Vampires in Havana – Cuba, 1985

 

VampiresInHavana_screenprint_Cuba_Bachs-1-500x741

¡Vampiros en La Habana! – English title: Vampires in Havana – is a 1985 Cuban animated feature film directed by Juan Padrón. The movie features trumpet performances by Arturo Sandoval.

A belated sequel to the film, called Más vampiros en La Habana, was released in 2003.

Joseph Amadeus von Dracula, known as Pepito to his friends, is a trumpet player in 1930s Havana who spends his time away from the bandstand dabbling in quasi-terrorist plots to overthrow the Cuban government of dictator, Gerardo Machado.

Pepito is unaware that he is really a vampire, and that his uncle, Werner Amadeus von Dracula, the son of Count Dracula, has been using him as a test subject for a formula that negates the usually fatal effects of sunlight.

vampiresinhavana_theprofessor

A Chicago-based crime syndicate and a group of vampires with members from several countries in Europe have both learned of the formula and wish to possess it for different reasons—the Chicago group to suppress it and thus maintain their monopoly on indoor, artificial beach resorts, and the Europeans to market it as “Vampisol.”

When Pepito learns of his true heritage (and his uncle’s wish to give the formula away to vampires everywhere) he becomes the target of a multi-pronged manhunt, leading all parties involved on a wild chase through some of the seediest neighborhoods of Havana…

vih group

Reviews:

“The animation and sexual themes at work in the film make the Ralph Bakshi comparisons inevitable. These elements also stand to make some viewers less comfortable because the idea of innocuous characterizations was not a part of the crafting here. Generalized ethnic phenotypes are taken to the extreme and female characters spend as much time naked as clothed.” Bloody Good Horror

2prinap

“It’s all very hip, with takeoffs on gangster-movie types and Latin lovers, but the animation is nothing special and many of the jokes are standard crash-and-splat stuff. The exceptions, such as the toasts drunk in vintage O-Plus blood, tend to be repeated. The freshest turn shows an audience of cartoon figures being scared by human beings on a movie screen…” Walter Goodman, The New York Times

“Cuba is a tiny little island that just wants to get by and it is caught in the games being played between the European and American powers. The film makes this obvious in its first ten or so minutes, and it repeats this commentary for the rest of its run time. Maybe the commentary is true, but that doesn’t make the commentary poignant or well done” Bill Thompson, Sight on Sound