Dracula’s Widow, Iced, and Lady Frankenstein

Dracula’s Widow1988, US, 86m. Director: Christopher Coppola. Streaming: Tubi

Iced1989, US, 86m. Director: Jeff Kwitny. Streaming: YouTube

Lady Frankenstein 1971, Italy, 99m. Director: Mel Welles. Streaming: ScreamBox, Tubi

DRACULA’S WIDOW (1988) Artifacts from Dracula’s castle (including a crate containing the undead body of Dracula’s widow) arrive at a Hollywood wax museum operated by a man who spends his nights in silk pajamas watching a 16mm print of Murnau’s Nosferatu. After Mrs. Dracula, AKA Vanessa (Sylvia Kristel), takes a bite out of the museum owner (Lenny von Dohlen) and turns him into her servant, she immediately goes about Tinseltown sucking the blood out of nearby drunks and sleazoid pick-up artists. A homicide detective (Josef Sommer, fresh off Witness) investigates the bloody trail of mangled victims left by Vanessa while she infiltrates and single-handedly slaughters a cult of muscle-bound devil worshippers. If you’re wondering if any of this is supposed to be taken seriously, rest assured as Dracula’s Widow is done tongue-in-cheek. Most of the cast plays the film with a smirk, including Stefan Schnabel, whose modern day Van Helsing takes delight in staking vampires as they lay unconscious in the morgue. But the entire movie rests on the padded shoulders of Kristel, whose acting choice is to play the role more like an extraterrestrial who just landed on Earth than a centuries-old vampire. Moments of colorful visual flair by director Christopher Coppola (Nicolas Cage’s brother) and a sense of love for old monster movies aren’t enough to lift Dracula’s Widow out from mediocrity. C

ICED (1989) A group of personality-free friends—much like the Power Rangers, the only way to tell them apart is by the different colors they wear—invited to the grand opening of new ski resort, Snow Peak, are stalked and massacred by a killer in a ski suit and goggles. The airheads are dispatched in the usual slasher movie fashion, i.e. eye-gougings, electrocutions, and one guy who gets shredded by a snow plow (the only flash of originality in the movie). Does all of this mayhem have something to do with the death of a scorned lover four years earlier during a similar ski weekend? The specifically-placed newspaper clipping of the four-year-old accident in one character’s bedroom says “yes.” Most of these dolts don’t make the connection between their traumatic past and the murders until it’s too late—for the characters and the viewer. Iced is too bloodless to appeal to splatter fans, and too dull to appeal to, well, anyone, making its 86 minutes feel interminable. For the bad movie lover, however, Iced is passable garbage. Great title. C

LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971) Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotton) successfully creates life in the form of a murderous monster, and in consequence is crushed to death by his creation. Believing she can tame the psychopathic creature, the Baron’s daughter, Tania (Rosalba Neri), with the help of her husband (Paul Muller), takes over her father’s work. Meanwhile, the creature (Riccardo Pizzuti) roams the countryside and, in what could possibly be a perverse homage to James Whale’s Frankenstein, comes across a couple having sex and subsequently tosses the naked woman into a river where she drowns. After a lot of chit-chat, numerous bared breasts, and a needless police investigation storyline that reeks of plot padding, Lady Frankenstein tires of her husband’s nay-saying, kills him, and implants his brain into the body of a young stableboy—do I sense an anti-feminist message here? One of several Frankenstein bloodbaths made in Italy in the seventies, Lady Frankenstein has all the hallmarks of a Hammer film—lavish sets, bodacious women, beautiful locations—but drowns in overblown performances, slack pacing, and some truly terrible makeup FX. It’s also overlong and lacks a single sympathetic character. At least Frankenstein ’80 was bad in an enjoyable kinda way. D

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