Deafula (1974)

DEAFULA (1974)
Article #777 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-1-2003
Posting Date: 9-28-2003
Directed by Peter Wechsburg
Featuring Peter Wechsburg, James Randall, Dudley Helstreet

A theology student who is the son of a preacher has fits where he turns into a vampire and attacks people.

This is a weird one, and part of the reason is that it is the only movie made entirely in sign language for the hearing impaired; there is voice-over dialogue for those not able to read sign language, and the overall effect is that of bad dubbing. Still, it would have been a weird one even if it hadn’t been done in sign language. The movie itself is all over the board; it jumps from gritty to campy to moving to comic to pretentious so often that I don’t really know what to make of it. The main character is actually in a very interesting situation; he is essentially a split personality trying to reconcile the good side and the evil side, and his dilemma has a certain poignance. However, when he turns into the vampire, he looks ludicrous, with a changed hairstyle, a cape, and a fake nose that makes him look like Cyrano de Bergerac. The Van Helsing role is played for laughs; his main way of arguing is to point out that he is from London, and therefore knows how to spot a vampire. There are touches in this movie that are like nothing I’ve ever seen, including a subplot involving a character who eats peanuts without shelling them and one character who is missing his hands (an effect that is achieved by having him wear tin cans on his hands; I kid you not), which, if you think about it in terms of a movie in sign language, makes him a mute. This is definitely one of the odder movies out there.

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