Monday, 26 October 2009

303: Cocksuckers & Bloodsuckers - Gay Vampires 3

"Disco Beaver From Outer Space", National Lampoon HBO Special, 1978

You should go to first, since much of this sketch is adapted from Tony Hendra’s original “Dragula” comic in "National Lampoon", November 1971. That’s the first case of the bloodsucker / cocksucker joke, though its not reused in this version. Indeed, for all that I’m not a great fan of that piece, it’s certainly better than this sketch. This material is cannabilised here since this special was partly produced by Hendra.

Part 1

Part 2

Peter Elbing as Dragula
Lynn Redgrave as Professor van Helsing
James Widdoes as Lou Murray

First off, it really doesn’t help that this looks really cheap, and shoddily shot. The bits in the first half which are adapted from the comic are not handled well. The second half, which is new material, and tries to spin off the more familiar Dracula material looks as though it’s been filmed during the first run-through.
The only credit I will give it is that Peter Elbling puts some effort into his performance as Dragula. Of course, Elbling has always been a somewhat arch and mannered performer, but not unenjoyable with it, which doesn’t hurt if you’re playing a gay version of Dracula.
His performance makes something of the common idea of the cultured, elegant vampire, ideas about louche Europeans, and then showing how these overlap common assumptions about stereotyped gay attitudes. He at least manages to put some spin on some clunking lines. Honestly the second half frankly falls below the standards of a Bowery Boys film, with poor puns, and the lame shtick attempting to bite the editor.
How on earth Lynn Redgrave ended up in this as Professor Van Helsing? Maybe community service?
The additions in the first section aren’t gold either. To give it its due, when the hardhat is vampirised it’s hard to think how any gay signifier wouldn’t seem crass in context. Although whimpering “I feel pretty” is quite lame. The audience is supposed to recall that the rest of the verse goes “I feel pretty and witty and GAY”. And the gay version of the vampirised hardhat isn’t very au courrant. When you think about what gay men were getting up to at the time, a sissy making limp-wristed primping gesture and feyly saying “I’ll go get the other girls” is a few years behind the times.
The homoerotism of old hockey footage is a new addition. Though “Monty Python” got there first with its celebrating footballers.

Indeed all the vampirised gays are coy mimsy performances. This reaches its nadir when James Widdoes as the magazine editor is turned gay. The office decor, and his costume with the sunglasses, and his over-emotionalism all look looks as though they’ve been cribbed from “La Cage aux Folles” (1978)
Dragula being repelled by meatloaf, brut, and tasteless crass Americana is a sort of joke about finicky design queens.

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