Director: Joe DeMuro
Release date: 2015
If we class Tales of Dracula as a fan film – which it most assuredly is, given that the film has clearly been created with a fan's touch – then it isn't a bad effort. If we view it through the same critical lens we'd reserve for more professional fare then perhaps it struggles a tad. But with an estimated budget of $ 20,000 they have managed to pull off more than one would expect.
The film harks back to the Universal pictures of yore and there are plenty of references for the fans. The use of black and white probably hides some issues, the physical effects can be surprisingly good and whilst the cgi is obvious it is better than some.
|tales of the smoking cross|
The film starts with a voiceover by Von Helsing (Mickey Ray) who relays how he was called to England to help a family plagued by Dracula (Wayne W. Johnson). We see a ship, the Chamberlain, sailing. Dracula is racing home but concurrently, in Transylvania, one Father Boris (Jay Novelli) is trying to destroy the last of Dracula's brides – Ingrid (Laura Brink). We see a cross pressed to her head and it begins to smoke. With her driven back to her coffin her father, Fritz (Doug Hess), stakes her.
On board the Chamberlain, Dracula feels her death. A storm begins to lash the ship (and stock footage is added of sailors in peril) and Dracula flies as a bat back to Transylvania. It is here we start getting the cgi, indeed bats, manbats and the castle are done in cgi and whilst it looks pretty cool it is too graphic (and not dirty/organic enough) to actually fit in seamlessly. Dracula crushes a cross in hand as he despatches the hunters.
|Daniel and Creighton|
Ilona (Greta Volkova) is off in her riding hood to make deliveries. She is told by her dad, Daniel (David Merrell), to be careful and to meet him at the tavern before nightfall. After she leaves a stranger approaches the house. He introduces himself as Creighton Reed (Tom Delillo). A few points here. Creighton, for those who don't know, was the actual forename of Lon Chaney Jr. Belillo carried an air about him that was reminiscent of that surrounding Chaney when he played Larry Talbot. It will come as no shock then to discover that Reed is our wolfman in this. Whilst this worked I did feel that for these two characters, for some reason, the costuming felt just too modern – especially given the costuming used by the other characters. There wasn't anything definitive, it just niggled that way.
|Wayne W. Johnson as Dracula|
Reed is en route to Peter Frankenstein's home (looking for a lycanthropy cure). Daniel suggests he go to the tavern as he will not get to Chateau Frankenstein before dark. Out in the woods Ilona stumbles across a body, bolts, falls and knocks herself out. Reed does go to the inn (innkeeper Anton (Dwight Kemper) is drawn as a comedy character) and checks his moon chart – the night is clear, it is the next night that we are to have a full moon. Daniel, of course, becomes worried when Ilona doesn't show and we see her approached by Dracula.
The next day they find her semi-conscious body and she is taken to Frankenstein. Frankenstein is not there, however, but his daughter Victoria (Courtney Bennett) is. She is less concerned about Ilona than she is the monster (Joe DeMuro), which is in her lab. However when she realises that Ilona is a vampire victim she draws off some tainted blood to inject into the monster and make him invulnerable. Ilona dies, Dracula realises that his blood has been given to the monster (and is not best pleased) and, of course, it is a full moon that night…
One thing the film got very wrong was time. The action takes over a couple of days but it felt wrong. Ilona must have been buried with great haste as that happens before the moon rise. This is possible I suppose but Von Helsing (travelling towards Transylvania) also manages to get a letter, about events so far, before the moon rise and that timing was just off and jarred. The acting varied, some of it seemed a little amateur and some of the dialogue seemed a little stilted in of itself. The physical effects, as mentioned, were quite good – I was most impressed with the look of the monster and the wolfman given the indie nature of the production.
|enter the bride|
The story itself just seemed to end with little conclusion, and it wasn't particularly satisfying but I could see that it was meant to feed straight into a second film. The nods to monster movies of yore were fun and the fact that they managed to pull this off on so little a budget (despite some issues) is to be praised. All in all I think 5.5 out of 10 is fair for this.