SON OF DRACULA (1974)
Article 3660 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-7-2011
Posting Date: 8-22-2011
Directed by Freddie Francis
Featuring Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, Dennis Price
What it is: Odd horror musical
The Son of Count Dracula is slated to become King of the Netherworld, but there’s a problem; he wants to give up his vampiric ways and become human.
I once put forth the theory that any movie that features the character of Merlin the Magician that does not also feature the character of King Arthur is going to be awful. Of those that I’ve seen, this is the movie that comes closest to proving me wrong; the movie is not what I’d call “good”, but it’s not quite awful. The problem is that it’s such a curious and odd movie that I’m not quite sure what I think of it. It was produced by Ringo Starr (who plays Merlin) and stars rock star Harry Nilsson in the title role. Nilsson’s performance is not awful, but it seems obvious that he’s not an actor, and this shows especially when he shares the scene with the likes of Dennis Price or Freddie Jones. Ringo actually does okay as Merlin; despite the stereotypical wizard costume, he plays the character fairly straight. The cast also features Keith Moon, Peter Frampton, Leon Russell, Klaus Voorman and John Bonham, but they essentially play members of Nilsson’s band and only perform as musicians. The story weaves in Dr. Frankenstein, Van Helsing, a werewolf, the Frankenstein monster, and a mummy into the plot. It’s not scary, but it’s not really trying to be, and though I’ve heard it described as a comedy, it’s not particularly funny, either. However, the music is very good, and perhaps that’s why, whenever the plot comes to a standstill for another song, it doesn’t bother me. According to IMDB, David Bowie was originally considered for the Nilsson role; I wonder how different the movie would have ended up in that case.
Thanks for giving this a decent review. You seem to get it where many reviewers don’t: it’s about the music.