God knows dog eyes don't naturally glow like that.
If there's one kind of story of which we can't get enough, it's vampire animal stories. We love 'em all. Bunnicula. Count Duckula. Mr Dead, the Vampire Horse. Fluffy the Vampire Slayer. Rikitikitavicula, the Mongoose from Hell. And now we've seen Zoltan, Hound of Dracula. After watching this movie, you may believe a dog can suck blood. Or, more likely, you'll believe that a movie about a dog that can suck blood can just plain suck.
Our first clue to the awfulness of Zoltan was the appearance Albert Band's name under the words "Directed By." Albert Band is part of the infamous Full Moon Band family. Other members of the family include Albert's son Charles, director of such treasures as Trancers and the producer of many incredibly bad films from the Full Moon stable, and Richard (brother to Charles?), composer for many of those same bad films, including Zarkorr! the Invader and Zone Troopers. Like the name Dino De Laurentiis, "Band" is not a good name to have associated with your movie.
The cast sent out its own brand of creepy vibe. Front and center is Michael Pataki, yet another winner of the Stomp Tokyo "b-movie actor who was once on Star Trek" award. (See Nighthawks, Blood Beach, and Switchblade Sisters for more on this.) He plays Michael Drake, who is actually a lost member of the Dracula family. Drake -- Dracula -- get it? Will he take up the mantle of head bloodsucker? Or will his inherent humanity save him from the scourge of his family line?
Who knows? This is a movie is about a blood-sucking dog! Long ago, Zoltan was the canine companion of an old Romanian peasant named Veidt. One night the latest of the line of Dracula, Igor --yes, Igor-- Dracula unsuccessfully attacked Veidt's daughter. Fleeing the scene, Igor changed into a bat and stopped for a quick bite to eat on Zoltan. Zoltan became a vampire dog, and Igor also had the werewithall to convert Veidt into a living zombie, slave to the Dracula family.
Ferrer explains just how he got roped
into this crummy movie.
Jump to a few decades later. Romanian soldiers, apparently in a unit composed totally of men who know nothing about vampires, blast away at the countryside. They find a crypt full of bodies with stakes stuck in them. Naturally, one of the soldiers pulls the stake out of one of the bodies, and faster than you can say "beggin' strip," Zoltan is unleashed on the world once more!
What does a hellhound do? Well, his eyes glow. Occasionally he sucks the blood out of another dog after hypnotizing them. He follows Veidt's orders. Sometimes he doesn't follow Veidt's orders, but it's tough tell the difference.
Veidt: Bad dog! Bad dog! All over the master's new coffin!
Zoltan: Woof! Woof woof!
This movie almost killed us with its lack of action. Almost nothing happens, and the movie does little to explore the ramifications of being a vampire dog. For instance, the film establishes that Dracula can change into a bat. So what can Zoltan turn into? Wouldn't it be funny if Zoltan could turn into a human? Or a cat? Or something? Instead, Zoltan just glows his eyes at the camera for 90 minutes.
Zoltan (aka Dracula's Dog) is wretchedly low-budget, with the action moving to a no doubt cost-effective camping ground early on (heck, it worked for the first seven Friday the 13th movies).The only sign of class in the film is the presence of Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer, playing a Romanian police inspector who searches for vampires. Apparently Donald Pleasence was busy the week they shot Zoltan.
To finish up our review, we'd like to share our favorite bit of dialogue from the film. Hopefully it will help convince you of the value of Zoltan, Hound of Dracula.
Zoltan: Wooof! Woof woof woof woof!
Bernie, the newly-converted vampire hunting dog: Woof! Woof bark!
Samson, once Michael Drake's but now also a vampire dog: Bow wow! Woof!