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Sins Of Dracula, The

The History Channel // Unrated // March 24, 2015
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeremy Biltz | posted April 12, 2015 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
Vampires are a perennial subject for horror filmmakers, and that bloody fellow Dracula holds a special place in many people's hearts. So, what better subject to build a satire around Christian sexual ethics (and especially Christian scare films) and also community theater people? While this doesn't seem like a natural fit, it sort of works in Richard Griffin's Sins of Dracula, though this film isn't as enjoyable as some of his previous work.

Billy (Jamie Dufault) is a devout Christian, who sings in the church choir and loves the Lord, but he longs for something else. He wants to express himself. His girlfriend Shannon (horror veteran Sarah Nicklin), who is not devout in the least, encourages him to join her in her community theater troupe, led by the flamboyant director Lou Perdition (Steven O'Broin). Billy is a very sheltered lad, and doesn't know at first how to deal with nerdy gamer Traci (Samantha Acampora), or constantly high Bandilli (Derek Laurendeau), or proto-hipster New Wave (Jesse Dufault), or especially Lance (Aaron Peaslee), who is out as gay. The theater folks don't give him too hard of a time, though. It's a regular after school special of acceptance and understanding.

But Perdition has darker plans than his idea to stage a musical about the Jim Jones massacre. He's in league with a certain undead Transylvanian nobleman with whose help he is going to take over the world. He just needs the blood of a few sinners, and an army of the undead. Naturally, the best place to get started is in the theater community of a small New England town.

Let's get right down to it. There's a lot of good stuff in Sins of Dracula, but there's also a lot of stuff that doesn't work. At all. Some good first. The cast is great. Nicklin and Jamie Dufault have good chemistry, and both give good performances, if a bit over the top. But this films calls for a little broadness in the performances. Everyone else is good too. O'Broin is perhaps a little too bombastic. Okay, he's downright cartoonish in his performance, but that's not a deal breaker. The film isn't intended to be scary, but nevertheless there are some atmospheric moments. The scene where Bandilli explores the bowels of the theater, and makes a rather grisly discovery, is one such.

However, the film is supposed to be funny. It's a satire, in particular of Christian scare movies, which intend to frighten their viewers on to the path of righteousness, much like those faux haunted houses that pop around Halloween. And it's not that Sins of Dracula isn't funny, it's that it's not funny enough. Griffin and Michael Varrati (the writer) should have gone for the jugular and been much more arch in their humor, both regarding Christians and theater people. Griffin didn't seem to have this problem in his previous films Nun of That or The Disco Exorcist, both also starring Nicklin. But in this film, it's as if the jokes miss by just a hair, or are glancing blows at best. Regardless, there is some good stuff here. Billy's monologue where he essentially convinces himself to go ahead and sleep with Shannon is great. Also, the exorcism scene with the hapless parents is fun, and the running joke of New Wave's painted on sideburns always growing larger. And there are other enjoyable bits as well, just not enough of them. I have mutual friends with some of the folks who worked on Sins of Dracula, and I've enjoyed the previous work of Griffin etal, so I really wanted to like it. And I did. But only somewhat. Rent it.


The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and as usual with Griffin's films looks pretty good. The colors pop and the image is crisp. It's obviously a low budget film, but one crafted with care and style.

The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and nothing special, but there aren't any issues either. The dialogue is always clear, and no hiss or other problem can be heard.

There are a number of extras included. They are:

They Stole the Pope's Blood
A short film about someone stealing Pope John Paul's blood. It's actually more an extended fake trailer, and is much more like the kind of movie I'd hoped Sins of Dracula would be. It's fun, sharp and humorous.

Writer / Director Commentary
Richard Griffin and Michael Varrati talk about the origins of the story, the look of the film (identifiably 80s without being garish), behind the scenes anecdotes and the fact that Griffin made a conscious choice to stop playing D&D so that he could get laid. This is enjoyable.

Sarah Nicklin / Jamie Dufault Commentary
This actually includes Griffin and Varrati as well, but is focused mostly on the two actors. This is Nicklin's eighth movie with Griffin. They discuss the singing (Jamie's brother Jesse dubbed his voice), their approach to the characters, and the mechanics of planning a sex scene. Also interesting.

There is also an Easter egg in the special features menu. It's several minutes of Jamie Dufault ad libbing filthier and filthier sex talk while filming his love scene with Nicklin.

Final Thoughts:
Sins of Dracula is not an awful movie. There's a lot of fun stuff here, especially Sarah Nicklin and Jamie Dufault. There are laughs and a dash of creepiness. But it's not as good as it could have been. A lot of the jokes fall flat, and the satire isn't as keen as it should have been. I've enjoyed Griffin's work before, and I'm sure I will again, but this was not his best. Still, it's worth a look.

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