Devil Dog

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with such star power before. This is a real treat and I’m only being seventy-five percent sarcastic. Of course, I’m referring to the 1978 U.S./Italian coproduction of Zoltan Hound of Dracula. Duh.

I love this title so much. Even if the font looks like it’s shivering. Want a sweater, Zoltan Hound of Dracula? If I ever release a metal album this is going to be the font on the album cover.
This movie features three stars. First, there’s Reggie Nalder as Veidt Smith, Dracula’s groundskeeper and dog groomer. I guess. He spends most of his time in this movie making this face.

You remember him as Barlow from the t.v. miniseries of ‘Salem’s Lot.
Then there’s Michael Pataki. He plays the dual roles of Michael Drake and Count Dracula. Michael Drake is a mild-mannered psychiatrist, an idiot, floppy-hat aficionado, and Dracula’s last heir, despite the fact that he has two children.

Dracula went all out and got the deluxe costume from Party City. What does the sash mean? Did he win Little Miss Undead? The collar of his cape is so limp, it makes me sad.
You remember Michael Pataki as Professor Lockwood in Grave of the Vampire. He’s also been in three, count ’em, three MST3K episodes. He was in the KTMA episode Superdome, he was the psycho J.C. in Sidehackers, and he was Sheriff Character-Actor in It Lives by Night. I love when people have these huge MST3K resumes, it pleases me.
Finally, the biggest star in the movie is JosΓ© Ferrer. He plays Inspector Branco, the Van Helsing of the movie but he looks like Donald Sutherland as Merrick in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.

Which one is which? I’ll never tell!
Soldiers are blasting in some unspecified Soviet country, where there are no accents, stumble across a tomb. They leave the dumbest, weakest soldier stationed as a guard. Two coffins slide out and Private Idiot opens them. There’s a dog with a stake through its heart in one of them. Private Idiot takes the stake out and the dog reanimates and attacks him. Zoltan! Zoltan takes the stake out of the second body, causing the shroud to inflate. I had no clue that vampires were like balloons. This is Veidt Smith. Then there’s a flashback. I have no clue who’s flashing back, Zoltan I guess. Dimestore Dracule tries to attack a woman but the woman is saved by Zoltan. As vengeance, Dracula turns into a bat and turns Zoltan into a vampire dog. Zoltan gains the powers of immortality and glowing eyes. Dracula also turns Smith into his partial vampire servant, kind of like Renfield.
Major Hessel, who I guess is in charge of blowing up random things in the eastern bloc, calls Inspector Branco for help.

I know she's supposed to be Soviet but I'm getting some "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S." vibes from her.

She has what Michael K. would call a major eyebrow situation.
Inspector Branco looks through some books and deduces in about fifteen minutes that Smith and Zoltan have reanimated and are looking for Dracula’s heir to turn into their master. He also calls Smith a something “fractional lamia” which I misheard as something totally different. Sucio bitches. He also discovers the exact address of Dracula’s descendent, Michael Drake. This is before the internet.
In California, Michael Drake is planning for a camping trip with his family. Their dogs, Annie and Sampson just had puppies. They decide to bring the puppies along with them. Can I say that I hate this family something fierce? They are the most irresponsible dog owners ever. Their fully grown dogs are never on a leash and they just keep the puppies in a cardboard box. Then they leave them outside at the campground, where any predator can snatch them up. Predictably, one of the puppies scampers off. He’s the cutest little thing, he has a little white spot on the tip of his tail so I named him Mr. Spot. He runs right to the spot where Zoltan and Smith are camping in Smith’s not-at-all conspicuous hearse. Zoltan grabs the puppy and turns him into a tiny vampire puppy. Then Zoltan starts luring the dogs in the campground to him, including Annie and Sampson. He’s building an adorable vampire dog army!
The vampire dogs start terrorizing the Drake family but Papa Drake is damn determined to have fun family camping time. Plus, the kids are really upset about their lost dogs. Meanwhile, Zoltan and his dog minions are running amok in the campground and attack a hippy.
Inspector Branco finally catches up to the Drake family, after switching his fedora for a beret. Drake immediately accepts that he’s Dracula’s heir and sends his family away so him and Brnaco can hunt Zoltan and Smith. Branco gives Drake about five-minutes of slayer training before they hole up in a cabin. Zoltan and his army attack the cabin and there’s a scene that’s about twenty-minutes-long of dogs scratching at the cabin door and chewing on the roof. This isn’t nearly as entertaining as it seems. Zoltan finally rips out the electrical wire to the cabin.
A long time ago, I studied acting. One of the things I learned is that acting is all about the choices you make onstage or on film. So what the hell explains this acting choice?

Nice non-reaction, fellows. Zoltan is about to attack Drake and Branco but then the sun rises. Damn sun! I am strongly rooting for Zoltan and his dog minions in this movie because the humans are so unappealing. Plus, they’re so cute when they run around and their eyes glow.
There’s finally a big vampire dog showdown where Drake stakes Smith and then they stake Zoltan. I guess his minions die but, for some reason, the vampire puppy, Mr. Spot, survives. Go Mr. Spot!
Then he turns into a hand-puppet and his eyes glow threateningly.

This movie. I don’t mean to make this movie sound like more fun than it is. Literally, every minute without doggy hijinks is a waste of screen-time. Mostly, this movie suffers from poor characterization. Michael Drake’s wife is bland, the kids are annoying although not very present, and Drake himself is incompetent and stubborn. It’s really hard to enjoy a movie when you don’t like any of the characters. Well, I did like Branco, but only because he inadvertently reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Like Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus, this movie also recycled shots. A lot. Enough to make me nauseous at one point when there’d be a shot of nature, then a quick cut to Zoltan’s glowing eyes, to another shot of nature, and then a shot of Drake. This continued over about two minutes. Just because you can edit doesn’t mean you should. Anytime something was supposed to be suspenseful there’d be a shot of Zoltan’s eyes or Smith’s buttery teeth. Or a shot of Smith making the same disapproving face.
So if you decide to watch this movie, my advice is to fast forward through anything not involving puppies. Puppies! Here’s another picture of the vampire puppy just because.

About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1970's, vampires and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Devil Dog

  1. Thomas D. says:

    Call me corny and old-fashioned, but I’m a “Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell” kinda guy. I like that they put those evil eyes on a cute puppy that is just sitting there bored, which is somehow more evil (and more adorable) than a snarling rottweiler with satan-laser eyeballs. I think it has something to do with the “banality of evil”, or something.

    • scarina says:

      I like this movie anytime Michael Pataki isn’t involved. His character is just so unappealing. I didn’t even want to get into how Zoltan took one look at the cross nestled in Drake’s man-decolletage and decided to kill himself rather than endure anymore hairy oiliness.
      IMO, the vampire puppy is the best devil dog around. He could easily kick the butts of the hell-hounds from The Omen and Suspiria.
      Oh, and your reference to the banality of evil made me giggle-snort.

  2. Fear Street says:

    I love Mr. Spot. I’d love him even more if he didn’t possess the ability to drain me dry of my life’s blood….

  3. Amiee says:

    I swear my dog looks like Mr Spot in about 75% of photos with the glowing eyes. Vampire puppies does sound strangely adorable.

    • scarina says:

      Mine too. Mine’s a jack russell terrier, and those dogs really are devil dogs. He’d make a great dog-vampire.
      There’s a scene where Mr. Spot claws his way out of his grave, it’s terrifying and cute.

  4. Pingback: The Hearse | Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness

  5. Pingback: Bloody Birthday | Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness

  6. I REALLY need to see this!

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