S C A R L E T   C O U N T E S S

CINESCAPE, by Brian Thomas

Night time is the rite time for the Scarlet Countess 

The main agenda of most Seduction Cinema titles is naked lesbian vampires. Here, writer/director Don Glut (DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS) hits that target less than two minutes in - and there's plenty more later on. 

Glut not only delivers on this primary requirement, but also wraps it up in an engaging supernatural tale - one that has a healthy reverence for traditional horror, while maintaining a healthy sense of humor as well. While most Alternative Cinema releases suffer under the constraints of tight budgets, Glut has the maturity and smarts to be able to push his flick a little higher than one might expect. One thing that helps is that his Frontline Films is headquartered in Hollywood, which means a lot more filmmaking assets are available. 

Speaking of assets, debuting starlet Brick Randall displays all of hers in the lead role of Scarlet Brook, an aspiring musician who has her career plans sidetracked back in 1966 by an encounter with none other than Count Dracula (played by exploitation legend William Smith). Randall is not only a statuesque beauty who shows no fear during sex scenes, but also turns out to be a fine actress, showing plenty of vulnerability and depth - even when her dialogue is a little difficult. 

Scarlet tries to make the best of her hit-and-run vampire makeover, using the absent Count's cash to turn part of his L.A. castle into a night club, but by the turn of the century she's fed up with the blood drinking business. She asks her bug-munching servant Renfield (Del Howison from VAMPIRE HUNTERS CLUB) to stake her come daylight, but the old softy can't bring himself to do it. Instead, he visits the local Goth book store, where he finds an alternate solution to Scarlet's problem. 

The good news is that if Scarlet can drink the blood of three willing virgins in a single night, she can regain her humanity. The bad news: they're in Southern California in 2001. Undaunted, Renfield sets off in Scarlet's red convertible to line up some virgins. However, the old guy isn't too smart about it, since he keeps looking for virgins at strip clubs and whore houses. 

After awhile, it looks like they may have – amazingly - managed the hat trick after all, but it turns out that Scarlet gets a little more than she bargained for. 

The film comes with a lot of little touches that help hide its miniscule budget and five day shooting schedule. One huge benefit is the cinematography by Stephen Rocha, whose work with the camera helps hide the film's digital video origins. Another nice touch is the use of extensive shooting outdoors and at actual Hollywood locations, which help expand the film's scope. 

An especially good decision came when it was decided to use a Goth rock soundtrack, mainly provided by Doppleganger and Shadow Light. Since the running time needed to be stretched a bit with musical sequences, it helps a lot that the music is good enough to keep you rooted. 

The DVD comes with a fine commentrak with Glut, producer Kevin Glover and editor Dean McKendrick. The trio provide a full course in low budget filmmaking, demonstrating how they had to think on their feet every step of the way, while not forgetting to provide plenty of fun stories about specific scenes. There's also a section of outtakes and bloopers culled from the long days of shooting. As always, there's a trailer vault of over  a dozen ads for Alternative Cinema releases. My favorite was the one for NUDE CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUT. 

 THE EROTIC RITES OF COUNTESS DRACULA Movie Grade: B+ Disc Gra 

DVD AUTHORITY, by Alan Simpson 

I've been curious of the output from Seduction Cinema and its sister companies for some time. Having regularly perused their distribution site Alternative Cinema many times basically because they seem to have a great line of grade z movies packed full of gorgeous babes (well have you seen Factory 2000's Misty Mundae? What an absolute honey!), I was more then curious when I popped 'The Erotic rites of Countess Dracula' into the old DVD player... 

The film opens with guns a blazing (well in the lesbo vampire style) with the lovely Countess rolling around the floor with three sexually wired vampirettes, complete with low budget gothic opening titles promising a lot for what's to come. So with the films title in mind and the gothic lesbo opening sequence I was indeed hoping for a soft-core smutty interpretation of the old Hammer classics - I didn't really get it but I still had lots of fun! 

The film opens proper in the 1960's where we meet rock star wannabe Scarlet Brooks loitering outside a recording studio, building up courage to go record her stab at fame. Things go awry for her when she is approached by the great man himself Count Dracula (played admirably by William Smith) who (after the usual Transylvanian chat up banter) goes for her jugular - transforming her into Countess Scarlet (Hammer chick lookalike and bored creature of the night!) The Count swiftly exits stage left to go back to the home country leaving the Countess in the protective company of loyal servant and ageing Hollywierd bug eater Renfield. Years pass by and the poor Countess has grown bored with the her vampiric lifestyle and after pleading with Renfield to finish her off (kill her that is) with the old wooden stake method, Renfield reveals to her that she could in fact return to her human form if she feasted on the blood of three virgin girls in one single night! The race is on, can Scarlet find some willing virgins to sup on or will she be destined to live immortally as a creature of the night! 

As I mentioned earlier, 'The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula' only hints at the gothic Hammer horror origins that could have been expanded on but it doesn't take away from what is in fact a mindlessly entertaining romp! Very much a fun B-movie with lots of titillation to keep all amused - a nice mixture of sexy fun and low budget chuckles that will suit folk that like exactly this sort of flick. Writer/director Donald F Glut does a solid enough job, in fact probably better than the budget allowed with some nice atmospheric set-pieces that are cookily strange alongside the standard dancing babe shots and lesbian shenanigans. I did indeed chuckle away at some of the onscreen fun though I did feel that if some of the sex scenes had been a touch stronger (in the x rated sense) they would have had much more appeal and impact all round. That said though I'm sure many of our readers could still jerk off a few times checking this one out (well hell, there are some very attractive women cast here - the goth vampire wannabe was particularly cute). 

The disc itself is a pretty good package also with a nice mastered print on show with clear audio throughout. There's not much in the way of extras but what is there adds to the experience with a full audio commentary with director/writer Donald Glut (which delivers some additional amusing insights) and a collection of out-takes and blooper scenes that will put a wry smile on your face also. What did have me drooling personally though was some of the trailers included on the 'Trailer Vault' section which includes some very interesting trailer reels. Of special note was some of the 'Retro' title line with some great looking discs of old gems like the 'Inga' series, the Factory 2000 offshoots et al - I'm very much now looking forward to checking some of this stuff out soon also! 

So if you've a penchant for grade z sexy soft-core lesbo vampire fun then you really will have a laugh (and even perhaps a rummage downstairs) with this frisky goth-core release! 

THE DVD ANSWER MAN,  by John Stanley 

In the year 1966 struggling rock star Scarlet Brooks is attacked by a vampire, and  as most of you know its only a matter of time before Scarlet herself turns into one of  the undead. Now under protection by the counts personal guard, Renfield, Scarlet   must struggle with being a vampire. Flash forward to present day, Scarlet gives orders to Renfield to kill her but he has other ideas, apparently there's some vampire rule that I have never heard of that states if you have three sexy young virgins to sacrifice their blood, Scarlet can become human again. Right. Along the way Scarlet must stalk and seduce the three beauties having sex with each one of course. But the horror doesn't end for Scarlet once she regains her human form, she'll have to deal  with all three of her victims at once in a sexy showdown to the end. The newest vampire flick from Seduction Cinema kinda surprised me, it still gives a generous helping of amazingly attractive women but this one also has some halfway decent acting, as opposed to the performances given from most Seduction films that are to laugh at. Sure the plot has been used too many times to count but this one will be a nice chance of pace for the Seduction faithful, as Brick Randall give a surprisingly better than terrible performance, Meredith Rinehart, Nicole Liberty, Julia Anna Thurman and Charlie round out the cast of sexy females. Directed by Donald Glut and on a limited budget, I think he did a pretty good job working with what he had, this one might surprise a few.   

Sound: The usual stereo track which is used in almost every Seduction title was the  weapon of choice here. Vocals came through clear enough and background music  filled nicely with little to no background hiss. This disc is proof that you don't have to  have a 5.1 track or a snappy 2.0 mix to have decent sound for DVD. 

Picture: Full frame format, not too bad either. Colors were only a shade off but fleshtones looked decent and the image overall was not to soft considering the  limited means the production team had to work with. Contrast could have been  better and detail was almost non existing which really hurt the picture considering  this is an almost 100% night time flick, but overall not too bad. 

Features: A seldom used commentary track is provided by director Glut, its  actually pretty entertaining as he walks you through the making of the film, Some outtakes as well as some bloopers (which I didn't find to be too funny) are also  included along with the usual truckload of Seduction trailers for other releases. 

SOFTCORE REVIEWS 

A stylistic, well-shot movie-on-video, The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula reminded me a bit of the old Hammer horror films, with lots of smoke machines, dark castles, and an overall gothic feel. But you wanna know about the sex, right? Right. Ok, let's get down to  business... 

Brick Randall is Scarlett Brooks, a rock star poised on stardom in 1966 when Count Dracula (played by legendary character actor, William Smith...trust us, you've seen him before) interupts her path to fame by turning her into a vampire. Damn the luck! Confined to a coffin by day, she is guarded by the Count's loyal assistant, Renfield (Del Howison), and the Countess does not view her newfound immortality and thirst for blood as a good thing. Flash forward 35 days to present day...After Renfield refuses to put her out of her misery (he cannot bring himself to kill such a beautiful creature), they discover that if they get three virgins to willingly sacrifice themselves to her in one night she can become human again. So begins Scarlett's quest to seduce and then suck on three nubile young virginal women, and since they are in southern California, the Countess notes that finding three beautiful virgins will not be an easy task. 

The sex is not explicit nor particularly passionate, but does have a certain degree of sensuality, and for those of you who enjoy vampire themes with a slant of comedy, this movie might be interesting. The lighting during the sex scenes could have been much better, but overall the sex is very tame and mostly of the posing variety, so I doubt too much was missed. 

Anyone who's a big fan of the Star Wars saga might recognize director Donald F. Glut as the guy who wrote the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back. I still have an original, well-worn paperback of it on my shelf, in fact. He's also responsible for the cult b-classic, Dinosaur Valley Girls, along with many other independent film and writing credits. 

SECRET SCROLLS DIGEST, by Mike Haushalter 

Way back in the sixties sexy Scarlet Brooks¹ "big break" as a rock star is cut  short by Count Dracula! The next night, Scarlet rises from a coffin in Dracula’s castle as one of the immortal undead, guarded by the Count¹s crazed, bug-eating servant Renfield. Scarlet despises her new existence as a vampire, and after savagely satisfying her craving for blood by victimizing a friend, she accepts her fate but vows never to attack another human being again. 35 years later, Scarlet (now known as the "Scarlet Countess"), jaded and depressed, survives on outdated blood acquired from hospitals and blood banks. Tired of her life as a vampire she orders Renfield to drive a stake through her heart. Unable to destroy Scarlet, Renfield discovers that if a vampire can get three virgins to sacrifice their blood willingly in a single night, she can become mortal again. Embarking on this seemingly impossible quest, Scarlet stalks and seduces three young beauties, making passionate love to each one and finally feasting on their blood. But, as they say, "be careful what you wish for." 

I really liked this super-sexy erotic vampire film from Seduction Cinema and Frontline films. Originally named "Scarlet Countess" the film was given the more exotic and marketable title "The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula for DVD/Video release. Writer/director Donald F. Glut puts together a very satisfying low budget lesbo vampire film here. His previous work includes Dinosaur Valley Girls (which he wrote and directed as well), script work for Land of the Lost and Scooby Doo and Dino-mutt hour, and some horror novels based on the classic monsters. Shot in only 5 days, Glut's love for vampire lore, filmmaking and beautiful woman shows on the screen and in the playful script. Extra kudos, too, for a script that is rather good and has an actual story, which is a rare thing for a nudie-cutie film. The film looks very good for being shot on video. It has tight editing; well-constructed shots with lots of fluid camera movement, and the several lesbian couplings are all well staged and filmed. Even the scenes set in the sixties are fairly well presented which is no mean feat considering video just screams nineties. The best scene is Scarlet's dream sequence that has a nice old news footage effect. The cast is great, featuring an awesome cameo by William Smith (Any Which Way You Can and Conan), as Dracula. Smith's portrayal of Dracula adds a lot of credibility to the film and boosts the performances of cast members playing opposite of him. Renfield, played by Del Howison (who in real life owns the bookstore that was used for location shots), does a good job as Scarlet's right hand man. More importantly for a film of this type the starlets are all hot, sexy and decent actresses. Brick Randall is very good as the star Vamp Scarlet and is very sexy, voluptuous, and handles the roll of lead with ease and poise. Goth Girl store clerk Shado played by Julia  Anna Thurman is the films crown jewel however, a pale thin exotic beauty with coal black hair and small pert breasts with large perky nipples. Her erotic encounter with Scarlet is the high point of the film and is worth the price of purchase alone. Her facial reactions of bliss are some of the most erotic I have ever seen. She's easily the hottest girl in this film. The Goth inspired soundtrack is also good with a few tracks I wouldn't mind having on CD. All in all this adds up to one fine flick. I'm looking forward to seeing the proposed sequel Crimson Tears but for the  meantime I think I¹ll go rent Dinosaur Valley Girls for a future review. 

ECCENTRIC CINEMA, by Brian Lindsey

With The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula, writer-director Donald F. Glut (Dinosaur Valley Girls) manages to pull off an entertaining sex/horror/comedy on a virtually nonexistent budget. There are maybe all of three locations in the movie (one a real-life  Hollywood motel) and what limited special effects are displayed are decidedly not special. Perhaps most of the money went for hiring the actresses, who frequently get naked and engage in lesbian sex scenes. But they're all quite attractive, look good with their clothes off, and most of 'em can even act. In late 1960s L.A., Scarlet — played by statuesque redhead Brick Randall — is an aspiring rock singer who is attacked by Count Dracula himself (William Smith) one night outside a recording studio. She brandishes a peace symbol as a talisman to ward off the vampire but this proves ineffective. Dracula bites her and carries away her body. (Smith's Drac is definitely a breast man, as he opens Scarlet's blouse for a peek at her nibblies even before draining any jugular juice.) The Count then takes off for Transylvania (literally, in one of the cheapest-looking digital effects we've ever seen) leaving in Scarlet's trust his castle-like mansion complete with devoted, bug-eating servant Renfield (Howison). When Scarlet awakens in her new state of being she's totally bummed out about the prospect of "living" as a vampire. Renfield's entreaties about the gift of eternal youth and beauty can't make a dent in her funk. So she spends the next 30 years pining over the music career she never had. The story flashes forward to the present day, with Scarlet still stuck in her "woe is me" rut. Nightly trips to a bar called "The Scarlet Countess" — also the film's original title, by the way — don't do anything to relieve her ennui. (In a prime example of blatant padding, the filmmakers take this moment to insert a fantasy sequence with Scarlet imaging a beautiful brunette, played by the voluptuous Charlie, performing a striptease and taking a dip in a hot tub. This really has nothing to do with the plot, of course; it's just a music video with nudity. But if one has to pad out a movie, we can think of a lot worse ways to do it.) Finally fed up, Scarlet decides to end her existence — she orders Renfield to drive a stake through her heart at dawn. But the loyal servant can't bring himself to do the deed. Instead he offers her hope of fulfilling her wish. In a Hollywood book store he's found a copy of the "Ruthvenian", the Holy Bible of the Vampires. Within ts pages lies the promise of a vampire's return to human mortality if he or she can find three virgins willing to be seduced over to the dark side, all within the span of a single day. At first this would seem a daunting task. "Where am I going to find three virgins within 24 hours... in L.A.?" Scarlet whines. Fortunately for the viewer this turns out to be rather easily accomplished, as Renfield offers up to his mistress three young ladies who fit the bill: Tiffany (Meredith Rhinehart), a buxum college student; Vicki (Nicole Liberty), a  shapely club patron; and the cute goth-chick bookstore clerk, Shado (Julia Ann  Thurman) who sold him the ancient tome. In pursuit of her quest for mortality, Scarlet wastes no time getting them out of their clothes and draining them of blood...It's all just a silly bit of hooey, of course. The only reason this movie exists is for the T & A, which is plentiful and pleasing to the eye. But the difference between this and your typical Friday night cheap-o skin flick on Cinemax is that director Glut and company are competent filmmakers without a pretentious bone in their bodies. They know the film is being made purely for the titillation of B-movie watching males — and perhaps goth-inclined ladies of the Sapphic persuasion? — who're flopped on the couch at two A.M. with beer or blunt in hand. (Or, by the time the lesbian orgy sequence that caps the film rolls around, maybe something else in hand.) They had little money to work with and a whopping 5 whole days to shoot the thing. Yet they don't use those impediments as an excuse for a crappily-mounted production or a "Who gives a shit?" attitude to the narrative. Genre fans will note that Glut's script includes a number of in-jokes, particularly references to the 1943 Universal horror Son of Dracula. So as long as one is fully aware of what to expect from this — naked women, softcore lesbian sex, a few laughs — an enjoyable time should be in the offing. The goth-rock music score, courtesy of bands Shadow Light and Doppleganger, is better than it has any right to be. (This is a good thing, too, as much of the flick plays like an extended music video for Playboy TV.) And it's great to see craggy B-movie veteran William Smith (The Losers, Invasion of the Bee Girls) back on the screen again, only here he's playing "The Bloody Count" Dracula instead of a tough-guy biker or action heavy. 

The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula is presented in non-anamorphic letterbox format. This was a surprise; we'd expected it to be fullframe. Given that it's a zero-budget production originally shot with digital video (and tweaked to make it appear as though shot on film stock) don't expect grain-free, razor sharp clarity in the visuals. The disc's stereo sound mix does justice to the rock-driven score, however. One wouldn't expect bonus features on a budget-priced disc of this nature (i.e., a straight to video sexploitation flick), but this recent Seduction Cinema release delivers. A full-fledged audio Commentary is included, with Glut, producer Kevin Glover and editor Dean McKendrick participating. A few good-natured jokes and bad puns aside, these guys avoid taking the low road — something that'd be very easy to do with a cheesy lesbian vampire flick — and instead make it a fairly interesting primer on low budget "guerilla" filmmaking. An amusing blooper/outtake reel also highlights the shoestring yet professional nature of the production.

THE VIDEO GRAVEYARD

Seduction Cinema and Frontline Entertainment team-up for this actually quite good erotic vampire movie that stars Brick Randall (who's fine in the lead - and looks good too) as the title Countess who hates being a vampire and just wants to pursue her dream of being a rock star.

Well it seems the solution to her problem is to suck the blood of three willing virgins in one night in order to become human again. This leads to all sorts of softcore moments (and this even opens with a lesbian orgy scene).

I find a good portion of Seduction's T&A horror releases all suffer from trying too hard to have an Airplane!-like comedy feel to them but this one works because it may be unserious in tone but comes across as a semi-homage to classic horror by writer/director Glut (only with a lot of skin on display).

The plotting may seem thin but this is watchable enough and it rises above most of its type thanks to the filmmakers trying to inject their movie with decent characters. If you're into this type of stuff this is recommended.

Extras: As is standard with Seduction Cinema's releases this has a trailer and a trailer vault (all of Seduction's releases given softcore trailers). But the best thing here is a commentary track which is informative and good listening about how to make an independent horror film.                           


 [ Dinosaur Valley Girls ]   [ Before La Brea ]   [ The Making of DVG ]