|Index||7 reviews in total|
10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Eerie documentary on the filming of Jess Franco's Dracula, 10 January 2002
This is an avant-garde experimental documentary about the filming of Jess Franco's Count Dracula. There is no dialogue, only an atmospheric background score and sound effects (except for at the end, when Christopher Lee reads an excerpt from Bram Stoker's novel). The movie is hard to describe; it shows footage of scenes from Count Dracula being filmed, the actors preparing, special effects, and so forth. It is the only footage of Soledad Miranda as the person she was in real life. In one of the film's most magical moments, director Portabella captures the filming of Lucy's staking, including the precious preparatory moments of Soledad's stage makeup being applied and Jack Taylor (who plays the role of Quincy Morris) gathering her up in his arms and placing her inside her casket. Other memorable moments are Christopher Lee goofing off, Soledad smoking in bed while a shot is prepared, and Soledad and Maria Rohm each flirting with the camera at various points. There is some confusion about how the title is written. I have seen it referred to as Vampir-Cuadecuc, Vampyr/Cuadecuc, Cuadecuc-Vampir, and Cuadecuc (Vampir). The actual on screen title is Cuadecuc, with Vampir in smaller letters below. Therefore, I refer to it here as Cuadecuc/Vampir.
8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
surreal behind the scenes glimpse of a horror movie set, 15 December 2002
Author: Ted Newsom from Burbank, California
Noted Catalonia surrealist Pedro Portobella shot this short subject on the
set of Jess Franco's EL CONDE DRACULA.
I think there are a lot of things going for it: non-linear approach, uncomfortably dissassociative sound track, surreal juxtaposition of unexpected images, etc. Anyone expecting a linear documentary will be disappointed, even angry. This is a stand-alone work of cinema art, not a monster movie.
I think it's far more interesting and unsettling than, let's say, the 4 minute behind-the-scenes promo shot for DRACULA 72 AD, though it has a lot in common with it superficially. Both the promotional short and the Portobella film are shot silent; the only sync dialogue is a bit of Christopher Lee speaking about Dracula. Both show the practicalities of film making, the crew and cast in an "unreal" setting with lights and cameras; both place the Victorian central character in an uncomfortable contemporary location. The major difference is intent. The promotional short, "Prince of Darkness," is intended to hype a movie. Portabella's film is a ghostly work of art.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Through a dream darkly, 25 October 2011
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
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.
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Impressive Documentary and Throwback, 26 February 2010
Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
Cuadecuc, vampir (1970)
*** (out of 4)
Extremely well-made avant-garde documentary is an experiment done at its very best. Director Portabella got onto the set of Jess Franco's 1970 film COUNT Dracula and filmed the majority of what he saw and turned it into this unique, behind the scenes look at the film. This isn't your typical documentary because the movie is silent for the majority of the running time and we never learn anything about the film being made. What this film is is a bunch of bizarre images set to some even more bizarre music and one doesn't need to be familiar with the Franco film to really enjoy what we have here. I think what makes this work so well is the fact that it has a lot more to do with the German Expressionism films from the 1920s. While watching the movie I couldn't help but think of films like NOSFERATU and THE GOLEM and had this thing seemed so close to them in terms of nature, mood and atmosphere. Those familiar with the Franco film are going to notice all the scenes here but they're shot differently here and they also have this wonderful look to go with them. One could debate how well Franco did with the novel but this movie here really becomes a bizarre, alternate version of the film. Another major plus is that we do get to see some of the actors outside their characters and this includes a couple good shots of Soledad Miranda who would die not too long after this movie was released. Apparently this is the only known footage of Miranda being herself that was captured on film. We also get to see Lee clowning around a little as he jumps towards the camera to attack it before getting ready for his shot inside the coffin. Herbert Lom and Jack Taylor are also seen in a few shots and we get one of Franco actually directing. The film runs 67-minutes and the only dialogue comes at the very end when Lee reads the death of Dracula to use from the novel. Before this is a fun sequence of him getting out of his costume and having to remove his teeth and a few other items. Portabella certainly has a great eye for style and atmosphere as this film is very impressive even in its short state. The movie hasn't ever seen a legit release as the director thought the movie too good to be included as an extra when the Franco film was released to DVD, which is a shame as it would be nice for more people to be able to see this work. Fans of the strange should certainly try to track this down as its certainly unique in its own way.
A Film About a Film About..., 15 February 2013
Author: cstotlar-1 from United States
This is truly a film/experience. There is no dialog until the very last
and this is in English followed by publicity for the original Franco
film in German. To complicate things even more the film was shot in
Spain and the title "Cuadecuc" is in Catalan! The sound track is pure
genius with little formal music - a part of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" -
with the other parts made by impressive sound effects and music derived
from them. We see clapboards and behind-the-scenes props everywhere as
well as the actors putting on make-up or relaxing after scenes. The
audience is in the film, beside it AND outside it in a matter of
Jess Franco goes Avant-Garde!, 18 July 2012
Author: morrison-dylan-fan from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Whilst recently reading down a list of rare,"left field" films,the
first title which instantly caught my attention was an Avant-Garde
documentary based around the making of Jess Franco's 1970 Count Dracula
movie.Despite having never seen a single Jess Franco film before,and
only knowing the basic outline to the Dracula novel,the mix of a behind
the scenes doc and Avant-Garde film making sounded like an
The outline to the documentary:
Documentary maker Pere Portabella shows the making of Jess Franco's 1970 Count Dracula movie,with the soundtrack almost completely replaced with a abrasive and ambient music,along with shooting the making of Franco's colour film entirely in black and white.
View on the documentary:
Replacing all of the wails and screaming with a low humming,abrasive proto-Post-Rock soundtrack scattered with the fading,natural sounds of drowning voices,director Pere Portabella, (who a few years later would help in writing the constitution of Spain) turns Franco's Horror into a fading dream.Portabella cleverly uses a number of different exposure styles to create multiple,rough surfaces of the documentary.Along with turning the "Scream Queens" in Franco's movie into beautiful Femme Fatale's, Portabella also bravely decides to turn the documentary into a political film, by using the soundtrack to "silence" the voices of the cast and crew,and also focusing on the poorly done special effects to show that Jess's Francisco Franco like- monster image of being powerful and frightening is in reality something fake which can be destroyed with a steak through the heart.
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
franco as Dracula, 1 April 2011
Author: martinflashback from United States
Director Portabello takes silent footage from the filming of Jess Franco's fourth-rate Dracula film and makes a multi-leveled masterpiece. The striking sound track consists of drills, scrapes, and finally, Christopher Lee reading the end of the Stoker novel. The electric buzzing is occasionally interrupted by snatches of pop songs and long periods of silence, which adds to mystery as tech and cameramen slide into view behind the stony, mute actors. Is this the imposed silence of awful Franco years? Portabello is Catalan, and the Catalan tongue was forbidden under the fascist regime. No speaking of Guernica, of the war, no criticism or free press. The master narrative of the appalling Franco dictatorship is interrupted by the disjointed tale of Portabello's paste-board castle and sleepwalking horror tropes. To re-edit the banal film (Franco's) and the evil, banal regime (Franco's) so that all its artifice may be displayed in the clear light (under the visible lights of the set). Fashionable girls laugh over a coffin holding a dead man, men walk through forests arranging cobwebs, Lee's imposing angular figure stares ahead, all granite. Deaf, too: they can't hear the flies. Lee and Portabello also made the equally sublime Umbracle, a similar tale of horror haunted by taxidermy, secret police, and Lee singing a song in French. This film shows that the continuum of the Gothic is still a potent vessel for art and politics. Portabello is a genius.
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