The Sins of Dracula (2014) d. Richard Griffin (USA)
Meet Billy (Jamie Dufault). He’s a good boy. Like, a really good boy. We know this because Billy sings in the church choir, has nightly prayer meetings with his parents, and his idea of passionate coupling is a chaste smooch with his uber-patient girlfriend Shannon (Sarah Nicklin). But when Shannon, hoping to expand his circle of friends beyond the pew perchers, lures Billy to a local community theater’s auditions (for Godspell, so it’s okay, right?), she unwittingly exposes him not only to his first encounter with drug addicts, homosexuals, and RPG fangirls, but also to . . . SATAN! Okay, not really Satan, but the next best/worst thing in the form of the Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula (a curiously top-billed Michael Thurber, although perhaps not so curious when one notes that he’s appeared in nearly all of director Griffin’s efforts to date).
This is the first feature I’ve seen from the wildly prolific Griffin, although I was marginally aware of The Disco Exorcist from a year or two back. It’s clear from a glance at his filmography (populated with titles like Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead and Creature from the Hillbilly Lagoon) that he’s more interested in chortles than chills, and while there are a few sticky Karo-syrup splatters, Sins of Dracula is decidedly more comedy than horror.
Let me amend that: decidedly more attempted comedy than attempted horror. Because regardless of the spirited approach, “zany” characters, taboo-busting antics, and robust overacting, I found myself staring helplessly at the video counter in disbelief that only a few seconds had passed since I had last wondered how soon this would all be over. (Answer: 81 minutes – at least they had enough consideration to keep it short.)
I get that they were trying to be funny, and, um, “E for effort,” I guess. I admire the fact that they dug out a few colored lighting gels to gussy up their painful SOV cinematography and that they footed the bill for some decent vampire teeth. I like the lobby card-style promotional pics and the awesome painted one-sheet design which kicks all sorts of ass over the bland DVD covert art. I take my hat off to Griffin’s relatively sensitive presentation of his lone gay character, and the fact that we get some boy-on-boy action that’s considerably steamier than Dufault and Nicklin’s relentlessly unsexy lip locks.
I even appreciate the fact that it’s a send-up of the Christian scare films of the 70s and 80s, and that Carmine Capobianco’s no-nonsense, mack daddy exorcist cameo is pretty much the best thing in the film. Too bad it doesn’t come until well past the 1-hour mark.
Trust me, I was giving it every chance I could. I saw how it could have been charming to some. I just didn’t like it very much. Because in spite of all their combined efforts, the end result feels like a cheap, half-baked, homemade sitcom that I’m sure plays like gangbusters in the Griffin rec room, but doesn’t really have a place on a major distributor’s spreadsheet.
|"Cold, man. Just cold."|
However, in the spirit of fair play, I present some remarks from other scribes who found it more to their liking:
“…a modern classic that shows how talented Richard Griffin and company really are...” Mac Brewer, Horror Society
“Deserves to be seen by as many people as possible...” James Dooley, Examiner
“A wonderful homage to the grand old age of horror...” Andy Boylan, Taliesin Meets The Vampires
“A gruesome grand-slam!” Dan Wilder, Famous Monsters of Filmland
“This is one damn enjoyable piece of work!” Robert Barry Francos, Indie Horror Films
Not sure what they were smoking, but I wish they’d share some with me. On second thought, no, no, I don’t. Because the day when I start calling backyard blarney like this “a modern classic” is the day I close up shop. But hey, they got their name on the box, so mission accomplished. (And now I know whose opinions not to trust in the future.)
|"See, they like us, they really like us! What's your problem, AC?"|
Supplements-wise, there are two, count ’em, TWO commentary tracks (Griffin with screenwriter Michael Varrati on one, and onscreen paramours Nicklin and Dufault for the other), plus the short film They Stole the Pope’s Blood! You guys have fun with that.
|Just stare at this poster for 81 minutes instead. You'll thank me later.|
The Sins of Dracula is available now from MVD Entertainment and can be ordered HERE.