Dracula Ought to Be Weird: Lust for Dracula
by Travis Hedge Coke
When someone finally asks, “I have been patient with you. Why?” it is a question for all of us.
I understand convincing you is going to be hard, but Lust for Dracula gives me absolute dread. Tony Marsiglia’s 2004 movie, starring Erin Brown as Mina Harker and Darian Caine as Dracula freaks me out.
Shot in five days, lust for Dracula is ostensibly more Erotica then horror, but it is not simply unsexy, it is anti-sexy. Lust for Dracula scares the crap out of me. Filled with rape, trauma, druggings, mental illness, manipulation, gaslighting, abuse, loneliness, self-loathing, systemic brutality, and a surreal-to-intimacy stillness, the movie strikes me as being as antagonistic to a presumed audience as Michael Haneke’s Funny Games.
Or, at least I would assume this, had I not firsthand confirmation that this presumed audience absolutely found and eroticism which I do not believe is genuinely there. They find some of the rapes and the vulnerability and loneliness and terror and shame, hot.
One reviewer on IMDb refers to one of the “freakiest attempted rapes to ever grace celluloid,” while also referring to “a deliriously erotic atmosphere.”
I don’t understand people.
Ultimately, Lust for Dracula, is about wanting Dracula, and concocting a Dracula to want. How much of the movie is an immature mind developing scenarios and layering on po-faced intellectualism to cope and survive is unanswerable, but with enough fuel, you can dig a rabbit hole through to the other end of the Earth.
It is not only that I find the movie upsetting, or that I knows there is an audience who find attempted or accomplished rape sexy, women on the verge of or beyond breakdown, erotic, I do not know how anyone comes out of this movie.
Julian Wells plays Jonathan Harker. As Mina’s controlling husband, Wells executes every move and droning sound of a look-what-you-made-me-do abusive partner too well. It is a human and mean performance which breaks the rotary-phone tone of much of the other portrayals.
No one looks like they are having any fun and everyone looks directed all the time.
Construction. Oceans. Graveyard. Cruelties and struggles go on as long as sex. Everyone taunts, everyone teases, likely because they have no truth to impart.
Everyone acts like a teenager because to teenager this could seem meaningful, and not just sad and self-destructive.
The blurring of gender is childish, but it is a child doing the blurring.
When Jonathan Harker rapes Mina, angered that Mina does not fall pregnant, it is husband, mother, sister. Family, from parent to spouse to sibling to neighbor blur unconscionably.
Gender, sex, viability, fertility, reality, cognizance, desperation, family, professionalism, and maturity are blurred by a tense, uncompromising, impossible absentia. Rather than sex, everyone has prolonged sex-anxieties. The bad masturbation of 2001’s Mulholland Drive is distended into overlong play-acted sexuality, though a principle difference is that Laura Harring’s Rita seems genuinely, at times, cool, and Darian Caine plays Dracula as a kid trying to impress, another teen trying to be cool in front of a teen.
It was over 100° in close quarters, when Erin Brown plays her most exasperated and deluded scenes.
Darian Caine, who plays most of her scenes naked, wore her own personal fangs.
Both of them have their own tattoos on display in character-defining moments.
The more porny a camera angle as Brown or another actor u dresses bloodily, crawls across a restroom floor, performs ritual acts while appearing invisible in mirrors, the less sexy or appealing any of it feels. This is unfriendly nudity. Play-acting cold sex. Cruel reproductions of intimacy without care, full of callouses.
“Get dressed,” Mina is told early on. “We have work to do.”
It is all work. And, frightened survival.
Are these women and men or all sexless or nonbinary beings. Sisters is something cosmic, charnel, and septic?
Cruel, unpleasant, all-consuming jealousies.
A prolonged masturbatory striptease by two sisters is so manically performed, so pro for a balletic cold and self-conscious it is difficult to recollect these are seasoned erotic performers playing roles. The leering camera shoved up their crotches as finless music drones following screeching nails on chalkboard and mumbled lines, slowly becoming,es frowns and murmurs but it elicits only boredom, pity, a desire to ourselves in the audience chase something more.
Congratulations horror film for making us so immediately bored of sex and tired of titillation angles and prying objectification. As they, denuded, grope themselves, we feel terrible for them and weary of this life. Their orgasms are unconvincing and painful. Why must they live these lies?
Screech on chalkboard returns. Screeeeeeeeech.
Mina lives a lie, a loveless frustration of normative suburbanity with her spouse and soulless days and confusing nights.
Ugly embittered nonsense into which investigators and vampires can come freely, inexplicably, and have to be ignored.
No one is having a good time.
Horror movie angles, constant pill popping, panicked frantic editing and disappointed sex make the eroticism a lie even if the tedious performance of masturbation did not. Mina smiling and singing to a stuffed toy, crying in private, crying throughout a rape, unable to acknowledge Dracula even as she declares someone will not take her soul or tells a children’s story of how bat courage can save little Batbat.
These are the fantasies or optimism of a hurt youth. It is sadder if the movie has no real lesson to impart, no wisdom. If the yearning and pain is incidental or accidental. As Dracula hears happiness creep into Mina’s voice and smiles, I hope this is not only incident upon incident.
I hope the bat, a real bat who bites and flies away, makes sounds like rewinding videotape for reasons. The real bat is a fake bat is a child is a corn husk doll. I make those reasons.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m cleaning your pool.”
Dracula does not clean the swimming pool physically. But there is no physical Dracula. Or, physical Mina. Physical anything. We are watching a movie.
Caine’s Dracula is deadpan, mechanical, shy. She overacts exactly like a shy kid. She eats a frog. She hangs out naked and refuses to look at Mina if Mina can see her, she just says shit. Drinking blood like a teenager pouring down beer and trying to look cool.
That David Lynch casts a shadow is unavoidable, but he throws a spotlight, too.
This is porno and music videos. Embarrassed romanticism of kids. Making out in a pool which until recently had no water. Self-conscious. Un-self-aware.
We can seek meaning in Dracula’s ankh tattoo, but it is Darian Caines, like the fangs are. Her sweet kisses, mechanistic, cinematic onanistic, as overlong as the most extended pointlessly pointed scene, intimacy calculated by how long one waits to remove their partners panties.
The sad weird editing and where-the-spirit-takes-us cinematography of Jesus Franco and Andy Warhol.
You want these lonely dopey kids to make it. But make it into what?
An immature idea of vampires, of both sex in daylight graveyards and symbolic suicides implying growth.
Dressing. Undressing. Dressing. Tedious movement replicated by movement imitated by movement. In a museum setting this would be warholia ad nauseam. This is not meant for museum or even group perusal.
You are supposed to be locked in with these people, these feelings, this tedium. A Saturn on of hair pulling and fake wisdom as fake orgasm, pretending we do it see modesty belts or microphone parts.
Everyone’s clothes are slightly too big, nothing fits and everyone looks like dress up.
There is nothing nice about people destroying their lives and rubbing each other.