Sunday, September 20, 2009

Joe Dallesandro: Blood For Dracula

Blood For Dracula was the next film I watched after Flesh Of Frankenstein and I have to say that I preferred Dracula to Frankenstein. Written and Directed once again by Paul Morrissey, Blood For Dracula struck my fancy mainly because of the talented and entertaining cast which includes Udo Kier as Dracula (the dying vampire), Joe Dallesandro as Mario (the De Fiore family servant), the beautiful Stefania Casini as Rubinia (one of the De Fiore daughters), and Dominique Darel as Saphiria (Rubinia De Fiore's sister), and Roman Polanski who delightfully makes a cameo appearance at one point.

The story is about a dying Dracula (Kier) and his loyal sidekick, Anton (Arno Juerging) who leave Romania on a quest to Italy for virgin (or as Kier pronounces it, "wirgin") blood. Dracula needs virgin blood because any other blood from a non-virgin woman debilitates him and makes him very ill. "Why Italy?" you ask. The ever faithful Anton discovers that Italy, being devoutly Catholic, should yield more than a few virgins for Dracula to choose from. With a little more research upon arriving in Italy, Anton brings the ever weakening Dracula news that they will be heading to the crumbling De Fiore family estate in order for Dracula to pose as seeking a bride in order to get a chance to get one of the four De Fiore daughters alone long enough to obtain life-sustaining virgin blood from one of them.

Alas, poor Dracula is not so successful in his first few tries because he gets a hold of the two "marriageable" but definitely not virgin daughters, Saphiria and Rubinia who have been spending all of their free time with the very handsome and experienced servant Mario.

The oldest daughter, Esmeralda is evidently a virgin, but is overlooked by her parents and the Count in the Count's pursuit of the more beautiful and more "marriageable" middle daughters. The youngest daughter, Perla is a mere 14 years old and is not considered old enough to be married off to the Count.
Dracula soon discovers that neither Saphiria nor Rubinia are truthful when they tell him they are virgins, as their blood proves to be like poison to his body. All seems to be lost for Dracula when Mario catches on to the vampire nature of Dracula and he (Dracula) is forced to make a hasty exit from the De Fiore estate. Mario quickly realizes that Perla is going to be targeted as Dracula's next victim, so he takes it upon himself to take her virginity to save her, of course.

Mario becomes a totally kick-ass hero wielding a stake and taking care of business and finishing off Dracula. Mario and Perla end up being the only two characters alive or whole since Dracula dies (in pieces I might add) at the hands of Mario, the mother is stabbed by Anton who in return shoots him dead, Esmeralda impales herself on the stake already in Dracula over her grief and love for him, and the two other sisters are left perhaps never to recover from their trances induced by Dracula's bite.

I have to say that I absolutely adore Joe Dallesandro's performance in this film as Mario the tough, no nonsense, Marxist servant who is both taunted, adored and used for sexual pleasure by the two middle De Fiore daughters Saphiria and Rubinia. The fact that the girls don't consider Mario marriage material because of his status as a servant is something that Mario pretends not to care about even though the girls only see fit to use him for their pleasure and entertainment. While the girls taunt and tease Mario about their plans to secure the Count Dracula as a rich husband for themselves, Mario makes the best of the situation by using them right back and roughing them up as much as possible in the process. It is clear that Mario both hates and, reluctantly perhaps, likes Rubinia and Saphiri. Dallesandro's tough and at times tender portrayal of Mario is one that I will never forget. Perhaps my favorite line in this and any film ever is when Mario, Saphiria and Rubinia are discussing the youngest sister, Perla's virginity and Mario oh-so-matter-of-factly states: "I'd love to rape the hell out of her". What makes that line so great is his genius delievery of the line. It is a line of dialogue that could have made an audience really hate Mario's character but, in Joe's delivery of it, it endears him to us so much more. Joe plays a servant-turned-deadly-sexy-hero in this film and he does it with such ease and coolness, Mario's character couldn't have been done justice by any other actor. Before I end, I should add that Dominique Darel really caught my eye in this film as the bratty and love-torn Saphiria. I haven't seen her in anything else yet, but I was really blown away by how striking she was in this film. Of course Stefania Casini is quite lovely herself, especially in this film, but Darel really was beautiful.

It is definitely hard to really see anyone else in a film when it stars the eternally gorgeous Joe Dallesandro, but both Darel and Casini are really something in this film as well. One more thing I must mention is the sensual and ethereal costumes of the De Fiore sisters in Blood For Dracula. I always notice the costumes and fashion, and the gowns and night-dresses were so lacy, sexy, flowy and absolutely breathtaking.