Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Phillip Marshak - Lust At First Bite (1978)
At an exclusive sanitarium, strange things are happening: patients are acting differently and are being found with mysterious bite marks in their necks. Visiting professor, Van Helsing (Reggie Nalder) believes it to be the work of vampires. With the arrival of Count Dracula (Jamie Gillis), things get even stranger and more violent, as the diabolical count sets his sights on the beautiful Mina (Annette Haven). Acclaimed as the most star studded X rated film ever made, featuring supporting performances from Seka, Serena, Kay Parker, John Leslie, Paul Thomas, Mike Ranger and Bill Marigold, Dracula Sucks has finally been restored to its original directors cut. The shorter Lust At First Bite runs 74 minutes, and contains alternate footage different from the original version of the film. Several scenes are reordered and edited differently, Renfield is portrayed as a homosexual, the sex scenes are longer and more explicit, all blood and biting scenes are removed from the film and this version also contains an alternate ending.
The single most surprising thing about this ambitious and lavishly mounted X-rated take on Bram Stoker's popular tale of legendary vampire Count Dracula is that it works a lot better as a fairly faithful porn remake of the 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi than one might expect. Director Phillip Marshak offers a flavorsome evocation of the period setting, makes excellent use of an actual sprawling castle, and manages to generate a reasonable amount of spooky atmosphere. The sincere script by Darryl Marshak and David Kern for the most part treats the premise in a relatively serious manner, but still adds a welcome element of self-parodying humor. The bang-up cast of tip-top Golden Age adult cinema heavyweights helps a whole lot: A bearded Jamie Gillis portrays Dracula with great aplomb and assurance, a positively ravishing Annette Haven projects an achingly pure and fragile quality as the virginal Mina, and Serena simply sizzles as the brash Lucy, plus there are sound contributions from Paul Thomas as the effeminate and sexually frustrated Jonathan Harker, John Leslie as worried sanitarium supervisor Dr. Arthur Seward, Kay Parker as Arthur's loyal and concerned sister Dr. Sybil Seward, John Holmes as the lusty Dr. John Stoker, Seka as the sassy Nurse Betty Lawson and William Margold as sarcastic hipster asylum orderly Henry. Richard Bulik has a field day with his juicy role as the unhinged Renfield while Reggie Nalder keeps his dignity and exudes a properly authoritative presence as formidable vampire expert Van Helsing. Hanania Baer's pretty cinematography boasts several funky stylistic flourishes. Lionel Thomas's elegant score provides a real sense of class.