Director: Albert Band
Starring: Michael Pataki, Jan Shutan, Libby Chase, John Levin, Reggie Nalder, Cleo Harrington
This review by Slayerrr666 – all part of my 31 Days of Horror.
Unearthed in a tomb in Romania, Veidt Smith, (Reggie Nalder) a half-man/half-vampire servant to Count Dracula, and Zoltan, Dracula’s dog, are resurrected and find themselves the last remnants of the family. Discovering that the last remaining member is Michael Drake, (Michael Pataki) a surgeon living in California with his wife Marla, (Jan Shutan) and kids Linda, (Libby Chase) and Steve, (John Levin) they travel to America to find them. Uncovering their plans, the Romanian government sends Inspector Branco, (Jose Ferrer) to stop the pair but all three discover the family is out on a vacation in the woods. Catching up with them on their trip, Branco and Michael take on the vampiric family to avoid becoming the next victims in a long list of corpses left in their wake.
The Good News: Of course the real star of the show here would only be the titular Zoltan himself. Fitted out with glowing eyes and ludicrously over-sized fangs, the dog often looks amusingly nonplussed with what is meant to be going on around him. He is certainly one multi-talented dog, however, as he drags heavy looking coffins out of crypts, removes stakes with his teeth and provides several other highly impressive stunts that come off as very well done and give it a certain amount of menace. It’s no surprise that the best moments involve the dog. One minor plot point really makes it watchable and saves the film. During the initial dog/Dracula flashback, our title hound snacks on a random puppy. The poor pooch is found and, since his undead status is unclear, he gets buried. As the ground moves and the infant German Shepherd squeals it’s way through the background, we get the classic scene from the time-honored monster movie tradition of the creature crawling out of the dirt. Naturally, it’s a tiny little bundle of oatmeal-scented love, and it’s absolutely hilarious. It adds to the cheesiness of the movie, as does a later scene, after the carnage is completed and all seems right with the world. We are treated to a return of the vampire puppy, and his closing shot a full close-up of jagged teeth, eyes glow with demonic glee and a Hell-spawned snarl, is another certified scene-stealer. It’s aces and is quite cheesy. The house-siege scenes do have some quite tense moments, as the ethereal howling from the dogs in the background and their frantic assaults to get in anywhere they can in the house, come as close to horror as this film gets, and the several attacks do build up the tension quite nicely. There is one really excellent blood-letting scene, where a fisherman is savagely mauled by the dogs, and the bloody remains are given quite a nice look after-the-fact. But otherwise, this was just a giant cheese-fest.
The Bad News: This here is quite simple. It all depends on how much the plot points stack up in the cheese stakes. There’s quite simply too many to name, from the inherent stupidity of the soldiers early on who discover the corpses, to the reanimated corpses who spend the majority of the time simply staring at others, while the servant gazes at the dog who hypnotically stares at the other dogs in the area. The ludicrous situation that the film comes to, which has the dog army invade a small barricade set-up to stop them, to the events that proceeded them, are just plain cheesy, and there’s no getting around them. The amount of cheese that can be absorbed from a film will be about equal to how much you can find wrong with this one, as it’s the only factor that really seems off in this one, but it’s still a major one.
The Final Verdict: Full of cheese, this would fit right in with the 80s with it’s tone and style, and for the right kind of person, this can be a really pleasant guilty pleasure. It’s not that terrible, but it’s still immensely cheesy film that will not really appeal to those outside of that mind-frame, so take heed with this one.