Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I saw Dracula A.D. 2015--A Hammer Tribute...

Writer/Director/Producer Joshua Kennedy has done it again (see March '15: "From Earth Sand to Space Sand...Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Teenage Women"), and this time he's given us a rousing Hammer Horror tribute..."Dracula A.D. 2015"!!!

Filmed on location at NY's Pace University, this Gooey Film Production not only pays homage to the obvious "Dracula A.D. 1972", but offers a generous seasoning of "Taste the Blood of Drac" and "Horror of Drac", plus a smidgen of "Night Stalker" and "Count Yorga--Vampire". To nurture its Hammer ambiance, the film even shares the likes of Mike Vickers and James Bernard's mood-setting music and supplies impressive acting: something one isn't likely to find in most amateur productions. (Actually, for an "amateur" film, this one is pretty darn professional, with colorful cinematography and perfectly calculated humor and thrills.) 

The plot unfolds just like "Drac '72", with an ascending jet-credits nod after an ominous prologue; also, Hammer character-name references are aplenty as the story builds (a sweet treat for those in-the-know).

Professor Terence Fordyce (Joshua Kennedy, deftly filling Peter Cushing's shoes) arrives at the university to lecture on the Count and is greeted by his lovely sister, Jennifer (Kat Kennedy). It just so happens that Jennifer's instructor, Ingrid Stensgaard (Bessie Nellis) is also quite the Drac connoisseur, as well as an unscrupulous supporter of the eternal fiend. Hosting the professor may not have been her best choice, in this regard, since he's well versed in supernatural detection and a recent death at the college insinuates a vampire attack. 

Nonetheless, Stensgaard is appreciative of the professor's presence and elevates her devilish mood by tempting her students (in the good ol' Ralph Bates vein) to participate in a blood-splattered conjuring...if only for "a giggle". As should come as no surprise, the demonic experiment resurrects the "Prince of Darkness".

Dracula (Xander Pretorius, channeling Christopher Lee's towering air of menace) seizes the scene, manipulating, seducing and adopting a new disciple: custodian Thorley Ripper (Jeremy Kreuzer, who even tosses some Dwight Frye into his maddening performance). The Count's other disciples/victims also prove engaging and equally capture the Hammer flair: Cody Alvord as Andrew Carson; Hannah Rose Ammon as Caroline Monlaur; Clare Daniels as Gina Melly; Jake Williams as Joe Mitchum; and Madelyn Wiley as Diana Farmer; with the charming Caroline Munro gracing us with an audio cameo. 

As the danger elevates, Fordyce's Van Helsing-like diligence leads him to a face-to-face encounter with the Count. The action then reaches fever pitch, leaping to a sweeping climax (charged by two clever, back-to-back chases) that will tingle the heart of any Hammer fan. 

I enjoyed "Drac '15" so much that I initially wished it had lasted longer, but why pad perfection? Kennedy has created a tight, smooth entry, succeeding in capturing Hammer in a way that (dare I say it?) the studio's current incarnation hasn't yet accomplished. A boatload of credit must be given here, and I anxiously await Kennedy's next cinematic effort. Whatever it may ultimately be, I'm confident he'll once more nail the proverbial stake through the heart.

(Presently one can view "Dracula A.D. 2015" on YouTube and Facebook. Just search for it by title on either source.)

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