“Dracula in Vegas” (1999)

This review is long overdue, so let’s get down to it. Join me as I take a look at perhaps the cheapest vampire movie ever made.

Directed By
Nick Millard

Version Reviewed
Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD ©2017, Region: 1, Standard: NTSC

Total Runtime
~1 hour, 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Synopsis
Eastern Transylvania: a young man named Max (Maximillian Grabinger, director Millard’s teenage nephew-in-law vacationing from Munich) is parked in a car with his girlfriend. Max has a thick German accent. He pronounces vampire “wham-pire”. He’s worried his girlfriend will forget him while he’s away at college in America. She assures him she won’t. “I will give you something to remember me by.” Max insists, sprouting a pair of plastic dollar store vampire fangs. His mouth is already bloody. He lunges at his girlfriend while growling. The shot of him lunging repeats for some reason.

“Max, stop biting me!” the poor girl pleads. Her screams become moans of pleasure, taking the sexual nature of vampirism to a comical level. It sounds like she’s cumming 💦

Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

Max walks in his front door carrying a handful of mail. He bounds up the stairs with a skip in his step. He explains to his dad (comedian Sam Gartner) that he’s been accepted to Harvard, Yale, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. One of those things is not like the other. He can’t decide between Harvard and Yale. His dad informs him he won’t have to; he’s going to Las Vegas because it has 1) an active nightlife, 2) a surplus of beautiful women to feast on. Max reluctantly agrees.

Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

He packs a duffel bag while his mom (Flora Myers), who’s a good twenty/thirty years older than her husband, cries in the corner. She instructs Max to watch out for “cocksuckers” and warns him against biting AIDS-infected whores. Contracting HIV is something a real vampire might have to watch out for. I’m not sure how that would affect them, but I’ve never seen it brought up in a vampire story before, so that’s novel.

Note: there is zero truth to the legend that Nick Millard’s mom, Frances Millard, starred in pornos in her eighties. That was Flora Myers. They’re two different people.

Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

Max arrives in Las Vegas and stops at an airport slot machine.

Millard says from behind the camera “Hey, kid, you’re too young to be playing the machines.”

Max responds “I may look eighteen, but really I am three-hundred years old.” He saunters off and makes his way around town to piano music taken from Millard’s horror film Criminally Insane. He arrives at his dorm (Millard’s bedroom) where he meets roommate Paul, who looks twice his age. Their mattresses are laying on the floor. Max lights a cigarette. Paul asks him where he’s from. Max replies Germany, which is three countries away from Romania where we met him. Paul guarantees he’ll see some wild stuff in Las Vegas. Max says he likes wild stuff. Paul says they’ll get along fine. Fade to black.

Max is now in a classroom of less than ten students. Millard is giving a boring lecture on his favorite author, Ernest Hemingway. Max is busy admiring a blonde. He introduces himself after class. Her name is Christine (April Leigh). She tells him his accent is cute.

Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

Max returns to his dorm room, announcing he’s met the love of his life. Paul warns him that all girls in Las Vegas are gold diggers. The phone rings. It’s Max’s father, reminding him to bite necks.

Max heads to another casino and sets his sights on a waitress. More ambient music from Criminally Insane plays. Max follows his target onto the street, up a stairwell. He spins her around for a nibble. Her screams of “no, no, no” turn to “yes, yes, yes” as he sinks his fangs in deeper.

Cut to Max prancing around a graveyard. He strikes up a conversation with a ghoulish gravedigger, the best actor so far. Max picks up Christine for a picnic. He leads her blindfolded into the cemetery. She is not amused. She tells him it’s too somber a place for a picnic. So, they head somewhere else. Max pulls out a half-empty two-liter of 7up, an apple, a banana, and two wadded-up produce bags I assume contain sandwiches. He says he just really likes cemeteries. Christine tells him there’s a sweetness about him, and leans over to kiss him. They go on a merry-go-round with a bunch of kids. Next thing you know, they’re holding hands in the hallways of UNLV.

[continued below]

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
Max phones home with the news that’s he’s met a wonderful girl and has a 4.0 grade point average. His father is very upset to hear that he’s only bitten one neck. His parents are worried and fly in to check on him. Max picks them up from the airport. His mom voices concern that Christine could have AIDS in the least respectful way possible, spewing lines such as “Her pussy is all worn out!” She commands Max to bite Christine’s neck and get it over with already.

Max creeps up Christine’s stairs to her room where she’s sleeping. Her house looks identical to Max’s back in Germ-vania. He moves in to bite her, but manages to restrain himself. Instead, he just blows her a kiss and then leaves.

Somewhere along the way, Max got a job polishing caskets. His boss tells him it’s time to go home. He works off the clock for another hour because he loves it so much, expressing hope that one day he’ll be promoted to a sales position. That evening, he stalks a third coed around campus, cornering her in a hallway. She doesn’t even scream.

A man-hating feminist type from Max’s Literature class stops by his room to let him know she’ll be keeping an eye on him in regards to the recent attacks. Apparently, she noticed how weird he is. Max trails her to the library and jumps her in one of the aisles. She later shows up on his floor mattress, acting all sexy, begging to be bitten again. Max’s mom drops in while he’s gone and ends up sleeping with Paul.

And she’s out here bad-mouthing whores? Smh.
Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

The spirit of a dead vampire who looks exactly like Max (because it’s Grabinger wearing teashade sunglasses and black lipstick) visits him in a dream with a warning. He says he too fell in love and stopped biting necks. The lack of blood weakened him enough to be killed by a vampire hunter (TJ Fournier). This is shown in flashback. The scene ends with the spirit repeating “You are doomed, doomed, dooooooo-” as the camera zooms in on his mouth. Afterward, the spirit takes up residence under Christine’s bed.

“You’re gonna marry that bitch?”
Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

A woman ascends a staircase, the camera tight on her ass. This is followed by a nearly identical shot of her doing it a second time. She’s a friend of the feminist. She’s heard great things about Max’s neck game. She wants him to bite her. Max obliges.

Toward the end, Max gets a call from his uncle Felonious (comedian Perry Todd), urging him to come to the set of his latest art film. The “set” is a high-end hotel room. The “film” is a porno — 70s footage of two topless women groping some lucky dude’s bulge. The wood panel walls don’t match the hotel’s. The location sound drops out in favor of moaning. It looks like Felonious says “more emotion” and “bravo”. Max points out the obvious, that what he’s watching is porn. Felonious claims the sex is symbolic, allegorical. He admonishes Max for not realizing. “Does your generation even know what a good film is?!” he asks rhetorically. Oh, the irony. I have to believe Millard based the character on himself. Surely, the parallels between them were intentional.

Next, it’s Christine’s turn to blindfold Max. She brings him to a church. When he sees where he is, he runs out the door with limp wrists like Roger the alien.

Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD, Deviant Art user Buffy2ville

The ending is anticlimactic and makes little sense. Max is brought to his knees by the sun and nearly dies in a patch of grass, despite withstanding the sun the whole movie. Christine walks up, revealing herself to be a vampire too. How come she can step foot in sunlight and churches? If you actually expect an answer, I pity you.

_________________________

Nick Millard is a treasure trove of no-budget weirdness. He’s been making movies without money or a high level of talent for six decades now. As I’ve written before, it’s inspiring how he does it his way, on his terms, with no regrets, no matter how bad the outcome. He views his career in three stages — erotica, genre, drama. He likes to say that he started out in the gutter (erotica), stepped up to the curb (action/horror), then stepped up again to the sidewalk (drama). Roughly fifty-seven of his titles have played theatrically and/or been on home video. He’s sitting on at least thirty more that have never seen the light of day. Click here for my list.

Millard is a character too. I interviewed him in 2016 for this blog. Every answer he gave me was typed out in all-caps stream of consciousness. During our correspondence, he asked me if I knew his nephew Royal Farros, who acted in some of his movies. I said no. Immediately after the interview, he threatened me with a lawsuit. Over time, he started believing I was Royal based on my Facebook profile picture of Frank the Cop from Sleepaway Camp. I guess they look similar. In 2019, Millard wished me, i.e. Royal, a happy birthday, except on my profile’s birthday, and in February of this year announced to me he created a whole new film genre he calls the “French Riviera” genre. For context, he lives there. Or did. At some point, he unfriended me. He accepted my subsequent friend request.

He’s eighty-one now. I’m tempted to chalk his erratic behavior up to old age, but the truth is he’s always been odd. He grew up on European art movies, idolizing Federico Fellini, reading everything Hemingway wrote, and somehow turned those experiences into his body of work. He takes himself pretty seriously, considers himself Orson Welles, but his parsimony makes it hard to agree. A decent chunk of his post-erotic filmography was shot in his Pacifica, California home with a camcorder, using folded tinfoil for knives, washcloths for masks, dolls for fetuses, and turkey basters for abortion devices. He often incorporates footage from his previous movies, partly because he is proud of them, but mostly to pad the runtimes.

His movies are, well, they’re not “good” by traditional standards, but I find them strangely addicting. I’ve gotten countless hours of entertainment out of them, so, in that sense, Nick Millard is a great filmmaker.

The idea for Dracula in Vegas came about when he took Grabinger to see the Bonnie and Clyde death car in Primm (formerly State Line), Nevada. Grabinger asked if they could make a movie where he played a young Clyde. To avoid the 105-degree heat, Millard instead wrote a vampire story he could shoot mostly at night — his second, after Satan’s Black Wedding.

It was shot on video in model homes without permission on Monday mornings “when no one was there except the receptionist” and guerilla-style around town. The stake Bizarro Spirit World Max is killed with in flashback was snapped off an election sign Millard ordered his nephew to steal out of a yard because, by his own admission, he didn’t want to spend three or four bucks on a piece of wood. The fangs are the kind you receive from a capsule vending machine for being well-behaved at the supermarket.

Notice how there are no back teeth.
Credit: Olive Films/Slasher // Video DVD

The special effects consist of fake blood. There is zero suspense. Millard describes Dracula in Vegas as a black comedy. It was obviously meant to be funny and self-satirizing. I almost get the impression that just this once, Millard wanted us to laugh at it, not with it. Almost.

The acting, as usual, is interesting. What Grabinger and Gartner (the dad) lack in skill, they make up for in enthusiasm. Leigh, on the other hand, is so stilted, she may have been held at gunpoint. Myers’ hypocritical slut-shaming dialogue is hilarious in how unexpectedly vulgar it is. Could her AIDS talk and Max’s struggle to stop giving strange women orgasms be an overt pre-It Follows commentary on the dangers of casual sex? I doubt it.

Overall, this glorified home movie is fun — not as hypnotic as Death Nurse or Butcher Knife, but fun nonetheless. To enjoy it, you have to possess an appreciation for SOV horror allowing you look past its low-res picture, tracking lines, missing audio, and other technical shortcomings. You must also lower your expectations. No judgment here, but if your idea of a good time is the latest addition to the Conjuring Cinematic Universe™, Dracula in Vegas will suck the life out of you.

To be honest, it’s a tad underwhelming. The thought of watching an unattainable movie is always more exciting than actually doing it. Dracula in Vegas was only released on VHS once in a very limited quantity by the mail-order company Incredibly Strange Filmworks, based out of Jamestown, Missouri. Until its August, 2017 DVD release by Slasher // Video, it was so mythically rare, I couldn’t find a single review on the web. There were two user “reviews” on IMDb, but they didn’t offer any details and in my opinion were written as jokes without having seen the movie.

Slasher // Video was an awesome boutique label. They put out six or seven DVDs, then partnered with Olive Films to put them back out with new artwork. From there, they released a few more. Their 2-disc special edition of Boardinghouse is exploding with special features. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the gold standard by which to compare DVDs. Their catalogue includes four of Nick Millard’s titles — this, Death Nurse, it sequel Death Nurse 2, and The Cemetery Sisters. I can’t thank Slasher // Video enough for introducing me to them.

“It was all because of Death Nurse.” owner Jesus Teran told me in 2017. “The way it happened was back in 2009, a video store had a lot of rare titles and it closed down all of a sudden. My girlfriend at the time told me about it, so I went there to buy all the films I could get. Death Nurse was in my pile of VHSs to buy. After getting home with about 100 or so movies that night, it wasn’t there. Someone took it from my pile. I tried finding it online, but whenever it came up on eBay, it ended up being $275 or more. I decided to find out who to contact to get the distribution rights and in 2011, I acquired them.

I’m not afraid to release what I know will not make any money back, or possibly break even at best. A lot of companies will not touch what I release because it’s not on 35mm/16mm, or they won’t work with Beta Sp., etc. I feel that if a movie only has a specific element available to work with, it is more important to put it out than to never have it released. That would mean Shock ‘Em Dead, Victims!, and a few others I’m working on at the moment go unreleased. I don’t care for that snobbish attitude.”

Sadly, it seems Slasher // Video is no longer in business. Their website is down and their Facebook page hasn’t been updated since December of 2019, right before the world caught fire. Their final release was the exploitation throwback Streets of Vengeance. They never did get to Victims!.

Extra features for Dracula in Vegas include commentary with Nick and Irmgard Millard moderated by Jesus Teran, an interview with the Millards (17:56), a photo gallery, and a trailer.

Body Count
Everybody who’s bitten turns into a vampire, and the dead vampire lives on as a ghost, so… 0.

Bod Count
2 pairs of breasts.

Overall Enjoyability
3 stolen election signs out of 5.

I Got My Copy From
Amazon.com.

Recommendations
A Polish Vampire in Burbank (1983)

Did Nick Millard’s Mother Really Do Porn?

There’s been a rumor online for years now that cult filmmaker Nick Millard’s mother, Frances Millard, also went by the name Flora Myers and starred in such pornos as Hey, My Grandma Is a Whore 8 (2002) and Granny Takes a Tinkle (2000) as “Gigi” and “Granny Gigi”. Movie critics have fun working it into their write-ups because it makes for a great piece of trivia. They present the rumor as fact, but if any of them did even the slightest bit of research, they’d know it’s not true for the simple reason that Frances Millard and Flora Myers/Gigi are two different people.

If you’re not familiar with Nick Millard’s opus Death Nurse, have a scroll through my site.

Frances Millard produced and acted in several of her son’s movies, from 1975 to about 1988 in California. When Nick moved to Las Vegas in 1996, Flora took up the mantle, producing and acting in more of his micro-budget madness. Nick knew Flora through her husband Doug, who I’m guessing had passed away by this time because… uh, well, you know… she was doing all that porn.

In the audio commentary for Death Nurse, Nick identifies this woman as Frances, his mom.

“If you don’t take me to Mr. Davis and Mr. Bedowski, I’ll call social services.”
Credit: Death Nurse, Slasher // Video DVD

In the audio commentary for Dracula in Vegas, Nick identifies this woman as Flora. He calls her his best friend and speaks highly of her. He says that she was a former burlesque stripper who went after men half her age. At one point, he stops himself from divulging something about her and says “I’d better not get too racy here.” He also admits to being surprised that she didn’t get naked on camera, which all but confirms she was Gigi for me.

“You’d better be careful with these young girls. They fuck around too much.”
Credit: Dracula in Vegas, Slasher // Video DVD

Just to be sure, though, I Googled “Granny Gigi porn actress”. Take it from me, it’s not a pretty sight. Doing so brought up penis-killing pictures of a woman who closely resembles Flora Myers. This DVD cover seems to support Nick’s assertion that she was a dancer. If the black & white photo on the left is authentic, it’s from ~1936.

Credit: Adultdvdempire.com

As you can see, a strong case can be made that Flora Myers was Gigi, but not that either were Frances. They look nothing alike. So why were they ever mixed up? And why do they share an IMDb page?

Yikes!
Credit: IMDb

I think the confusion stems from an article written on Flora in which she referred to Nick as her “son”. I can only assume that she meant she thought of Nick as her son. Or maybe the writer just jumped to conclusions. If I recall correctly, the article was linked in a post on the IMDb message boards, which obviously don’t exist anymore. I read it once and haven’t been able to locate it since using Google and newspapers.com. If anyone knows where to find it, please leave a comment or send me an email by filling out the “contact” form at the top. One detail I do remember is that it mentions a nonexistent movie called “Mother of the Vampire” — most likely a bungled reference to 1999’s Dracula in Vegas.

It doesn’t help the situation that trusted sources, like the DVD label that puts out Nick Millard’s movies for crying out loud, propagate the misinfo as often as random bloggers do. I mean, c’mawn man.

Did they even watch the movie they paid for?
Credit: Olivefilms.com

As far as I’m concerned, this rumor should be be laid to rest. Let this be a lesson to all of us not to believe everything that we read on the internet, and to double-check our facts before posting something sensational.

Edith Gets Sloppy

Dennis Nilsen killed fifteen young men. He reasoned that he did so out of loneliness, but we’ll never really know why. His favorite thing to do was bathe his victims’ bodies and lay next to them naked, fantasizing that he was dead too. He kept them under his floorboards, and burned them when they started to smell. Toward the end of his murder spree, Nilsen moved and no longer had access to a backyard to burn them, so he took to cutting them up and flushing the parts down his toilet. Killing people is never wise to begin with, but that’s just plain stupid. His plumbing inevitably stopped working. The hardest part to believe is what he did next… wrote a strongly worded letter to his landlord insisting that his plumbing be fixed. The serviceman who responded found bones and hunks of human flesh in the manhole beside Nilsen’s flat. He set them on a ledge and made what I’m sure was an awkward call to his supervisor. Nilsen played dumb. He suggested that someone had flushed their Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then, after everyone left, and before detectives arrived the next morning, he climbed in and removed the material himself, which only aroused more suspicion. He died a few months ago, having served over 35 years in prison.

Like a handsomer Stephen King.

The self-professed BTK killer, Dennis Rader, would have gone to his grave unidentified if it weren’t for his ego. He strangled, asphyxiated, and stabbed ten people from 1974 to 1991, then dropped off the radar completely, “sleeping” for thirteen long years while he raised a family and worked 9 to 5 as a code enforcer. He never stopped craving attention, though, and emerged from the shadows in 2004 to play games with police. During this time, he asked if his whereabouts could be traced from a floppy disk. The cops lied and said no. He took the people whose job it was to arrest him at their word and sent one to a local TV station. The disk was traced to his church; it contained data that said something to the effect of “last modified by: Dennis”. He was picked up in pretty short order. He’s serving 175 years in prison.

One of WWE’s most controversial storylines.

My point is that bad people who do stupid things usually reap what they sow, especially when their names are Dennis.

Edith Mortley from the Death Nurse duology conforms to this paradigm and gives those two nincompoop killers a run for their money. She’s gotta be a contender for stupidest slasher villain in horror movie history.

Her motive is simple — cheddar. I don’t mean cheese. She’s an insurance scammer. Her and her mad doctor brother run an all-purpose medical center called Shady Palms Clinic out of their home. Edith stabs to death everyone who shows up within hours of their arrival, then bills their insurance for months of imaginary treatment. She’s mindful enough not to overcharge the insurance companies (for example, she only charges $2,750 for a $4,000 “surgery”), but her hobby gets away from her in a hurry. She kills a county social worker, a health inspector and a police lieutenant (the latter on her porch in broad daylight) to cover up what she’s done. These are the kinds of people who raise flags when they’re missing. And they do. Other people come looking for them. Edith’s alibi? It’s a good one. She advised her patients to move to Arizona, as if anyone could or would pick up and move on a whim cos a random nurse told them to.

You’re right, all that dry air and sun will be good for my health. I have tens of thousands of dollars stashed away, and a job won’t be that hard to find. I’ll do it.

I should have planned this out better.
Credit: Death Nurse 2, Slasher // Video DVD

She never really comes up with an alibi for the other victims. Her biggest mistake is feeding the diced-up cadavers to her pet rats Harold and Desmond, who she allows to roam freely, uncaged, in her home. The rats (or “longtails” as she affectionately refers to them) come and go from the house and in doing so scatter bloody bits of remains across the front lawn. A second police officer, this time a sergeant, has the bits analyzed and returns to arrest the sociopathic siblings. Even though he’s alone, they go without a fight. Game over.

I’m struggling to think of another slasher villain who brings about their undoing in a more brainless way. Can you think of any? What about real-life killers? Leave a comment below.

I love Death Nurse Parts 1 & 2. I still revisit them every so often. There’s always something new to pick up on or contemplate. It looks like they’re out of print now. Grab your copies from Ebay or wherever else you can before they start going for ungodly prices.

Credit: Facebook