Saturday, December 3, 2011

Count Dracula's Great Love (1974)

Count Dracula's Great Love (originally El gran amor del conde Drácula) is a 1974 Spanish film directed by Javier Aguirre. The film is also known as Cemetery Girls (American reissue title), Dracula's Great Love (American promotional title), Dracula's Virgin Lovers (Canadian English title) and The Great Love of Count Dracula (International English title).

When their carriage loses a wheel while traveling over the Borgo Pass, the five stranded passengers, Imre Polvi [ Vic Winner] and four young women -- Karen [Kaydee Politoff], Senta [Rosanna Yanni], Marlene [Ingrid Garbo], and Elke [Mirta Miller] -- are forced to seek refuge at the Klinik Dr Kargos. It was near here, Imre explains to the girls, that Jonathan Harker and Professor van Helsing finally put an end to the king of the vampires, Count Dracula. The sanitarium once held the laboratories of Dr Kargos, who was hanged for his unsavory research in blood studies. It has recently been purchased by an Austrian physician, Dr Wendell Marlow [Paul Naschy], who is agreeable to putting up the travelers until supplies arrive in a week and they can hitch a ride back to Bistritz. The first night in the somewhat rundown sanitarium (Marlow is having difficulty hiring local workers) seems to go well. Karen and Senta share a room while Elke, Marlene, and Imre have their own rooms, although Imre finds his way to Marlene's bedroom for a little lovemaking. When Karen leaves her room to close a window banging in the storm, she runs into a vampire, but Marlow returns her to her bed, assuring both Karen and Senta that it must have been a tramp taking refuge from the bad weather. The next day Marlene and Imre go off alone while the other girls swim in the pool and explore the sanitarium, ending up in a library where they find an old book about Dracula's immortality that foretells a time when a true virgin will fall in love with Dracula and give herself to him willingly. When this happens, Dracula will be restored to his full power and will rule mankind for all eternity, and his daughter Radna will also be awakened. The second night, as Imre makes his way to Marlene's room again, he is attacked and bitten by the vampire/tramp. When Imre finally makes it to Marlene's room, he bites her, too. Meanwhile, Karen can't sleep, so she leaves her bedroom and finds Marlow sitting in a chair, reading. Since Marlow has been gone all day (checking his traps, he says), they take a stroll together and talk about his lonely life. The next morning, the girls notice that Marlene and Imre have disappeared but chalk it up to them going off together and getting lost in the forest. The girls spend the day looking for them, until Senta gets her foot caught in one of Marlow's traps. When they return to the sanitarium, Marlow begins to clean up the blood but then relinquishes the duty to Karen so that he can get some disinfectant. During the night, Marlene bites Elke's neck. Senta wakes up and pokes her head outside her bedroom door. She sees Marlow walking down the hall. Senta has had the hots for Marlow since the day they arrived, so she invites him into her bed and he is all too happy to join her, although he does lecture her afterwards about how they shouldn't have done this. Besides, Senta is not a virgin. Meanwhile, Imre tries to put the bite on Karen, but her scream brings Marlow running. Marlow bests Imre and tosses him out the window. Imre falls on a stick of some sort and is impaled. Suddenly, Karen is attacked by the vampire/tramp. Marlow fights with him, but the tramp seems to be getting the best of Marlow, until Marlow catches up with him and drives a stake through his heart. Karen cowers in Marlow's arms and reveals that she's in love with him. Marlow promises that they will leave tomorrow. When Karen wakes up, Marlow is gone. She goes in search of him and hears him calling her. She follows his voice into a chamber of coffins and finds Marlene, Elke, and Senta (who has now become a vampire) waiting for her. Marlow reveals himself as Dracula and tells Karen of his plan to use her to cause his final rebirth along with the rebirth of his daughter Radna, then he cuts Karen's neck and drinks her blood. With the first ceremony completed, he imprisons Karen to wait until the next full moon when they will perform the second ceremony.

When the next full moon comes around, the three vampiresses kidnap a virgin from the village and whip her until her blood flows. Then they hang her upside down over Radna's coffin and slit her neck. At the same time, they slit Karen's wrist so that Karen's blood will mingle with the innocent virgin's blood, both combining to give life to Radna. After going through all that in order to awaken Radna, however, Dracula/Marlow decides, out of love for Karen, not to awaken Radna and has her coffin tossed in a lake. He stakes Senta through the heart and hangs Marlene and Elke out in the sun to fry. But, when Dracula/Marlow asks Karen to renounce her mortal life and unite with him, Karen refuses, so he thrusts a stake through his own heart and turns to dust. Alone now, Karen begins the long walk over the mountains to Bistritz.

85 MIN

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