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Doctor Dracula
Svengali / Lucifer's Women

USA 1981
produced by
Lou Sorkin, Sam Sherman, Edward H.Margolin (executive) for Rafael Film Associates, Independent International
directed by Al Adamson, Paul Aratow
starring John Carradine, Don 'Red' Barry, Larry Hankin, Geoffrey Land, Susan McIver, Regina Carrol, Jane Brunel-Cohen, Norman Pierce, Philip Toubus (= Paul Thomas), Tweed Morris, Emiliy Smith (= Clair Dia), Vic Kirk, Robert W. Carr, Michael Renner, Noel Welch, Susan Catherine, Kathy Spencer, Laurie Gross, Nike Zachmanoglou
screenplay by Paul Aratow, Cecil Brown, Gary Reathman, additional dialogue by Sam Sherman, technical advisor: Anton LaVey

Svengali

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Wainwright (Larry Hankin) is an extremely talented stage magician and hypnotist who is labelled the new Svengali by his fans - little do they know that he is actually possessed by the spirit of Svengali, and together with the publisher on his book on reincarnation Steven (Norman Pierce) and the mysterious Radcliff (John Carradine) runs some kind of coven that's supposed to make them immortal. For that though, they need a human sacrifice, which they think they have found in dancer Trilby (Jane Brunel-Cohen). It's easy for Svengali to pick up the girl, but then he actually falls in love with her, and it seems the personality of the true Doctor Wainwright comes to the fore. Eventually, Svengali pushes Trilby away in order not to hurther, but ...

Another narrative threat has Stephanie (Susan McIver) looking for closure after her mother's (Regina Carrol) mysterious murder, so she comes to Svengali to help her get in touch with mom, whichever way possible. However, she is soon whisked away by psychiatrist Gregorio (Jeffrey Land), a sometimes friend, sometimes arch-enemy of Svengali, who tells her Svengali is a fraud, and only he is the real deal. What Stephanie doesn't know of course is that Gregorio is really a vampire, and not only that, he has vampirized her mother and now keeps her as his undead companion, and now wants to do the same to her. When after meeting her undead mom Stephanie realizes what Gregorio is and has in mind for her, it's far too late, he already has her in her power.

At the rite at which Trilby is to be sacrificed, someone kills her prematurely, a vampire ... Gregorio of course, who has long regarded the coven with contempt, and by killing Trilby before her time, he has destroyed the chances of the members of becoming immortal - and consequently they all die on the spot. Gregorio himself doesn't far much better, as Stephanie blows up the car she and Gregorio are leaving the coven in.

Veteran cowboy actor Don 'Red' Barry plays Stephanie's father.

 

A total mess of a movie, this one has begun filming in 1975, directed by one Paul Aratow, but was presumably never finished. Eventually the material fell into the hands of producer Sam Sherman and director Al Adamson, who turned the skeletal material into one finished film - by adding material over the next few years, giving it a pretty nonsensical framing story and throwing in a whole bunch of new plot elements that don't make sense in correlation to the original story (which I might add was rather weak to begin with). The result is a weird mishmash that changes in mood and approach, full of subplots that lead nowhere and/or make no sense, carried by not one but two main narrative threads that have little in common and are rather silly and smplistic by themselves, and culminating in a ridiculous finale.

Granted, the film has some so bad it's good-qualities to it, but is rather tame compared to most of director Al Adamson's other cut-and-paste jobs.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD