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Zoltan... Hound of Dracula (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Zoltan... Hound of Dracula (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: October 22nd, 2019.
    Director: Albert Band
    Cast: Michael Pataki, Reggie Nalder, Jose Ferrer
    Year: 1977
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    Zoltan... Hound of Dracula – Movie Review:

    When a team of soldiers inadvertently unearths a tomb during some excavations, Dracula's servant, Veidt Smith (played by Reggie Nalder of The Man Who Knew Too Much) rises from the grave along with his dog, Zoltan. Apparently they need a new master to serve or they'll die, so they travel across the world to California to track down the last remaining descendent of the Dracula family played by Michael Pataki (Halloween 4, The Return Of Count Yorga) as Michael Drake, who's getting ready to take his wife, two kids, and many dogs on a camping trip in the remote woods.

    Controlled by Veidt, Zoltan converts some dogs in the camp area to vampires, and mauls a few random campers, as they hunt down Drake.

    Luckily for Drake, Inspector Branco (played by Jose Ferrer of The Swarm and The Evil That Men Do) has been following Veidt and Zoltan from the start and, with the help of friendly neighbors and the clownish local authorities, is able to track down the Drake family just as they're getting ready to head out of the woods after strange things start happening in and around their mobile home.

    Drake and Branco take it upon themselves to stop Veidt and Zoltan from converting Michael into a vampire and spreading the curse across the world.

    Albert Band's (director of I Bury The Living) Zoltan: The Hound Of Dracula, also known as Dracula’s Dog, is one of the most unusual takes on the ever-popular Dracula mythos, and also one of the goofiest. The movie has so many plot holes that it's actually pretty funny, frequently so. Despite the presence of some interesting second-string actors, the performances are unremarkable but then, you can't argue with the presence of Michael Pataki and Reggie Nalder, as they both manage to bring that certain something that they had to their respective roles. The rest of the cast is fairly disposable but these two, they're a lot of fun to watch here and that makes it easier than it would have been otherwise to look past the loopy plot and admittedly preposterous ideas behind it all.

    Then there are the so-called ‘special' effects, both visual and audio. When Zoltan, and his small army of vampire dogs, gets agitated their eyes start to glow in the dark. While this was almost certainly intended to be scary, it comes across as ridiculous, never frightening and as more of a novelty than anything else. When the dogs attack, obviously fake ‘doggie paws' tear through car roofs, shacks, and anything else that gets in their way, making the spider attack scene in Fulci's The Beyond look pretty realistic by comparison. On top of this, not only does Veidt seem to sound like a monkey whenever he's in pain, but whenever one of the dogs attacks, the same tape loop of barking and howling is played over and over again to the point where it too becomes absurd, while at the same time somehow adding to the movie's braindead charm.

    While not exactly good in the traditional sense of the word, this low budget schlock-fest does manage to do what it needs to, however, and that is entertain its audience. The cardinal sin any film can commit is to be boring, and Zoltan, for all its many and obvious flaws, is never boring. If you're laughing at the movie rather than with it, it doesn't matter so long as you're having a good time… and Zoltan is, for fans of B-grade horror pictures of the seventies, exactly that.

    Zoltan... Hound of Dracula – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino brings Zoltan: Hound Of Dracula to Blu-ray framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. While the film's low budget roots still shine through, the overall transfer quality on this disc is pretty solid. Detail, depth and texture are all noticeably improved over the 2002 DVD release from Anchor Bay and colors and black levels are stronger as well. We get nice shadow detail, accurate looking skin tones and just a stronger image overall. There's virtually no print damage here at all, the picture is remarkably clean while the transfer retains an appropriately filmic look throughout, showing no noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement problems.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is fine. The track is clean and clear, nicely balanced if understandably limited in range a bit by the original source material. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The main extra on the disc is an interesting audio commentary track from Lee Gambin and John Harrison, who offer a nice balance of trivia and anecdotal information alongside their thoughts on the picture and what works and what doesn't. They do note that the movie takes itself very seriously, but also discuss how some legitimately interesting gothic tropes are worked into the story. Lots of talk here about the cast, particularly Nalder and Pataki, as well as the director, the score, working with the dogs on set, the makeup effects, other ‘killer dog' movies, and quite a bit more.

    Aside from that we get a trailer and a radio spot for the feature, bonus trailers for Jennifer, Deranged, Madhouse, Burnt Offerings, Chosen Survivors, Parasite and Phobia, menus and chapter selection.

    Zoltan... Hound of Dracula - The Final Word:

    Zoltan: Hound Of Dracula has a cult following and it's easy to see why. It's wonky enough to work and it benefits from the presence of some interesting cast members. It's never easy to take the movie seriously but the picture is easily enjoyed on its own strange merits. Kino's Blu-ray release looks and sounds quite nice and the commentary is a good listen. Recommended.

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