• Count Dracula's Great Love

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 27th, 2016.
    Director: Javier Aguirre
    Cast: Paul Naschy, Rosanna Yanni, Haydee Politoff, Mirta Miller, Ingrid Garbo, José Manuel Martn, Vic Winner
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    Also known under the alternate title of Cemetery Girls, Javier Aguirre’s 1973 film Count Dracula’s Great Love opens with a scene where two men arrive at an aged sanatorium (the “Klinik Dr. Kargos”) with some unorthodox cargo – a coffin! They deliver the goods and then wander about only to, fairly quickly, meet their untimely demises. One of the men, Porteador (José Manuel Martn)… changes.

    From here, a man named Imre (Vic Winner) escort four beautiful young women - Karen (Haydee Politoff), Senta (Rossana Yanni), Marlene (Ingrid Garbo), and Elke (Mirta Miller) – by carriage through the thick forest. When their carriage breaks and they lose a wheel, they’re fortunate enough to encounter a man named Dr. Wendell Marlow (Paul Naschy) who is kind enough to invite all five of them back to his ornate but aging estate. This seems great at first, the ladies are all intrigued by Marlow and Imre is impressed with the man’s tenacity for hunting and trapping. As time passes, however, Porteador reappears and seems to prey on the women. Soon enough, Marlow’s true identity is revealed and his plan to resurrect a certain someone comes to light… a plan that requires the whipping of a virgin woman and a whole lot of sexy bloodshed and neck-biting!

    Presented here in its ‘international version’ Count Dracula’s Great Love is a pretty racy affair. The film contains a fair bit of nudity and plenty of lesbianism both implied and demonstrated between our female cast members – but it’s all the better for it! The four leading ladies assembled for the picture are quite game, showing little in the way of bashfulness or hesitation in the film’s stronger scenes while still remaining very much in character. If these women were under the influence of Count Dracula during their trysts with one another, you’d believe it! There’s almost the feeling that they’ve been hypnotized here, and while it’s never really made clear why Dracula wants lesbians doing what it is that lesbians do in creepy old sanatoriums (outside of the fact that it’s just visually appealing and fun to watch), it never really matters much. There are attractive lesbians here and that’s good enough.

    Naschy is in fine form in this picture. He and Javier Aguirre would make Hunchback Of The Morgue same year, a picture that, like Count Dracula’s Great Love, is a high point in Naschy’s filmography. Here we see him playing a character that has enough in common with his tortured wolfman Waldemar Daninsky (like Daninsky our Dracula is a tortured soul who just wants to be loved!) that we get why the actor would be drawn to the part, but yet the performance is different enough to stand on its own. As is the norm with Nachy’s work in front of the camera from this period, he throws himself into the part without any obvious hesitation. He’s great in the scenes involving Dracula’s seductive powers but so too does he handle himself well in the more action intensive scenes. With his hair slicked back (and with some Christopher Lee-inspired grey streaks applied for good measure!) and a long black cape he looks quite impressive as the world’s most famous vampire.


    Count Dracula’s Great Love arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a 2k scan of the original 35mm inter-negative framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with a good bit rate. Colors look great here – the reds of the blood look quite splashy and bold without coming across as artificially while skin tones look nice and natural (the blood does sometime provide some nice contrast against the pale white necks of the various ladies in the movie!). The image appears free of any artificial sharpening, edge enhancement or noise reduction so a fair bit of film grain is present, just as it should be. Minor white specs and the odd scratch will show up from time to time but for the most part the picture remains quite clean and clear throughout and it’s quite a serious upgrade from the domestic DVD release that came out through BCI/Deimos a few years ago as part of their Exploitation Cinema series (it was presented as Cemetery Girls and double featured with Vampire Hookers). Black levels are quite nice and there aren’t any problems with crush or compression artifacts. This is a nicely detailed and very film-like transfer, the movie looks very good here.

    Audio options are provided in English DTS-HD Mono and Spanish Dolby Digital Mono with subtitles in English and Spanish for EACH of the two language options (meaning these are subtitles and not dubtitles). The original elements for the Spanish track are nowhere to be found, sadly, so it doesn’t sound nearly as good as the English track but including it here even in lesser quality was obviously the right movie. The English track, clearly dubbed, sounds much stronger, cleaner and fuller than the lossy Spanish track. A bit of sibilance can be heard at times, but outside of that it’s fine. Levels are nicely balanced and the dialogue is easy enough to follow.

    The main extra on the disc is the commentary track featuring Paul Naschy and the film’s director, Javier Aguirre, that was originally recorded to be included on the BCI DVD release that never happened once their (admittedly awesome) line of Spanish horror/Naschy releases folded. They start off by talking about how the film has, in the past, been regarded as a love story more than a horror picture, and then go on to talk about aspects of the picture that are both unconventional and traditional, the different expressions that Dracula uses in the picture, how Naschy’s Dracula compares to other takes on the character and what happens when one of the actresses in the film ate ‘too many barnacles!’ They discuss the rules and logic that the movie subscribes to, the locations used for exterior and interior shooting, how Naschy’s character tends to charm the other characters in the movie, the lesbianism featured in the movie, how it was a ‘bold’ decision for Naschy to play Dracula at this point in his career and quite a bit more. This is a pretty active and interesting track and one that fans of the picture should certainly appreciate. The commentary is presented in Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 format with optional subtitles in English and Spanish language options.

    Aside from that, the disc also includes an interview with Mirta Miller. This eight and a half minute piece, in Spanish with optional English subtitles, sees the actress talking about how she got into acting after a successful modeling career. From there, we learn about some of her early roles in Spanish cinema, the difficulties of staying warm when acting in lingerie, what it was like on set working long hours on this film, her thoughts on Naschy, how she got along with pretty much all the cast members, and a fair bit more. There are some great stills contained in here – one sheets from movies she appeared in and pictures from modeling photo shoots – that help to illustrate her story.

    The film’s international theatrical trailer is also found on the disc, along with animated menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie including extra identical to those found on the Blu-ray disc is included. Along with the two discs, the clear plastic Blu-ray case also holds a full color insert booklet of liner notes containing an essay from Naschy expert Mirek Lipinski. His essay focuses on how the film sees Naschy moving away from playing his iconic Waldemar Daninsky character, the challenges that arose for the actor while making the picture, this take on the Dracula character and what makes it interesting, and other details related not just to Naschy but to the director and supporting cast members as well. We also get a nice reversible cover sleeve option – always a nice touch.

    The Final Word:

    Count Dracula’s Great Love is pretty solid stuff – a nice mix of gothic horror and straight up exploitation that moves at a quick pace and is shot with plenty of style. Naschy’s great in the lead and the supporting cast are all in fine form. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release is a good one, presenting the movie in great shape and with some choice supplements accompanying it.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Terrific review, but this is not from the original 35mm negative. This is from the inter-negative, or dupe neg, 2 generations down from the OCN. The rights owners have superior materials but are asking absurd process, so we are lucky this dupe neg ( used for the US release ) is still around with a chain of ownership.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Yeah it says internegative on the box copy, even. Typo on my part.
    1. Koukol's Avatar
      Koukol -
      Great review, Ian. I just have to wait for the price to come down in Canada.
    1. Barry M's Avatar
      Barry M -
      Quote Originally Posted by Koukol View Post
      Great review, Ian. I just have to wait for the price to come down in Canada.
      It's $20.99 on amazon.ca at the moment...


      EDIT: now that the free shipping threshold is 35 bucks, you might want to toss in a preorder for NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND DESIRES, which is also cheapish:

    1. Koukol's Avatar
      Koukol -
      Quote Originally Posted by Barry M View Post
      It's $20.99 on amazon.ca at the moment...


      EDIT: now that the free shipping threshold is 35 bucks, you might want to toss in a preorder for NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND DESIRES, which is also cheapish:

      Thanks, Barry...ordered
    1. Mike Howlett's Avatar
      Mike Howlett -
      Release of the year so far, for me.