back on the poor where we prefer our drug use to be visible.
besides, ever notice how many of these “coke movie” films often star notorious hipster junkies? the excuse is that they can always be hired cheap, right? and then they become handy scapegoats for the blaming of the over-budget nightmares that ensue. but, the reality is that they often just worked almost directly for drugs in many cases and were attracted to these sorts of movie projects because ‘like attracts like’ (especially in the drug world.) everybody involved were simply freinds…
so, my theory is that this is a classic early 80′s coke movie. you got a better theory?