Creature Feature Week on WNYW Channel 5, 1986. That was when I first became aware Count Dracula's Great Love. We taped it off TV, censored to absolute Hell. It was dubbed and would not be the only dubbed movie I would see for the first time that week, but in fact I believe Count Drac and Godzilla 1985 would be the first dubbed movies I would ever see in my life. I could almost cite the exact date I watched them. One from Japan. One from Spain. I fell in love with Godilla 1985 and had an emotional attachment to it that lasts to this day. It would take years for the same to happen with Drac. I didn't know who Paul Naschy was, and the plot wasn't exactly straight forward for a six year old to wrap his brain around especially when the focal point of the movie (the skin) was cut clean out. The gallons of blood was cut as well. These were simpler times. Times when splatter wasn't shown in prime time even during Creature Feature week.
I submit to you that there is a different kind of nostalgia. You watch a movie and maybe you actually DO NOT like it, but the shear memory of a thing can inspire you to have fondness for it and seed a possible positive response for that thing. Case in point is this here Dracula picture that could easily not be a Dracula picture, but I'm quite sure having Dracula in the title helps to bring in the bucks. I had no reason to like the movie, especially with everything to love cut out, but I can share with you now that I have the sincerest of feelings for this picture now,the roots lie in Creature Feature Week but the trunk and leaves are in this beautiful Blu-ray created by Vinegar Syndrome just in time for Halloween. All Blu-rays are triumps for V.S., but not all of them are inspirational. Not all of them create old memories that never existed.
Of course watching Count Dracula's Great Love now on Blu-ray with all of the naughty bits available for my still hornball eyes was a completely new experience for me. Yes, Paul Naschy still has supremely poor dubbing that comes off like something out of a Bing Crosby movie. You'd expect him to break out into White Christmas with his deep sultry, very UN-Naschy-like voice. You can do without it watching a Spanish language track with subtitles, but I thought it would be more fitting given my experience with the movie to watch it the way I sort of saw in the 80's. In fact there are many language and subtitle options. It's important to note that watch the Spanish language version does offer a different experience as there are different scenes included in the American release that were a bit more risque and in better quality in that more complete release. The disc makes this quite clear with a disclaimer. Choose your own adventure.
The naughty bits are absolutely worth the price of admission. These are the kind of skin scenes that let you know what you were missing in Europe in the 70's. I was born in the wrong era or maybe I simply wasn't born Paul Naschy. None of us were. Naschy Lives in my libido. There are plenty of gratuitous moments to keep our eyes occupied and it is quite clear why this film received an X rating a long time ago. It's fun to watch X rated movies, right? Even though it doesn't really mean anything anymore (if it even meant anything beyond a marketing decision back then). I remember when I watched Zombie 2 for the first time; I stared at that X rating on the VHS box for quite some time. I was a bad ass. X marked the spot.
There's skin, and then there's the blood. We have a film that features that beautiful ultra red blood. it's the kind of blood that Herschel Gordon Lewis would have been proud to offer on screen. In the opening minutes of the movie you receive a surprise ax to the head that goes a long way. In fact it carries you humorously through the entire credit sequence. This should not be the scene that defines the whole movie mind you. Count Dracula's Great Love is more erotic than it is a splatter picture, but it's also not a Jess Franco nudie fest either. No artsy fartsy bullshit here. It's a monster movie with seductive elements and emotional turns of fate that lead the players down paths of doom, eternal slavery to the prince of darkness and even a sort of redemption.
We have a reversible cover option, one more traditional and the other modern. Both are excellent choices. Mirta Miller gives an interview that is short, sweet and nice to see if for no other reason than to see what has become of her after so many years. There's an archival commentary track including Paul Naschy himself. The disc comes with an 8 page booklet (something relatively new for a V.S. release). Enjoy the still gallery as well. On a personal note, I loved see dear friend Elena Anele's name in the credits as one who worked on the extras for this disc. Elena is a champion of Spanish Horror and is the curator of SpanishFear.com as well as Horror Rises From Spain. I have enjoyed her work and friendship for years and have had the pleasure of being on her podcast a couple years back.
The transfer is pure Vinegar Syndrome which means that the quality is top notch. It's a dark movie that can have flaws due to how the film was shot, but it is a clean negative, restored properly and without an overabundance of dust or damage. The grain structure suits the picture, and does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie. The black levels are rich and dark.
This is a personal favorite release on Blu-ray this year. I am lucky to have had the strange connection with this film early in life, and the new experience of watching it now only reinforced the importance of the network TV Horror experience lost to this generation; hopefully one that can be recaptured by the noble work of Horror Hosts and even the work of Vinegar Syndrome as a purveyor of classic monster erotic nightmares. You know where I stand. You pick this up and enjoy it. No excuses.
From Vinegar Syndrome:
After their carriage breaks down and their driver is killed in a freak accident, a group of young women are forced to spend the night in a strange and isolated former sanatorium, which has just been purchased by the secretive Dr. Marlow (Paul Naschy). Unbeknownst to the visitors, Dr. Marlow is actually Count Dracula, and stalking the sanatorium are his recently turned vampire slaves. Soon the guests begin to be attacked by the ravenous bloodsuckers, while Dracula sets his sights on the beautiful virgin Karen, deciding to offer her his hand in marriage…
One of Naschy’s most significant roles, Javier Aguirre’s COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE is a sensitive, complex, and surprisingly subversive Dracula story featuring expert direction, effective gothic atmosphere, and gruesome violence. Presented here in its full strength ‘unclothed’ export version, Vinegar Syndrome brings this classic piece of Spanish horror cinema to Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world, fully restored from its uncut International negative and featuring a never released feature length audio commentary track with star Naschy and director Aguirre.
Directed by: Javier Aquirre
1973 / 83 minutes / Color / 1.85:1
Actors: Paul Naschy, Rosanna Yanni, Haydee Politoff, Mirta Miller, Ingrid Garbo, Alvaro de Luna
• All extras on both formats
• Region free Blu-ray and DVD combo pack
• Scanned & restored in 2k from 35mm internegative
• Commentary track with director Javier Aguirre and lead actor Paul Naschy, moderated by Angel Gomez Rivero
• New video interview with actress Mirta Miller
• Includes both the English dub and original Spanish language soundtrack
• International theatrical trailer
• Still gallery
• 8 page booklet by Mirek Lipinski
• English and Spanish subtitles
• Reversible cover artwork