Death Ship (1980)

A group of happy passengers on a cruise ship is having a jolly good time, until they suddenly gets hit by another ship. The outcome is, of course, fatal. The few survivors gets aboard a lifeboat, and gets picked up but a mysterious black ship that emerges from the fog. When they all get on board the mysterious and eerie ship, they quickly notice that there’s not a single person there except themselves, and they realize something is terribly wrong on this creepy ship. That feeling gets confirmed when they find out that this has actually been a Nazi-torture ship that’s been sailing the seas for years, controlled by the Nazi-ghosts who are tricking people aboard. And when one of the survivors from the cruise ship, the captain, gets possessed by the Nazi-captain that once ruled this death ship, they all seem to be doomed…

 

Death Ship is a low-budget movie directed by Alvin Rakoff, which starts rather promising. We have a gang who, due to unfortunate events, gets on board a mysterious ship where not a single person can be found, and creepy stuff starts happening. And it’s all because of the Nazi’s of course, who else. With a concept like this it’s evident you can get a little bit of cheesy 80’s fun…and with a Nazi-torture ship, there could have been so much potential for a gore-filled flick here with some really nasty scenes! But, alas, we get no such thing…

 

The positives is that the movie manages to keep a certain atmosphere, despite not being able to aptly build up the suspense. I guess part of the problem lies in how the Nazi-torture-ship thing is revealed far too early to the viewers, and then the movie spends a considerable amount of time making the characters find this out as well. And like already mentioned, there’s a disappointing lack of blood n’ gore, where the most memorable scene must be where a lady takes a shower and gets blood over her instead of water…but that scene is actually so long-winded it becomes slightly foolish…if anything, you get a few minutes of a screaming woman and some tits. Oh, and if you think she’s taking the screaming a little too far? Well, as you might guess the blood in the shower isn’t real, but the actress was told it was real, for effect…

 

While Death Ship isn’t that bad, the biggest disappointment is the lack of actual torture on a so-called torture ship. The death scenes are very downplayed, and it’s a little bit too slow for its own good at certain parts. Overall though, the plot is pretty interesting and there’s a solid atmosphere, plus steady camera work and a high production value despite the low budget. This makes it entertaining enough despite its flaws. You just can’t help thinking of all the lost opportunities here though, and I think this is a movie that could have done well with a remake going into full exploitation-mode.

 

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Director: Alvin Rakoff
Writer: John Robins, Jack Hill, David P. Lewis
Country & year: UK, Canada, 1980
Actors: George Kennedy, Richard Crenna, Nick Mancuso,Sally Ann Howes, Kate Reid, Victoria Burgoyne, Jennifer McKinney, Danny Higham, Saul Rubinek, Murray Cruchley, Doug Smith, Anthony Sherwood
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0080603/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dracula’s Widow (1988)

Dracula's Widow We are in one of the darker corners of Hollywood, Los Angeles, where the young man Raymond Everett (Lenny Von Dohlen) owns a horror-themed wax museum. One day he gets some new deliveries, all the way from Romania, one of which is a casket that contains something you’ll never guess what – Vanessa, Dracula’s widow (Sylvia Kristel). Yes, a living, bloodsucking vampire. So why has she gotten herself all the way over to Los Angeles, you may wonder? No one knows. She doesn’t know, the script doesn’t know, even the Man Who Knows poster we see on the wall on Raymond’s apartment, doesn’t know. So where do we go from here? Who knows.

 

Anyway, as soon she rises from the casket, she goes straight to a bar where she hooks up a random, sleazy guy who will become her first victim to feed her need for human blood. At the same time, two men breaks into the wax museum while Raymond is upstairs sipping red wine and watching Nosferatu. After Vanessa kills one of the men, she goes up to Raymond and claims him as her slave before she puts her teeth in his neck, and wants him to take her back to her husband in Romania.

 

Instead of just giving her a one-way ticket and wish her the best, he tells her the shocking fact that Dracula is dead, and she’s a widow. Now she wants to know who killed him, so she can have her revenge. And guess what – Van Helsing’s grandson, simply named Dr. Helsing, coincidentally lives in Hollywood. Of course. And even though he’s old and fragile, and should rather be at a nursing home, he’s still determined and pretty eager to continue the legacy of his grandfather to hunt down vampires.

 

Dracula's Widow

 

And no joking here, this is the plot so far. We also get a crime investigation side-plot with Lt. Lannon (Josef Sommer) when Vanessa starts to leave more dead bodies around after her ongoing killing spree in Hollywood. When she’s not transforming herself into a bat, she uses her long fingers as daggers to kill her prey. There’s a pretty pointless, yet funny massacre scene with a group of devil-worshippers who are  about to sacrifice a naked blond chick to Satan, where the B-movie glory skyrockets all up to eleven. We see Vanessa turn into a monstrous creature with some really cool prosthetic makeup, as she kills off the whole group which leaves another gory crime scene to Lt. Lannon. He, of course, eventually gets in touch with Dr. Helsing, who easily convinces Hannon that all the killing is done by a vampire.

 

It’s noteworthy to mention that Dracula’s Widow is written and directed by Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, who also made a certain Dracula film some years later. It’s easy to crap all over the film by comparing Christopher to his superior uncle, but Dracula’s Widow isn’t completely hopeless when it comes to cheap entertaining value, with some good old ’80s cheese. It’s a sleazy, gory and just a plain silly popcorn flick to kill off a Wednesday night. Nothing more, nothing less. The funniest moments here is of course the comical over-acting by Silvia Kristel, with her goofy facial expressions that she displays when she tries to look intimidating when she’s not wearing the monster make-up. Lenny Won Dohlen, known from Twin Peaks, has the same angsty look he always portrays. I also like the scenes with Dr. Helsing, that old geezer cracks me up. The guy who plays Lt. Lennon is the only one who takes his role dead serious, even though there’s absolutely nothing to take seriously here.

 

Dracula’s Widow is available on DVD after a quick search.

 

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Director: Christopher Coppola
Country & year: USA, 1988
Actors: Sylvia Kristel, Josef Sommer, Lenny von Dohlen, Marc Coppola, Stefan Schnabel, Rachel Jones, Duke Ernsberger, G.F. Rowe, Richard K. Olsen, Lucius Houghton, J. Michael Hunter, Traber Burns
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0097230/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upír z Feratu (1982)

Upír z Feratu (1982)Upír z Feratu (also known as Ferat Vampire and Der Autovampir) is a black Ferat racing car that sucks blood from its driver’s feet through the pedal. Even if you wear shoes with thick soles. And you understand the hilarious pun, right? nosFERATu. Har-Har.

 

If you expect a crazy Maximum Overdrive-ish  thing here, or a miniature car with bat wings fluttering with strings in the light of the full moon, Ed Wood-style, you can just give this a pass right away. It is impossible not to expect something real special when you hear a title like DER AUTOVAMPIR while taking a look at its cover, and with Dracula himself appearing in the original poster. Be ready to be really underwhelmed, for this pretty obscure film from Czech Republic is obscure for a good reason.

 

The plot goes something like this: A foreign car manufacturer has created a whole new car design that is using human blood as fuel. Dr. Malek has realized from the start that there is something really fishy about this company, and is not at all happy when his colleague, Mima, has signed a contract with them to work as a rally driver. Dr. Malek comes in contact with another bizarre guy, a scientist, who looks more like a creepy uncle that you never would allow babysitting your kids. He also likes to sneak up on people while they shower. Fuck this guy. However, he is convinced that this Ferat lives on human blood. And in order to convince Dr. Malek what they’re dealing with, he puts on an old roll of Nosferatu to lecture him about vampires, as if he was a five year old. And nothing much really happens from here. We get a completely random sex scene where someone cuts himself on a broken bottle that happens to contain blood. There’s also a completely random scene where an old, disorientated grandma is run over by someone (off screen) during rush hour. Just because of shock value, I guess. Except it’s so poorly filmed that it isn’t shocking at all. The film builds up to a rather anticlimactic sequence with a rally racing which you probably couldn’t give a shit about unless you’re a big fan of cars and… well, rally racing.

 

I must also point out that this is not a comedy, or a parody, this is made in all seriousness with serious actors, dry as sandpaper and with really dull dialogue that doesn’t help much to keep the interest up. And to make it look more serious, Dr. Malek is played by a guy who looks like a clone of Bill Gates, and is as bland, wooden and uncharismatic as a potato. However, one has to be a complete mental imbecile to take any of this as seriously as the communist censorship board in the Czech Republic did by cutting away the only two scenes containing blood, and the only thing that reminded the viewer that this was actually a horror movie. Well, “horror” is a word that fits very loosely anyway. These scenes are now added back on the limited German DVD/Blu-ray release, but they’re too tame and downright weak and silly to add any form of shock value. And if you expect some great visuals here, there’s not much. Most of the scenes are filmed out in the broad daylight, mainly in the outskirts of Prague that comes off a bit cheap and lazy. I’m not sure what to make out of Der Autovampir, to be honest, or what the appeal is. There’s several eye-rolling and unintentionally funny moments here for sure, which is impossible for a film like this to avoid, but as a whole, you’re not missing out a damn thing unless you’re in for a few chuckles.

 

Der Autovampir

 

Director: Juraj Herz
Country & year: Czech Republic, 1982
Actors: Jirí Menzel, Dagmar Havlová, Jana Brezková, Petr Cepek, Jan Schmid, Zdenka Procházková, Blanka Waleská
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0083264/

 

 

Tom Ghoul