If you are in the mood for a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy in the fangs-in-neck vein, chock full of corn and camp but also with a respectful approach to classic vampire films and lore, look no further than director Stephen Wolfe’s short film Dracula’s Coffin. From the lighting and special effects to David E. Mitchell’s score and beyond, the short feels like an authentic 1980s direct-to-video effort, in often the best ways.
Abe Van Helsing (Matt Baca), a descendant of the famous vampire-hunting family, hires Josie (Sarah Pohl) to housesit his Los Angeles home while he travels to Transylvania. She has free roam of the house except for the basement, about which he warns she must never, ever go into for any reason. Enter Josie’s boyfriend Freddy (Tim Robinson, who cowrote the screenplay with Wolfe), who after a straight-from-the-eighties dance sequence and a bit of hubba hubba, insists on investigating some odd sounds from downstairs. As you might guess from the short’s title, he finds the legendary bloodsucker, and unleashes a feeding frenzy.
The “bawdy horror” humor ranges from sophomoric to Rabelaisian, with Abe sending up red flags that should have sent Josie running from the get go. Though much of the story doesn’t tread new ground, the climax delivers some unexpected fun. Wolfe and Robinson tend to reach for what will be easy laughs for some, but hoary chestnuts for others. Where their screenplay shines, though, is in its obvious love and reverence for classic Dracula fare — especially the Hammer Film Productions efforts, vampire comedies from the 1960s and 1970s, and vampire television films from that era, too — and 1980s video-store nuggets.
Dracula’s Coffin screens at GenreBlast, which runs at the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, Virginia, from August 29– September 1.(4 / 5)