"Dawn of Dracula"
Written by: Blake Powell & Marlena Midnite
Directed by: Blake Powell
Marlena Midnite-Victoria VanHelsing
Robyn Graves-Patricia Pennyweather
Growing up in the Mid-west, my love of horror films started with "Superhost", a clown faced Superman who introduced vintage Hammer, Amicus, and AIP horror films on WUAB 43 out of Cleveland. As far as "horror hosts" go, he was the only one I watched with any regularity. Then, a few years back, by the magic of social media, I was introduced to "Midnite Mausoleum" streaming on the internet. I spent many nights watching Marlena, Robyn, Grimms, and the gang doing their (very entertaining and charming) thing whilst screening the fright films of dubious quality that we all love. Later on, I met the ladies and Blake at a few horror cons, and actually got to review a few of their brilliant DVD releases (including the superior "Euro-sleaze" volume--pick this up!). So, you can imagine my dismay when I heard a few months back that the mausoleum door was closing for good!
However...with the news that the whole crew was hard at work lensing an homage to classic 70's flicks called "Dawn of Dracula", I was soon smiling again with anticipation of seeing the finished product.
Thanks to the most awesome Mr. Powell, I was able to see a pre-release stream last weekend! Set in 1977, the film centers around Victoria VanHelsing an intrepid investigator (with a penchant for jam donuts) and her young partner, Patricia Pennyweather on the trail of a group of occultists called the Black Dawn who are bent on resurrecting the titular Count. Along the way they encounter: cowboys, henchmen, a punk band called "the Fascist Tea Party" and various hijinks.
The film contains everything you'd expect from the Midnite Mausoleum gang. There's corny humor, plenty of "in-jokes", references to beloved sci-fi and horror from the 70's, the gorgeous Marlena & Robyn and cameos (along with an assist on the soundtrack) by frequent co-conspirators, Michigan maniac Tom Berdinski and friends! Shot and costumed with an amazingly cool 70's vibe, the film keeps a frantic pace with the ladies' adventures leading to a bit of a shocker/twist ending. I'll admit, I was skeptical, thinking this would play out like an extended MM episode, but I was very surprised--this is an entertaining, vibrant, little slice of cheese! The plot turns keep you guessing, the story keeps you engaged, the humor keeps you laughing, and the lush, perfectly done sets and exteriors are a feast for the eyes (and kudos for the vintage 70's "King Kong" poster!).
Bottom line, while I wanted Midnite Mausoleum to go on forever, "Dawn of Dracula" is a fitting swan song, and hopefully, the first of many projects to come from Blake, Marlena & Robyn--I miss 'em already!
Check it out and buy a copy as soon as it comes out!!