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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lucio Fulci's Young Dracula: A Review by Troy Howarth

Young Dracula (1975)

A businessman (Lando Buzzanca) is bitten by the effeminate Count Dragelescu

(John Steiner) and turns into a vampire....

Despite a screenplay co-written by Pupi Avati (director of the acclaimed The House with the Laughing Windows), Young Dracula - aka, Dracula in the Provinces- doesn't emerge as one of Lucio Fulci's stronger pictures. The film came at a good creative period for the writer/director, and it bears the hallmarks of classic Fulci: atmospheric cinematography by Sergio Salvati, crisp editing by Vincenzo Tomassi, a score by the trio of Frizzi, Bixio and Tempera. In terms of production values, it's a capably mounted and executed production. Alas, despite the best efforts of an above-average cast, the film never really catches fire. The film deals with the themes of homosexual panic and the exploitation of the working class, but its satire feels forced and heavy handed - a tremendous contrast to the legitimately funny The Eroticist (1972), directed by Fulci only a few years before. In that film, Lando Buzzanca gave a terrific comedic performance as a senator with an overwhelming ass fetish – its potshots at Italian institutions landed the director in hot water, whereas no controversy greeted Young Dracula, a sign, perhaps, of its comparative feebleness. That is not to say that the film is without merit, however, nor does it indicate that it belongs in the bottom tier of Fulci's filmography. Some set pieces are executed with undeniable flair, notably a genuinely amusing visit to a phony wizard, played with elan by Ciccio Ingrassia. Fulci also piles on the nudity, a genuine plus with so many attractive starlets in the cast. Buzzanca is amusing as the neurotic antihero, and he's well supported by the likes of John Steiner, Sylva Koscina and the aforementioned Ingrassia.

Valentina Cortese (Day for Night, The Girl Who Knew Too Much) makes a fleeting appearance, but isn't given much to do. The metaphor of vampirism for corporate greed promises a much sharper satire than what emerges, but devotees of the director would still do well to seek it out. Regretfully, the only version circulating in the US is of very poor quality, derived from a Greek VHS source, but at least it is in English and widescreen. One can only hope that a company like Severin or Blue Underground may afford it a proper R1 DVD release.

**1/2 out of ****


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