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Cuadecuc, vampir (1971)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Horror | 5 May 1972 (USA)
An analysis of the construction mechanism for the magic in dominant narrative cinema though the filming of Count Dracula, a commercial film by Jesús Franco.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself / Count Dracula (as Cristopher Lee)
...
Himself / Prof. Van Helsing
...
Herself / Lucy Westenra
...
Himself / Quincey Morris
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Storyline

Vampir-Cuadecuc is possibly a key film in understanding the transition in the Spanish film world from the period of the "new cinemas" (permitted by the Franco government) towards the illegal, clandestine or openly antagonistic practices against the Franco regime. It consists of shooting the filming of a commercial film Count Dracula by Jesús Franco. Portabella practices two types of violence on the standard narrative: he totally eliminates color and substitutes the soundtrack with a landscape of image-sound collisions by Carles Santos. Filmed provocatively in 16mm and with sound negative, the tensions between black and white favor the strange "fantasmatic materialism" of this revealing analysis of the construction mechanism for the magic in dominant narrative cinema, which at the same time constitutes a radical intervention in the Spanish cinematographic institution. Written by Pere Portabella - Films 59

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5 May 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vampir  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Cuadecuc" is Catalan for "worm tail", so the title translates as "Worm Tail, Vampire". See more »

Goofs

The opening credits say that Jesús Franco's Count Dracula (during the shooting of which this movie was filmed) was produced by Hammer Films, which was not. See more »

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Featured in Drácula Barcelona (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

Through a dream darkly
25 October 2011 | by See all my reviews

I was blessed last night with one of the most fulfilling experiences of my film life, a double-bill of this and an unknown film from '71 called 'Cuadecuc, Vampir'. Together they form one of the most powerful essays on cinema, this flickering replica of the real world, and so the mechanisms that control the makings of images around us and give rise to them. See both if you can.

I will preface this by saying that I am actively seeking out films about the making of films. In quick terms, they set in motion twin concentric cycles; projected outwards, we get to see how a reality that seems incoherent and meaningless is in fact powered around creative forces with clearly reflected purpose; and if we pull further back, how life - as this staged enactment before the camera - is only an illusion of the mind, a play of light and shadow that is animated because we are watching.

So with some effort we can shift the cycles around to align around the life that we know. I take much more from these than with a film that is simply emotionally powerful.

This is the most purely abstract of those films that I have seen. One side of the mirror, the stage, the illusion, is supplied by a Dracula film that Jess Franco was shooting in Spain in 1970. The other side is the camera, the artificial eye shaping the film that we are watching, in theory a documentary shot in and around Franco's set and which diffuses that film through the dreamlike haze of Vampyr.

Both films inverse from Dracula, Dreyer's by having the Jonathan Harker character venture into the monster's den to investigate an illusion but which he is creating himself, this one by pushing back the Dracula film, quite literally, and recasting ourselves in the role of the investigator. The monster's den is the actual film within.

But Dreyer's film mattered to me deeply because it was structured around a powerful notion; a man who asserts control over a world of increasingly sinister but incomprehensible events by imagining it is what he wanted to investigate. He shapes this into the horror film that we are watching. It was the stuff that we have used to dream up horror since early times.

Now look what the filmmaker does here, it's one of the most powerful reverse reversals that I've encountered anywhere in film; he conjures a nightmare from fragments of the other - there is no dialogue, and only a rough sketch of moments from the Dracula story- but which is embedded with the makings of both nightmares. It is plainly revealed this way, because we'd be hard pressed to identify the material without prior knowledge or a clue from the title, that it's the eye creating the nightmare we see - and have confused since early times as belonging to the world at large. The background stage is nondescript life, it might have been Forrest Gump.

The unforeseen encounter with evil of some purity that we find in Dracula, and is imagined in Vampyr, here is directly transferred to the eye, an evil eye where the formations of fear and illusion begin. It is horror because of the specific way that we are looking at the thing. Like the investigator in Vampyr, the annotation is all ours but here even more direct.

The effect is doubly eerie because it's a dangerous flow we are setting in motion, heads may roll. But all of a sudden Christopher Lee breaks character, playfully lunges towards the camera, smiles, then settles down in his coffin. We see production assistants weave cobwebs around him.

And a shot that I will keep with me as one of the most eloquent; a scene is playing out in some dark catacomb dimly lit from somewhere, inscrutable Gothic stuff, and our camera slowly turns to reveal far in the background the other, a film crew observing together, giant movie lights peering all around. It's a perfect in-sight; the retina of the mind's eye, to quote Videodrome, casting its light inwards on the fleeting illusion it has staged.

The result is horror in the most purely abstract sense, a disquieting dream of shapeless anxieties as they bubble to us from some far surface. Horror because the camera is filming.


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