Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dracula's Widow, Sylvia Kristel R.I.P.

Almost two years ago, Sylvia Kristel succumbed to cancer at the age of 60.  The beauty from the Netherlands is still famous for three "Emmanuelle" movies in the 1970s.  Her erotic performances in those films turned a lot of adolescents into temporary foreign film fans, as they were frequently played on HBO or other movie channels late at night.  In 1988, she had the title role in Christopher Coppola's "Dracula's Widow."  Christopher Coppola delivers a better movie than his uncle Francis did four years later when he made "Bram Stoker's Dracula."  Though released in 1988, Coppola made "Dracula's Widow" in the style of the great Film Noir films of the 1950s, complete with seedy L.A. neighborhoods, dark alleys, cynical old police detectives, and an ultimate femme fatale.
The plot:  Raymond (Lenny von Dohlen) owns a wax museum in Hollywood.  Six crates from Romania arrive at his store (even though he ordered only five), as he is creating a Dracula display.  Retiring for the night, two burglars break in and plan to steal valuable antiques.  Unfortunately for them, Vanessa, Dracula's widow, pops out of one crate and drinks the blood of one of the perpetrators.  Vanessa then heads to a seedy jazz bar and pick up a local L.A. radio personality.  He takes Vanessa to a park to make-out, and Vanessa bites his face off and drinks his blood.  Back to the museum she goes and meets the timid Raymond.  Raymond is shocked, and Vanessa bites him (see photo below), making him her slave.  Under her spell, Raymond is cold to his girlfriend Jenny (Rachel Jones) unless he looks at her jugular vein.
The hapless Raymond chauffeurs Vanessa through the seedier parts of L.A. so she can nourish herself, while he settles for eating pigeons.  At one point, Vanessa comes across some Satan worshipers as they are disemboweling a beautiful blonde.  She joins in the ritual, and discombubulates all 15 of them after the ceremony.  Crusty old Detective Hap Lannon (Josef Summer) shows up, with Van Helsing's grandson, and together they look for Vanessa.  The corpses piling up all have neck wounds, and mangled faces.  Hap doesn't believe in vampires until Helsing brings him to the morgue where the dead victims come to life as they are staked in the heart.  Meanwhile, Jenny is distraught over Raymond's aloofness, and on Vanessa's radar screen.  Vanessa must kill Jenny, as vampires do not deal with jealousy well.  As Hap and Jenny try to save Raymond, Vanessa gets deadlier. 
Will Hap and Jenny save Raymond from Vanessa's spell?  Will Jenny survive Vanessa's wrath?  Will Vanessa blend in to the seedy L.A. nightlife?  Fans of Film Noir will love what Christopher Coppola has delivered here.  Sylvia Kristel is exotic and menacing, and Josef Sommer as Hap turns in a terrific Film Noir type performance.  Don't waste your time with the 1992 Coppola vampire film, enjoy Christopher Coppola's "Dracula's Widow."  This film is on Netflix.  

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