All this week, I've been in the process of converting a bunch of my VHS tape collection (well, what little remained after I threw 80% of it out) to DVD via my handy TiVo with burner. And after digging tapes out to convert, and doing some research on said programs, I gotta say: AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Okay. Deep breaths. That's better.
Maybe I should start at the beginning: too many years ago to mention with a straight face, I watched a two-hour telefilm called The World of Dracula. It starred a then-young Michael Nouri (infamous for Flashdance, opposite Jennifer Beals) as the prince of darkness himself, who had become so disenchanted with his everlasting existence that he became a lowly history professor at a junior college (teaching, quite naturally, night classes). He was pursued by the grandson of his mortal enemy, Van Helsing, and his girlfriend Mary, whose mother had become one of Dracula's victims. I remembered quite liking Nouri as Dracula, with the right accent, and the right charisma (but that hair was all wrong!). And Carol Baxter as Mary was at least moderately yummy.
Only later did I discover that World was, in fact, not a "real" telefilm, but rather an assemblage of the pieces of an actual TV series called Cliffhangers!, created by Ken Johnson (who'd also been responsible for The Six Million Dollar Man and, of all things, The Incredible Hulk live-action series). The concept of the series was simple: conjure the feel of the old movie serials where every week's installment ended in a cliffhanger, to be resolved the next week. To that effect, three series each of distinct genres were created, with each having 20 minutes' screen time per week. Of course, TV watchers in 1979 weren't quite ready for a series that they had to watch every week, and the heavily-touted series not only premiered with abysmal ratings, they sank even lower and Cliffhangers! was canceled after only 13 installments. And where did World fit into the puzzle? Well, it (under its then-title, The Curse of Dracula) has the significance of being the sole series to complete all of its installments prior to cancellation, ten in all.
So, when I threw out old videotapes, I naturally saved World as a curiosity, and here I am after having converted it to DVD and re-watched it. And between my research online and watching the ending all over again, as the good Count might say, I have come to an inescapable conclusion: The World of Dracula tells only half the story! That's right: all these years, I was watching only the first five (apparently) installments of the series! Another telefilm, assembled from the remainder of the material, is out there: its name, The Loves of Dracula.
I knew the ending of the World telefilm wasn't pat at all, ending not with Dracula's death, not with a resolution of any of the main plotlines. In fact, it added a complication in the return of Mary's thought-dead mother, who instead had become a vampire, like Dracula. The thrust of the story at World's end was that Dracula was seducing Mary, like he did her mother, and she was but one bite away from becoming an eternal child of the night. Mary's mother came as a strange ally, to help Kurt Van Helsing in keeping Mary away from Dracula's sway long enough to destroy him and the remaining six boxes of Transylvanian earth the Count must have nearby.
So, now I'm upset at myself for not seeing the obvious sooner, and I'm seeking out that second telefilm. I hear both it and World were released on VHS in the early 1990s, but are long out of print. If anyone has 'em...I will gladly convert it to DVD for you and me both to enjoy. How's that for service?
Anyone vaguely remember what I'm talking about? Anyone else have any favorite vampire films? Bueller?