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The Curse of Dracula
Cliffhangers: The Curse of Dracula

USA 1979
produced by
Kenneth Johnson, Richard Milton, Paul Samuelson for Universal/NBC
directed by Kenneth Johnson, Jeffrey Hayden, Richard Milton, Sutton Roley
starring Michael Nouri, Stephen Johnson, Carol Baxter, Antoinette Stella, Mark Montgomery, Bever-Leigh Banfield, Louise Sorel, Joanne Strauss
written by Myla Lichtman, based on characters created by Bram Stoker, music by Les Baxter, C.R. Cassey, Joseph Harnell, special effects by Wayne Rose

serial, TV-series
Dracula, Van Helsing, Cliffhangers

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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USA, the present day: Kurt Van Helsing (Stephen Johnson) and his companion Mary (Carol Baxter) are systematically destroying Dracula's (Michael Nouri) native soil-filled caskets to make it unable for him to stay in their city any longer, when Mary chances upon a university course on old European culture that's only held after dark ... and when she attends, she has to realize it's really held by Dracula ... and he's charmed by her, and invites her to one of his parties ... but what should have been a perfect opportunity for her and Van Helsing to destroy the vampire actually turns out to be a trap set for her, and Dracula manages to bite her for the first time (three bites make a vampire) and manages to get away with it ...

Now there is a reason Mary wants to kill Dracula, she believe he has killed her mother Amanda (Louise Sorel), but being bitten by the vampire seems to suddenly draw her to him ... and Van Helsing can do nothing to see her bitten a second time - but he finds a powerful ally in Mary's mom Amanda, who has never actually died but been turned into a vampire by Dracula years ago. Amanda, once his lover, now hates Dracula for what she's done to her, but desperately wants to save her daughter from becoming a vampire. But there's also Antoinette (Antoinette Stella), one of Dracula's students who's deeply in love with him and terribly jealous of Mary, so much so that she wants to see her dead.

Now Van Helsing and Amanda have to ward Antoinette off while seeing Mary falling under Dracula's spell more and more and more, so much so that she attacks Van Helsing - but ultimately, Amanda comes up with the remedy for Mary, she has to release a vampire from the curse of Dracula ... that vampire being herself of course - and Mary almost fails to stake her own mother (but can you blame her) and only manages to do so when Dracula threatens her life. Fearing that he could do something to Mary, the woman he loves, in rage, Dracula flees the scene, and finding the journals of Dracula, Van Helsing and Mary have little trouble to find the rest of his coffins and destroy them. Of course, Dracula can only be found in the last coffin, and Mary and Van Helsing only manage to track that one down by nightfall, so they of course have Dracula and Antoinette to fight ... but yeah, good prevails over evil in the end.

 

Curse of Dracula, along with The Secret Empire and Stop Susan Williams, was an attempt to present the serial format of yesteryear to television audience within the series Cliffhangers - but not too successful an attempt, because while many serial-elements are prevalent, like a reliance on action over character, simplified and slightly repetitive storylines and of course cliffhangers as such, it in many other ways lacks the sense of adventure of the best serials and instead treats the topic with the flatness of your typical TV series (though that's in line with quite a few serials from the 1950's too), lacking the actual sense of wonder of the format. Plus, this one relies much to heavily on romance, which might be in line with 1979's blockbuster Dracula by John Badham starring Frank Langella, but it doesn't do the source or the serial format much justice. In all, I'm afraid to say this is just a piece of forgettable TV - the intentions might have been good, but the execution certainly lacks in too many aspects.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

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