Christopher Lee’s stilted, irritable confusion with Jesús Franco’s cheapjack prestige sleep-aid oozes off the screen in Portabella’s wry and restless cinema-interrogation, and is even played for laughs a few times over the course of the film. But, as Mina Harker or any Spaniard who lived through the second half of the twentieth century could tell you, there’s nothing funny about an imperious, impatient monster with nasty appetites and an entitled sense of destiny. Best Dracula movie ever.
Eurotrash hedonic-treadmill burnouts and bridge-and-tunnel art strivers invoking Warhol, ’50s flying-saucer flicks, and primetime soaps on some rando Midtown rooftop is in my sweet spot, even if the second-most radical thing about this — the first being an offhanded engagement with gender drift that’s jarringly ahead of its time — is how thoroughly it wears out its welcome. Worth the slog for Carlisle and Doukas in general, and for Margaret’s Day-Glo monologue near the end in particular; it’s up there with Jane Asher’s climactic swimming-pool freakout in Deep End.
Most effective as a subverted Disney princess movie: The male dreamboat turns up too late to do much good, and doesn't even take measures to keep his beloved from choking on her own spit-up; the cute animal sidekick considers said spit-up a meal; the villain can't wait to make a meal out of our heroine; she buys him lunch.
Least effective as a scary shark movie: The CGI monster is too weightless to be menacing, and it's grumpy and vindictive…
The title’s practically meaningless, a lure to get inveterate horror fans to sit still for a movie that pivots on loss, lies, attachment fear, bloodthirsty patriarchal ineptitude, and a pair of fatal acts of kindness. Horror is what we do to each other, kids.
I have no problem with this approach, especially in a film that uses interior space and light so beautifully and that wields dread-for-the-sake-of-dread with such expertise. I had low expectations going into this, all of them were exceeded.