Dracula Sucks (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Mar 14, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Dracula Sucks (4K UHD Review)

Director

Philip Marshak

Release Date(s)

1978 (February 11, 2022)

Studio(s)

First International Pictures (Peekarama/Vinegar Syndrome)
  • Film/Program Grade: N/A
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: B
  • Extras Grade: B+

Review

An erotic parody of the Bram Stoker original, Dracula Sucks was released in 1978 with a cast of familiar faces in the pornographic industry including Jamie Gillis, John Leslie, Seka, John Holmes, Annette Haven, Paul Thomas, Kay Parker, and Serena. Also among the cast is horror veteran Reggie Nalder (Salem’s Lot), who gives his all as the ever-vigilant Van Helsing. Jamie Gillis stars as the infamous bloodsucker of the night, also fully committing and giving a surprisingly strong performance. The hilarity stems from aspects of the original story being turned on their head, including Van Helsing’s internal dialogue, which is often a byproduct of his being absolutely fatigued with the idiots surrounding him. The filmmakers hold the Bela Lugosi original film in high regard, paying homage while simultaneously poking fun at the story. Hilarious, sexy, and even well-made, Dracula Sucks goes about as far as you can imagine, and then some.

Dracula Sucks was shot by director of photography Hanania Baer on 35 mm film using Panaflex cameras and Panavision lenses, finished photochemically, and was released in theaters at the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama line presents the film with a native 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative, graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 is the only available option). This is a highly organic and colorful presentation with medium but well attenuated grain. Occasional scratches and speckling are the only flaws in an otherwise impeccable presentation. Faults with the original cinematography, including shots that are out of focus, are still present. Thankfully, this is a mostly well-shot film so those visual flaws aren’t frequent. The color grade deepens the blacks, allowing for more detail, but also enriches colors, including potent uses of red, blue, and green. Flesh tones are natural while smoky, shadowy environments with shafts of light are more nuanced. Skin textures and details on clothing and objects are greatly enhanced. Contrast is perfect and the image is stable throughout.

Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. It can be a choppy soundtrack in places, particularly with overdubs, but the various elements, including the score, come through well enough. Distortion and low treble are prevalent throughout.

In addition to the 4K Ultra HD, Vinegar Syndrome’s Limited Edition package includes a Blu-ray of the film in 1080p. Both discs sit inside a black amaray case with an insert featuring new artwork on the front and the original poster artwork on the reverse. Everything is housed within a slipcover featuring similar new artwork. The following extras are included on both discs:

DISC ONE: UHD

  • Audio Commentary by William Margold and Joe Rubin

DISC TWO: BD

  • Audio Commentary by William Margold and Joe Rubin
  • Lust at First Bite (HD – 74:51)
  • Return to Castle Hill (SD – 22:04)
  • Potluck (SD – 43:51)
  • Ruben’s Revenge (SD – 12:13)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (SD – 3:08)
  • German Art Gallery (SD – 18 in all – 1:46)

The audio commentary, recorded for Vinegar Syndrome’s 2014 DVD release of the film, features co-writer and actor William Margold, with Vinegar Syndrome’s Joe Rubin sitting in as a moderator. It goes out of sync occasionally, likely due to them watching a different version of the film at the time, but it mostly syncs up. Both men are frank about the production and offer plenty of details about the cast and crew. Lust at First Bite is the alternate version of the film, which is shorter than the original, but features over forty minutes of alternate footage, including additional hardcore moments. The scenes have also been re-arranged in various ways with different sound effects, alternate dialogue, different music cues, and an alternate ending. In essence, this version is even more about the sex. Some of it appears to come from dupes, but it’s mostly from the same high quality source. The film has been released over the years in several different versions, so having at least one of them in high quality is a good thing. Return to Castle Hill features co-writers Darryl Marshak and William Margold taking a road trip to the area of the castle where the film was shot, sharing their memories of the era and making the film along the way. Potluck is a 1970 short film directed by Dan Gordon and produced by and starring Phillip Marshak. Ruben’s Revenge is a 1971 short film directed by Phillip Marshak. Both films are in rough shape, particularly when it comes to the audio, but they provide an interesting insight into these people as filmmakers. Last is the original theatrical trailer and an art gallery featuring 18 stills of German posters and lobby cards. It would have been nice to have had a featurette dedicated exclusively to the various versions of the film, of which there are at least four, but this is still an informative and entertaining selection of extras.

Vinegar Syndrome’s 4K Ultra HD release of Dracula Sucks is amazing news for fans of classic erotica. It’s a strange film, but oddly compelling. The horror and comedy elements mixed with sex don’t exactly blend, but the attempt is something to certainly behold. This Ultra HD offers great visual quality and extras, meaning that both fans and the open-minded will be pleased.

- Tim Salmons

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