An excerpt from the booklet essay by Stanley Schtinter

Sexploitation king Jesus Franco convinced Christopher Lee in 1969 to star in his film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Il Conde Dracula). Unlike the Hammer Horror productions in which Lee had famously played the vampire, Franco promised to make a film faithful, finally, to Stoker’s text.
Pere Portabella heard of the plan to recreate Whitby in Barcelona, and in a gesture of tacit political and creative endorsement, Franco allowed Portabella and his crew of three to film the filming of the film.
This, in simple terms, is Vampir Cuadecuc.

Relative to other Dracula productions, Franco’s film is faithful to Stoker’s words. But so what? Portabella describes the literature-to-film adaptation as 'an undoing for the sake of re-doing, from the strength of our literary tradition to the weakness of our film.' Determined by powerful commercial and political interests, the adaptation erodes the source and the affect: literary fiction is malignant, parasitising the corpse of industrial cinema. [...] Portabella confronts the cadaver with an urgency, conviction and fluidity unique to his liberated cinematic language. This living dialogue demands the ‘interpretive freedom’ of the audience, emerging from the ground in the truest sense of the word: ‘Cuadecuc’ meaning ‘worm’s tail’ in Catalan, describes also the unexposed end of a film reel. Vampir Cuadecuc is the image recorded in search of a proper world, caught necessarily from the view of the worm’s tail. But this marginal position is not one of choice. And though Portabella has declared Vampir Cuadecuc a ‘meditation on language’, it can equally be viewed as a meditation on silence.

At the age of ten, in 1939, the Revolutionary Catalonia which Portabella called home was decimated by the military campaign of General Francisco Franco (initiating the fascist dictatorship which ruled until his death in 1975). To assist in the elimination of unacceptable extant narratives (think: gender equality; worker autonomy), Franco, under the pretence of creating ‘one Spanish identity’, banned along with Basque Euskara, the Catalan language. Speaking Catalan in public, or to be seen reading it in a book became a form of direct protest against Franco’s regime. The punishment for such protest — lashings, jail time — reflected the broader brutality and inanity of the reality into which, and of which, Vampir Cuadecuc was born.

Joan Brossa - poet and co-conceiver of the film - refused to obey the ban. Sharing the Catalan mother tongue with Portabella, Brossa suggested ‘Cuadecuc’ for the film’s title. Their creative partnership (which began when Pere asked Joan to script his first film, No contéis con los dedos, in 1968) wields the word as a weapon against the authoritarian scourge wishing to oppress it. ‘Vampir’ was Portabella’s addition to the C-bomb. With its burgeoning popularity in Spain, the horror genre, and particularly the blood-sucker, was identified as a vehicle with which to express the forbidden and breach the limits of control. ’Vampir’ is a comment on exploitation in Franco’s Spain, and in film as an industry. It is an accusation and admission of abundant vampirism.


Stanley Schtinter's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.

Disc Info

Spain, 1970
Length / Feature
(Blu-ray/24fps): 69 minutes
(DVD/25fps): 66 minutes
Blu-ray Special features:
59 mins
DVD Special features: 56 mins
Blu-Ray: 2.0 Dual Mono LPCM (48k/16-bit)
DVD: 2.0 Dolby Dual Mono
Original aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Language: English

Blu-ray: BD25 / 1080 / 24fps / Region ABC
DVD: PAL / DVD9 / Region 0

Blu-Ray: £19.99
DVD: £12.99
Release Date: 25 Sept 2017


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