Zoltan - Hound of Dracula (1977)
By: CJ on October 10, 2002  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Anchor Bay (USA). Region 1, NTSC 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono, French DD 2.0 Mono. 87 minutes
The Movie
Director: Albert Band
Starring: Michael Pataki, Reggie Nalder and Jose Ferrer
Screenplay: Frank Ray Perilli
Music: Andrew Belling
Tagline: There's More To The Legend Than Meets... The Throat!
Country: USA
AKA: Dracula's Dog
Woof! Woof! Bark! BITE!!!

Yup, you got it. We're talking vampire dogs here, even the furry little ones we all like to cuddle; they're deadly as hell too. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Army manoeuvres in Romania unearth a tomb of Dracula (how many can there be?) and a guard is posted to keep watch. However, this guard is particularly stupid, as after another minor earth shift causes a coffin to fall to the ground revealing a staked cadaver, he decides to pull the stake out. Erm.the name Dracula is plastered all over the walls and here is a body of sorts with a stake in it..hello?? And there I was, believing that Romanian's were well versed in this mythology - obviously not! Oh well, I guess somebody had to pull the stake out and get the story moving along. Anyway, I digress. Having pulled the stake out a form begins to take shape beneath its burial shroud and it's a.dog! A vampire dog at that. So that's the end of our braindead guard, he kind of asked for it anyway. The hound from hell then sets about freeing his master, Veidt Schmidt (the ever-creepy Reggie Nalder), and together they escape the tomb before it entirely collapses all around them. It quickly becomes apparent that this dog understands English. Oh yes, Schmidt communicates telepathically in English to the hellhound Zoltan, clever doggy. Schmidt explains to Zoltan that they must find the descendant of their Master, Igor Dracula. Yes, you heard right - Igor. This descendant turns out to be Michael Drake (original huh? Drake.Dracula.yeah right..) who was taken from the homeland as a child to spare him from the family curse.

Meanwhile, over in sunny L.A., Michael Drake (Michael Pataki) and his family set off into rural America for a camping holiday. I say camping, but their camper van is as big as my house, so it's hardly 'roughing it'. Unbeknownst to them they are being spied upon by the malignant Schmidt and his dastardly dog. Their plan is to vampirise Drake and transform him into their new Master. Luckily for Mike, a vampire hunter of sorts has been dispatched from Romania to locate Veidt and destroy him before he can fulfill his plan.

So, cue lots of doggy barking and glowing eyes (wooo! scary!) which sets the Drake family on edge. However, Inspector Branco (Jose Ferrer) - the aforementioned vampire hunter - turns up. Despite being told that the family were vacationing, how the hell he managed to pinpoint their exact location so fast remains a mystery. He soon explains to Drake what is going on, and Drake takes it all in his stride (whilst trying not to trip over his flares). Our potential Count sends his family home and agrees to stay and help Branco to defeat this unspeakable evil that's roaming about the American wilderness. However, Schmidt shouldn't be too hard to spot as he's driving around in a black hearse, bit of a give-away really.

Drake and Branco hole up in a fisherman's cabin and are soon besieged by vampire dogs. Zoltan has turned all of Drake's dogs into vamps too, just to add to the fun (and the noise!!). But the dogs are scared away by the rising sun and the intrepid heroes seize their chance to escape. The film then heads towards its somewhat predictable finale with the dogs and Schmidt being dispatched back to hell. But there is a twist ending.no prizes for guessing what it is. Let's just say that there's room for a sequel..

This is actually a pretty dire movie, but I have a certain fondness for it as it was the first horror film I ever saw way back in 1980. It's quite strange to find myself then, over 20 years later, reviewing this film. I admit to liking this film, but I also fully accept that most will find it tedious nonsense. However, there's not many films that can lay claim to featuring vampire dogs, and the film does carry a certain level of entertainment value. Appalling 70's fashions; vampire hounds; the inimitable Reggie Nalder; lousy script and atrocious acting. Pataki is the biggest culprit here in the bad acting stakes (excuse the pun!), he really seems totally out of place in this film and looks mostly confused throughout its duration, as if he's thinking "What the hell am I doing here? I want to go home." Reggie Nalder is reliably chilling and highly effective in his role, it's him that saves the film really, especially as Jose Ferrer speaks his dialogue in such a stilted fashion that he was either struggling to remember his lines or was reading from autocue cards. The alarm bells should really start ringing when you see the name Albert Band on the opening credits as director..

But when all is said and done, I really like the film, and I'm sure that there are many of you who will too. So I recommend with reservations, if B-Movie trash is your thing, then there's plenty here to keep you happy. If you want something polished and professional, then go to Blockbusters.
The transfer is very good and shows very little sign of wear or tear and there are no noticeable compression artefacts. The colours remain stable throughout, but lack depth and looks a bit washed out at times. Overall, it's not bad at all. About what you'd expect from a low-budget film like this.
The audio is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono affair, but it gets the job done. The music goes a bit 'wobbly' at times, but overall is perfectly acceptable and adequately reproduces the synth and funk soundtrack (groovy!). The dialogue is a bit subdued at times, but is mostly clear and audible. Not great, but workable.
Extra Features
The only extra present on the disc is a theatrical trailer. That's it.
The Verdict
As I've said, I have a soft spot for this film, so I really enjoyed it (which is why I have given it a 4). Is it a good film? Definitely not, it's absolute shit - but entertaining shit in my opinion! However, low-budget fans will find much to appreciate here and will no doubt greatly enjoy it. The disc is a little disappointing; more extras would have been nice. But.I guess this disc is just about what the film deserves.
Movie Score
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