Il cav. Costante Nicosia demoniaco ovvero: Dracula in Brianza, internationally released as Dracula in the Provinces; Bite Me, Count and Young Dracula, is a 1975 Italian feature film directed by Lucio Fulci (Zombie Flesh Eaters; The Beyond; The New York Ripper).
Several writers contributed to what is clearly a ribald comedy rather than a horror movie: Pupi Avati (Macabre), Mario Amendola, Bruno Corbucci (Django), Enzo Jannacci and Giuseppe Viola.
Il Cavaliere Costante Nicosia (Lando Buzzanca) is the owner of Italy’s most successful toothpaste company and enjoys all the trappings there-in, including a beautiful wife, Mariu (Sylva Koscina, Lisa and the Devil), from whom he inherited the firm, and a mistress, Liu (Christa Linder, 1980’s Alien 2: On Earth).
Though he adopts a bullying management style, he holds very superstitious beliefs, regularly rubbing the hump of his hunchbacked assistant, Peppino (Antonio Allocca) for good luck and coercing his virgin housemaid to urinate over the remains of a broken mirror to cancel out the impending bad luck.
Events take an even more peculiar twist when on a business trip to Romania, he makes the acquaintance of Count Dragalescu (John Steiner, Shock; Tenebrae) who suggests a visit to his castle.
When Nicosia learns his meeting has been cancelled, he takes up the offer but after a sedate beginning, the weekend gets rather friskier, the Count preferring to dine in the au naturelle alongside a bevvy of similarly disrobed revellers.
A surfeit of booze leads to him passing out and, upon awakening, he finds himself in bed alongside the Count. Unclear what he has missed whilst out cold, he returns home but soon fears that the Count may have had his wicked way with him, leaving him ‘infected’ with gay tendencies.
After visiting his doctor for advice, he finds sucking the blood of his mistress controls his urges but he craves to return to his previous life and visits both his Great Aunt (whose earlier curse he now takes very seriously) and the Magician of Noto (Ciccio Ingrassia, The Exorcist: Italian Style) in Sicily for help. The obviously phoney sage tells him the curse on him will be lifted only if he re-employs his brother-in-law.
Nicosia leaves, where it’s revealed to the viewers that the whole thing was a deliberate stunt organised by his in-laws into tricking Nicosia into giving his brother-in-law’s job back. Returning home far from being cured, he responds to his needy wife’s sexual advances by plunging his fang-like teeth into her bare bottom during foreplay.
Nicosia returns to his bullish habits, re-firing his brother-in-law and surrounding himself with prostitutes, to keep himself availed of blood.
This soon leads to even grander designs, essentially turning the toothpaste factory into a blood bank, into which all his employees must donate, willingly or otherwise. He is overjoyed when his wife arrives one day with his new-born son, which he takes to mean he is once again virile and heterosexual. However, when he peeks into the pram, he’s in for a surprise…
To put this into an even more perverse context, Fulci made this film straight after the ferocious violence of Four of the Apocalypse and Avati shortly before contributing his writing skills to Passolini’s Salo. Less surprising are the depths to which Italian comedy would stoop: most easily offended groups are catered for.
Fulci was no stranger to comedy, this film coming just three years after the better-known The Eroticist and in typical fashion fills the film with rather more than the traditional low-level laughs, with crude nods at Marxism (Nicosia literally sucking the blood of his employees) and an actually quite effective take on the familiar vampire film traits.
Ilona Staller (soon-to-be renamed Cicciolina) appears in a small role, though there are no sightings of female names more readily associated with the naughty comedy genre, such as Edwige Fenech or Gloria Guida – the jaunty score comes courtesy of Bixio-Frizzi-Tempera. Not as knockabout or as crass as the plot or its contemporaries would suggest, this is indeed a curiosity for both vampire fans and followers of Lucio Fulci.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA
“Young Dracula treats its bigoted lead character contemptuously, and yet – by using the macho male’s image of the simpering, vampiristic homosexual as a demon to taunt the man – it flirts with bad taste in a way that sours the comedy elements. Ultimately I don’t think of this film as a homophobic exercise, as some writers have done, but its combination of fantastical satire and mundane comedy-of-manners is unsuccessful.” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci