Ko-Fi Request: ‘Blood for Dracula’

This article was based on a request from one of my patrons on ko-fi. For $3, you can recommend a film for me to watch and write an article about! Visit this link if interested!

“I thought ‘worker’ and ‘servant’ were the same.”

“Just don’t make that mistake again.”

Those words, exchanged respectively between the assistant of a wealthy count and a humble mansion handyman in Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol’s Blood for Dracula, would in most contexts seem a triumphant Marxist retort. Here, where the bourgeois assistant is guiding his vampiric master towards murder victims and the handyman is a rapist, needless to say the message is muddled a tad.

Blood for Dracula has a vaguely satiric tone, but I was never sure what it was trying to say. The depiction of the upper class as bloodsucking fiends out to drain the life-force of the workers is as old as, well, Dracula. And we need look no further than modern thinkpiece culture to see far-left ideology declaimed as inherently misogynist. What, if anything, is this film’s perspective?

At first blush, it seems a parody of the era’s sex-positive counter-culture. The basic premise is that Count Dracula needs to drink the blood of virgins to survive, but he has trouble finding any in this modern free-love world. It’s more like a one-liner than an idea on which to base a film. Despite Morrissey’s reputation as a minor icon of the new culture (he’s perhaps best known for his work with The Velvet Underground), and despite the film’s copious displays of sexuality and bloody violence, I found Blood for Dracula surprisingly conservative.

This doesn’t have to mean it’s a bad movie, though. I loved Udo Kier’s lead performance. His Dracula is a spoiled child of privilege, a brat who whines that the countryside inn where he stays doesn’t have any of the food he likes. He possesses no menace or even malice. He’s just a rich baby. It’s a clever unraveling of the mystique of Dracula, and an intriguing take on the character’s inherent class commentary. Kier is just a lot of fun in the role, too. He nails that feeble, childlike temper.

To be fully honest, Blood for Dracula may just have caught me in the wrong mood. A film this gleefully sacrilegious should be right up my alley. For some reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. I found its ironic tone grating more than entertaining, and its politics totally inscrutable.

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