Release Date(s)1969 (June 27, 2023)
Studio(s)Vega International Pictures (AGFA/Vinegar Syndrome)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: D
- Audio Grade: C
- Extras Grade: B-
Dracula has been around since Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. Many horror movies and some comedies have featured the character in both period and contemporary tales. Some have had lavish budgets, others far more limited ones. Some were clever, others not. At or near the bottom of the barrel is the comedy Dracula (The Dirty Old Man).
After establishing shots of some unimpressive mountains, the scene shifts to a cave that houses the coffin of Alucard (Dracula spelled backwards). He sports a helmet-like skunk wig, mutters silly puns to himself in a stereotypical Yiddish accent, and transforms into a bat (a puppet on a stick) while peeping through a window at a naked woman.
Alucard contacts real estate agent Mike (Billy Whitton), feigning interest in purchasing a particular property. His real goal is to turn Mike into “Irving Jackalman,” a werewolf and his personal Renfield, who will bring him a new girl every night. The plot—what there is of it—then becomes an excuse for ever more revealing female pulchritude.
Too silly even to be classified as soft-core porn, the film was made a year after the Motion Picture Association of America did away with the outdated Production Code. Though the major studios handled nudity selectively and with taste, some low-budget studios built entire films around it.
Production values are atrocious, with little attempt at credibility. The acting is awful, the spoofing lame, and the editing geared to show as much flesh as possible. The film is narrated by Ron Scott, who also provides the overdubbed voices for all the male characters. Often, the dubbing is so bad that words and lip movements seem to have little relationship to each other. Director William Edwards has no clue how to stage action, so most of the time characters stand around and play directly to the camera. The camera never tracks, sweeps in, irises, or does anything interesting. For a film about a vampire, there’s surprisingly little blood, and what there is can be seen in only fleeting glimpses. The entire undertaking looks like the work of a hormone-driven fifteen-year-old boy shooting a film financed with his weekly allowance.
Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) was shot by director of photography William G. Troiano on 35 mm film with spherical lenses and finished in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The Blu-ray is sourced from the only known 35 mm print in existence. It’s in terrible shape, with heavy green and black vertical scratches running the entire length of the film and appearing at their worst at the beginning of reels. Switch-over cue marks appear in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Lighting is poor throughout, often so dark as to lose detail. Actors blend into the background, without benefit of halo-type back lighting. Skin tones are rendered nicely and often, with completely naked women in scene after scene. The monster make-up is ludicrous, whether Alucard’s widow’s peak resembling a Commando Cody flying helmet, the laughable werewolf mask, or the vampire’s lengthy canines.
The soundtrack is English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. The overdubbing is a failed attempt to infuse humor into this dreadful film. There’s a borscht-belt quality to the voices and it’s hard to distinguish one male voice from another since they’re all provided by the same person. The music track is by the Whit Boyd Combo. Though far better than the film, it’s a poor match-up to the action and is frequently distracting because it plays constantly rather than to highlight certain scenes. After a while, it’s like we’re watching a film with elevator music pumped in.
Bonus materials include the following:
- Audio Commentary by Dennis Campa
- Alternate Version (69:01)
- Tales of a Salesman (63:53)
- Trailers (12:04)
Audio Commentary – Dennis Campa, a film historian known for “Texploitation”—low-budget exploitation films shot in Texas—notes that Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) was filmed mostly in Las Vegas, with some pick-up shots filmed in Dallas. An extensive overview of Whit Boyd, who produced the film, is provided, as well as an overview of exploitation movies shot in Texas. Campa discusses the differences between this version and one released previously on a Something Weird DVD that runs five minutes longer. Noting that some dialogue is bad, some amusing, he says there is “a certain charm” to the film but admits that it’s made many Worst Movies lists. The film’s brief exhibition history in theaters is reviewed. “There’s really something fun and demented about it.” Full frontal nudity, by 1969, was common in sexploitation films. “Man and Wife” was the first film to show actual sexual intercourse on screen. Hard-core films emerged in 1971. Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) is slicker than Whit Boyd’s other exploitation films, and an example of “vintage Texas sleaze.”
Tales of a Salesman – According to the liner notes, this 1965 film “is preserved from the only known 35 mm Technicolor print in existence.” Herman dreams about being warned by his manager to increase his sales. As he contemplates his predicament, a poltergeist arrives to help him out. The ghost surveys the salesman’s territory for potential customers and discovers five scantily-dressed prospects. The plot comes to a dead halt every time female nudity is on screen and the camera dwells and dwells and dwells. From a fairly light tone at the beginning, the film devolves into sexual murder fantasies.
Trailers – Run together as a single block, the trailers include Night of the Witches, Dr. Frankenstein on Campus, Witchcraft, The Horror of It All, The Vampire and the Ballerina, Terror of Orgy Castle, and The Legend of Blood Castle.
Dracula (The Dirty Old Man), with its surfeit of female nudity, has a school boy’s sensibility. The horror plot is simply an excuse to get to scenes of well-endowed women baring their talents. It conjures a bit of nostalgia for a more innocent time when naked young women were enough to titillate audiences. With its jaw-droppingly wooden acting and corny overdubbing, this bizarre film entertains to a degree only because of its utter ineptness.
- Dennis Seuling