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TCM Overload: ‘Dracula’s Dog’ (1978)

October was a busy month for me, both as a writer and outside of the written realm. Constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I ultimately fell behind on my planned horror-watching, including everything I had recorded off of TV. If anything ran itself as ragged as I did in the build-up to Halloween, it was our family DVR. Turner Classic Movies was the cause of most of this wonderful strife, resulting in 100+ hours of horror movie recordings piling up on our set. Now it’s time to finally dive into those titles. Behold and tremble, as TCM Overload is born…

draculasdogDracula’s Dog (1978)

Directed by Albert Band
Produced by Philip Collins
Screenplay by Frank Ray Perilli
Based on the novel “Hounds of Dracula” by Ken Johnson
Starring Michael Pataki, Jose Ferrer, and Reggie Nalder
aka Zoltan, Hound of Dracula

“Zoltan! ZOLLLTAAANNN!”

If anything sticks with me permanently in the long run when it comes to the subject of Albert Band’s Dracula’s Dog, it will be Reggie Nalder’s weird psychic pleadings with the titular vampire canine. What a goddamn odd film. Were it not so languid and uneventful, I’d probably outright love its ridiculous nature.

The film opens with a long-forgotten tomb being unearthed in Russia. Naturally nothing good comes of this, especially when a worker wanders off into a section by himself and accidentally revives a vampire dog. After dispatching the worker, the dog sets about reviving Veidt Smit (Reggie Nalder), an undead servant of their mutual master, Dracula. The diabolical duo then set out to America to track down the last living Dracula descendant (Michael Pataki) so that he may be turned and have the Count’s essence transferred into him. Naturally there is an Old World expert (Jose Ferrer) hot on their heels intent on stopping them.

Sound crazy? Of course it does. It also feels exactly like the kind of Dracula spin-off that Hammer might have tried to construct after 1974’s The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, had the series lasted beyond it. Unfortunately, unlike Hammer’s latter day vampire romps, Dracula’s Dog is a snooze. You know you’re in trouble when Reggie Nalder (Mark of the Devil, Salem’s Lot) in villain mode can’t save your horror film. I can’t speak to the quality of its source novel, but this was a waste of an interesting (albeit wacky) premise.

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