Reviews

Shaitani Dracula (2006)

Singh! You got the goods! You’ve left my mind spinning as my heart pines for the joys of scantily clad women wearing grotesque Halloween masks and vampire teeth. Nothing makes sense the way it did the day before. Actors walking towards the camera and going out of focus? That’s no mistake. There are no more mistakes. You have made everything that happens around a camera fair game. You, yourself, feature prominently as Dracula. I applaud the crazy-ass vision that produced this movie. The fact that you kept an Indian film under eighty minutes surprises the heck out of me. Did you have to get some sort of permit to keep the movie under two hours? I’m taking deep breaths right now and thinking about what Mr. Singh has put together here.

Shaitani Dracula starts throwing things at you the moment it begins. A person hunches awkwardly over another. The director looks at the camera and says the word “Dracula” many, many times. Then, the James Bond theme kicks in and the credits roll. Thank you, India. As always, I had no subtitles and I speak no Hindi. Not a hindrance. Dracula sends out weird monsters and demons to attack a group of folks hanging out in the woods. Two goofy guys, who may be Indian Vaudevillians, watch a beautiful woman wearing a disturbing long-faced mask dance. People are jumped and attacked by monsters and then are just fine. A vampire woman with wings and white underwear flies through the air frightening all those around her. And it’s great. Every single minute of it.

I recently watched a series of David Lynch’s short films. Surreal images, odd noises, disturbing flashes of things that barely register in the mind. Mr. Singh and Mr. Lynch must have gone to the same school. In Mr. Singh’s work, multicolored lights flash and smoke fills the woods as a man in some sort of werebear suit attacks! An actor looks at the camera at the end of a scene. Everything goes out of focus. Two women (one a vampire) fight for their lives and the camera pans up so we can see the lights and a crew member. My mind loudly shifted from David Lynch to David “The Rock” Nelson. With a bit of Benny Hill mixed in.

I do wish I knew what folks were saying throughout the film but it’s not an issue. Every few minutes one of the vampires or monsters appear or the director gives a speech where he uses the word “Dracula” ten times. I wondered if he knew what the word meant. It began to sound like a little child who hears the word “tits” for the first time and can’t stop saying it. Even though he doesn’t actually know what they are. I also wondered what context could require Dracula to say his name that many times. In the director’s defense, he also required himself to hang out with, and touch a lot of, scantily clad women. Whatever he’s saying, it’s working.

This is the sort of movie that I’m very glad I found. I’ve watched it twice and, much like Love Brides of the Blood Mummy, it makes more sense a second time. A repeated viewing differentiates the characters and gives the film a semblance of story. There is a woman, a real hip-holder of a woman, who is our main hero. She fights the female vampires and meets up with Dracula for the big brawl in the end. Apart from that, I don’t think more plot is actually necessary. It’s just going to distract from the alluring preternatural chicanery that these woods hold for you. And may make you stop wondering why that woman in her underwear is wearing a werewolf mask with bright red hair.

You can try to blink the crazies away but this film won’t let it go. It’s a child’s vision of a vampire movie that verges on a wet dream of epic proportions. It’s an out of focus, can’t close your mouth, tight squeeze directly to your subconscious. A film that wants to entertain you but keeps making the synapses in your brain spark until you smell burning and it’s coming from inside your head. And Mr. Singh is in there, laughing and saying the word “Dracula” and letting stray geese randomly wander into dramatic shots and making Dave “The Rock” Nelson look like the sane man in the room.

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