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Dracula in Vegas
Filmmaker Nick Millard has had an interesting career. He started off making softcore skin flicks in the sixties and then made the switch to hardcore once the seventies rolled around. But once 1975 hit, he turned his back on smut and made a few horror films: Satan's Black Wedding and Criminally Insane being the two most popular. A few years later he'd churn out .357 Magnum and then take a break for a while… but once the eighties rolled around and camcorders became readily available, Nick made a comeback! Not only did he make a sequel to Criminally Insane (wisely bringing Priscilla Alden back) but he churned out the two Death Nurse films, Cemetery Sisters and a few others… including 1999's Dracula In Vegas, the last of his feature filmmaking efforts until 2003's The Turn Of The Screw.
Millard's shot on video epics were made very fast and very cheap. They almost always feature his mother (and future ‘granny' fetish porn star) Frances Millard (who also produced) in a large role, take place in Las Vegas and appear to be shot guerilla style without permits. This one is no exception.
As to the story itself? Max (Maximillian Grabinger) has been accepted to a few prestigious universities like Yale and Harvard but his dad tells him no way, you've got to go to college in Las Vegas. Why? Because Max and his family are all vampires and there are a lot of pretty young necks to bite in Vegas. Max's mom (the aforementioned Frances Millard) warns him not to date any girls older than fourteen because they're all whores and are infected with AIDS. So there's that. At any rate, before you know it Max has left Transylvania and landed in Vegas and made his way to the campus where he meets his roommate (who looks like he's in his mid-thirties). They exchange poorly worded pleasantries and then it's off to class (every class Max attends seems to be teaching a handful of students about Earnest Hemmingway… nothing but Earnest Hemmingway). Here he meets a pretty blonde coed named Christine (April Leigh) and they soon fall fast in love.
Of course, Max's parents aren't happy about his progress. Dad is upset because he's not biting enough pretty young necks and mom is upset because Max has a girlfriend who is probably an AIDS infected whore. So they hop a plane to Las Vegas to sort things out of him. Once they do, mom bones the roommate while dad pokes around town. Max, on the other hand, starts doing what vampires eventually do, taking out a hardcore feminist and turning her into his love slave and chowing down on a few other local cuties. Before it's all over, Max will become the most desired guy on campus, he takes a job polishing coffins, he makes friends with a bizarre mortician who is not what he seems and he'll visit his uncle Felonious on a porno movie shoot (wherein Millard gets to insert footage that we can safely assume is from one of his older skin flicks)… but while his relationship with Christine work or will his mom ruin everything? Oh, and he starts getting strange visits from his doppelganger, Igor (also played by Grabinger).
As goofy as goofy can be, Dracula In Vegas is clearly meant to be more of a comedy than a horror picture, thought there are moments where you get the impression that Millard is trying to at least sustain some sort of dark atmosphere (these infrequent scenes stand in stark contrast to the jokier tone of the rest of the movie). We don't get much in the way of gore, just some fake blood on the necks of the vampires' victims, nor do we get any nudity (though there are a pair of scantily clad ladies featured in the porno shoot clip and at one point Max's mom pulls down her top but wisely keeps her bra on) but there's enough trashy dialogue and wonky situations here to keep exploitation movie fans pleased. This one was shot cheap. Really, really cheap. The acting is stilted across the board, the plot is complete nonsense and the whole thing feels like Millard host it on his camcorder fast so that he wouldn't get booted off of the locations that he used (likely without permission).
At just over sixty-two minutes in length the movie is quickly paced. The jokes are frequently tasteless and mom's obsession with ‘AIDS infected whores' hasn't aged so well but Maximillian Grabinger is pretty likeable in the lead role. This movie is his only listed credit on the IMDB. Granted, he's not going to blow anyone's mind here but he handles the material quite well. As dopey as this is, it's pretty fun.The Blu-ray:
Dracula In Vegas was shot on VHS and so it looks like a VHS tape. Which is fine and all, just know that going in so you're aware ahead of time that it's going to look pretty lousy. That completely out of place and random inserts from one of the director's earlier porno movies was shot on film but was obviously then transferred to tape when spliced into this puppy. So with that said, the image here is only going to look so good. Expect it to be soft, expect colors to fade a bit, and expect detail to waver accordingly and hey, there are even a few tape rolls here and there. But overall the whole thing is perfectly watchable. There aren't any compression issues to note. The source used for the transfer was obviously in pretty good shape and the movie winds up looking about as good as you can realistically expect it to.Sound:
The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix is on par with the video transfer in that it's probably about as good as it's going to get. Some background hiss is present and levels occasionally shuffle around a bit but the fairly awesome score comes through loud and clear, so there's that. Generally the dialogue is pretty clear and there aren't any major problems here, but occasionally there are some bits that are tough to understand. Thankfully optional English subtitles are provided.Extras:
The extras start off with a commentary with Director Nick Millard, Producer Irmi Millard (who also plays the mother in the film) and Slasher // Video owner Jesus Terán. The audio quality here is less than perfect as you can hear the audio from the movie playing in the background as they watch it at almost the same level they were recorded at. Regardless, Nick talks about the locations, shooting much of the film at the University Of Nevada in Las Vegas, shooting the movie on the budget of $150,000.00 (which seems pretty high, to be honest), how some of the Vegas that we see in the movie is now gone, working with the different cast members and more. Slasher // Video has also put together an interview with director Nick and Irmi that runs eighteen minutes in length. This piece covers some of the same ground as the commentary track does but as the pair sits in front of a Christmas tree they also talk about Irmi's talents as a producer on low budget pictures, sightseeing in Las Vegas and checking out Bonnie and Clyde's ‘death car,' Maximillian Grabinger's acting abilities and the contributions of the rest of the cast, how Nick himself has a cameo in the movie as the professor and quite a bit more.
Aside from that, look for a still gallery, a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
Dracula In Vegas is not a good starting point for those new to the later ‘SOV' period of Nick Millard's career but for those already hooked? It's a fun watch. Yeah, the humor is awful, the acting is stilted and the whole thing looks and sounds like the micro-budget camcorder production that it is, but that's half the fun of a movie like this. Slasher // Video has presented it looking and sounding about as good as it realistically can and with a few decent extras documenting its history. If you're a fan of no-budget cinema and shot on video projects, consider this one recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.