Saturday, July 15, 2017

Apostle of Dracula – review

Director: Emilio Schargorodsky

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

Originally titled Dracula 0.9, this film recently appeared on Prime Videos. Unfortunately the Spanish film is dubbed into English, and really badly dubbed at that. This brutalisation of the dialogue hasn’t helped my impression of the film but I suspect that the experience isn’t much better in the original Spanish.

IMDb do suggest that it is “a work carried out by film lovers with minimal financial resources but a lot of passion.” That might be the case, and I do appreciate the efforts of zero/low budget filmmakers, but it doesn’t necessarily make it good.

gothic pile
The film opens with an intertitle telling us that the film was inspired by Stoker’s Dracula and Edgar Allan Poe’s Poem “The Spirits of the Dead”, perhaps a lesser known poem but the inspirations behind the film are of a high pedigree. We see a castle in silhouette through the credits and then we are in a club and a man and woman look to each other across a crowd.

on the boat
A small boat is at sea as the storm lashes it, we hear her screams but, as the camera investigates, it becomes clear that they are screams of passion as she sleeps with the man from the club. There is a brief flash of animal flesh. A subtitle suggests it is 24 hours before the 9th eclipse. She awakens in the morning, there is a volume of Edgar Allan Poe and the man is piloting the boat. She tells him that she doesn’t know who he is but she loves him. We will later discover that they are Lucy (Nathalie Legosles) and Dracula (Javier Caffarena).

Seward and Van Helsing
Lucy rides in a carriage into the modern day Spanish town. As she looks around the town she feels that two men are following her (we discover that they are Seward (Antonio Del Río) and Van Helsing (Paul Lapidus)). She searches for Bram Stoker Street, where the cathedral is, and slips away from the men by going in. Later she passes a violinist, Renfield (Francisco Del Río), and goes to a hotel, asks for a room, discovers she is already staying there and mistakes the receptionist (Virginia Palomino) for her mother. Her memory gaps seem to be a form of amnesia.

bitten
Once in her room she starts having flashbacks to her distant past when she attracted the attention of Dracula and was bitten by him. Van Helsing refuses to lose another to the vampire and makes a vow to fight to save Lucy’s soul whatever the cost. It is this vow that seems to have allowed Van Helsing and Seward to cease aging as they pursue the vampire and his blood bride. It also appears that Lucy suffered a supernatural amnesia and this was destined to last until the 9th eclipse -her memory is coming back.

like Orlock
And that, as they say, is that – plot wise at least. There is a lot of wandering aimlessly but not too much else happens. In modern days Dracula eventually shaves his head and dons a coat that makes him appear like Count Orlock. The film does do a really interesting thing with portraits, which I won’t spoil, and there is some nice shadow work, but generally the film is turgid in pace, there are strange shot framing moments that actually made me think of Jess Franco and worst of all, as mentioned, is the dubbing. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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