Review by Mike Finkelstein
I will admit that I feel weird reviewing porn films on this site. I wouldn't say I draw a line at reviewing Rated X films completely (that's the rating for Re-Animator and no one would argue that film is porn), but there's a line where a film stops being about story or characters or horror and just becomes about getting off. Sexcula is certainly in the latter category, a skin flick produced in Canada designed specifically as porn. There's no getting around that.
So why review it, then? I liked the name. That's literally the only reason I even bothered picking up the film -- it had a goofy name -- I'd hoped that it would have something more to it than just sex and nudity. Sadly, it didn't. It's odd, really, because there's an early setup that makes you think the producers were going to craft a pardoy film, something that poked at the Hammer films (and other, European-produced horror movies), just adding nudity and sex in as well. I certainly wouldn't have minded that. Pretty quickly, though, the film gives up any thoughts about being anything other than porn and the film quickly falls apart.
The setup is that two lovers, "Picnic Woman" (Debbie Collins) and "Picknic Man" (David F. Hurry), have gone to the woman's old family estate just to explore the grounds. While there they discover the journal of her ancestor, the Countess Sexcula (also played by Debbie Collins). They then spend the afternoon reading the journal (while she lounges around naked, because this is porn), learning about one of Sexcula's exploits, reading about her many adventures, and imagining lots and lots of sex.
It seems the countess (who may have been a vampire although the movie never shows her doing anything vampiric), was called in to aid a scientist, Dr. Fallatingstein (Jamie Orlando), to assist in a problem the mad doctor is having with her newest creation, Frank (John Alexander). Frank, while in other other respects a properly made and functioning man, cannot get aroused. Sexcula does everything she can, using all her ideas and innumerable sexual wiles, to try and assist Frank with his condition. Frank, though, never seems interested in sex. What's a countess to do?
It's hard to say who this film is exactly for, honestly. Sex and horror go together, make no mistake, and it's something Hammer knew. There's a reason so many of the old Hammer films feature plenty of nudity within them (sometimes even hiring Playboy Playmates for lead roles, such as in Twins of Evil). A film with gratuitious nudity can still be a winner in the horror community so long as there's a story attached to it. There's isn't a story, though, in this film. It's not a story-based movie, but a porn flick with a thin, connective story to shift us between pornographic vingettes.
It's weird, because parts of the film really want to emphasize the plot over the porn. The film has that prologue (and continuing framing device) establishing the young lovers finding the journal and learning about the Countess. This storyline, though, is comnpletely dropped at the end without any explanation of its inclusion. The fact that Debbie Collis plays both the young lover and COuntess Sexcula is also never explained -- nothing about if she's actually the countess, still alive, or how this all relates to the flashbacks with the countess and Frank. It's just kind of there. The film doesn't even have a real ending, instead just cutting to a short of Frank at the end as he explains a bit of the story and then just moves on.
The film is also hardly a complete movie at all. Half way into the film the low-budget horror sets are tossed aside for a sequence where a porn crew films a wedding orgy. It's hastily stiched in (with an explanation that Sexcula shows up, off camera, cuts the power and then steals "sex cells" from the lovers so she can try and get Frank hard) and it's pretty obvious this whole sequence was filmed for a different movie, never used, and then put in here just to save time and money. It has no real bearing on anything else in the movie, even though, for no good reason, the film keeps cutting back to the orgy even after it's fulfilled whatever tenuous connection it had to the plot.
Viewed from the perspective of this being a "real movie", Sexcula is an absolute mess. But, as a porn film it's really not much better. The sex is, to put it bluntly, not sexy. The director clearly had only a couple of things he wanted to stars to do -- give head, then have sex -- and he has them do it over and over again, in the same order, often repeatedly in a single long scene. These sequences go on forever, are shot from the worst angles, and do nothing to make what's going on between all these lovers seem interesting or fun. It's dull and bland sex, which is the opposite of what you expect to see in porn.
The film doesn't even know if it wants the sex to be sexy, though, as it often cuts away from the sex to do funny reaction shots, or it'll add in a weird sequence that's 100% strange and goofy. One of the most famous shots in the film (with "famous" being a relative term) is of an erotic dancer who is brought into the lab to give Frank a show. A gorilla, who has been hanging out in past lab sequence, caged, comes out and dances with the woman before they simulate sex and then kill each other. Then it's revealed it was all a show and they take a bow. Is this funny? It's certainly surreal, a bizarre sequence included, like so many others in this movie, for no real reason. It's just kind of there, then the film shrugs and moves on to the next unsexy moment.
When it was first made the various producers were shocked to discover they'd financed a porn film. It came out to very little fanfare and then, soon after, most prints of the film were destroyed. It was only recently (2004) that the film was rediscovered and released for audiences to see. Sadly the best part of the film is it's name, an amusing portmanteau of Sex and Dracula. That is the height of this film's creativity and the last time the film really invests in its production. EVerything about this is cheap, slapped together, and bad. I wanted to be amused, or find some kind of engagement, with Sexcula, but it fails on all fronts. In the end, I think maybe this film should have stayed lost.