Director: León Klimovsky

After the international success of WEREWOLF SHADWOW (aka WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN), Argentinean-born León Klimovsky became a horror specialist in Europe, but he didn’t return to the ever-popular subject of vampires until 1972 when he directed LA SAGA DE LOS DRACULA (“The Dracula Saga” or “The Saga of the Draculas,” aka DRACULA: THE BLOODLINE CONTINUES). Here, Klimovsky delivers what is one of the most unique and original Dracula films, spiked with humorous touches yet lavish in every department.

Starting off with a bang, the film begins with a dream sequence depicting a horrible human-sized bat creature menacing Berta (Tina Sáinz) in Castle Dracula. She wakes up from the nightmare, only to enter a real one. She and her pretty-boy husband (Tony Isbert, TRAGIC CEREMONY) travel to the castle, as she is a Dracula, and is pregnant with the family offspring. They are greeted by her grandfather the Count (Narcisco Ibanez-Menta), his wife (Helga Line), and two beautiful nieces (María Kosty and Cristina Suriani). Dracula wants Berta’s child to carry the family name since his line has been afflicted through inbreeding. This becomes all too obvious as the family’s future currently rests on a hideous boy who looks like a hairy, web-handed Cyclops.

(WARNING: SPOILERS HERE) Berta is driven insane during her stay; she kills her cheating husband, is left to deliver the baby herself, and sets out to finish the rest of the family after she catches on to their secret. With ax in hand, she slays them while asleep in their coffins, the Count being the last. He patiently stares at her, but on hearing the false news that the baby is dead, he makes no struggle and accepts the blow to his neck. Berta dies from previous wounds; her blood filled body falls on the baby. Still living, it absorbs the blood dripping onto his mouth. The Dracula bloodline continues!

The film is crammed with inventive and engaging elements. Dracula himself (played superbly by Ibanez-Menta) is a distinguished, gray-bearded aristocrat, not unlike Ferdy Mayne in THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967). For once, the Draculas are shown as deceptive poseurs; the Count hides the horribly inbred boy while proudly displaying the attractive members of his family, the female Draculas are by day assuming the role of cultured musicians, by night they are hungry for meaningless sex. Sex is also a main ingredient; breasts are exposed for a number of reasons, including a highly erotic scene where the two beautiful daughters seduce a cracked holy man (played by familiar Spanish character actor Luis Ciges) by opening their cloaks to reveal their nude bodies.

BCI presents THE DRACULA SAGA on DVD, mastered in High Definition from the original negative. The image looks great, with bold colors, excellent picture detail and no detectable dirt or debris on the print source. The film has been presented full frame (open matte), and even though it was intended to be matted at 1.85:1, framing and compositions never suffer too badly. For some reason, several sequences have a light web-like pattern on the screen, but this was obviously in the original negative and nothing at all too distracting to the viewer. The mono audio is presented in both English-dubbed and Spanish with optional English subtitles, and both tracks are strong and sufficient.

Extras on the disc include over four minutes of alternate “clothed” scenes (replacing some of the film’s assorted topless nudity), an international English language trailer (which is narrated by the Berta character) and the original Spanish title sequence. Trailers for other titles in BCI’s “Spanish Horror Collection” are included: BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL, HUMAN BEASTS, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB, THE LORELY’S GRASP and the forthcoming CURSE OF THE DEVIL. (George R. Reis)