Billed as “The First Rock and Roll Dracula Movie”, Son of Dracula was a project close to the heart of former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr (he produced it for Apple Films) who brought director Freddie Francis onboard when the concept was titled Count Downe.
American singer Harry Nilsson is Count Downe, the son of Count Dracula (Dan Meaden) who arrives in England to be crowned “the Overlord of the Underworld” by Merlin the Magician (Ringo Starr), who is friend, assistant and head astrologer to the Count.
But the Count is distracted both by his rock band, The Count Downes – with members including Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, guitarist Peter Frampton and The Who’s drummer Keith Moon – and by a woman called Amber (Suzanna Leigh) who he falls in love with.
Downe seeks out old family nemesis Van Helsing (Dennis Price) hoping he can make him mortal but doesn’t reckon with the scheming Baron Frankenstein (Freddie Jones) who has his eye on the Overlord title for himself.
Van Helsing ultimately performs the operation and removes Downe’s fangs, informing the Count that he can now live out his days in the sunlight, with Amber at his side.
It’s something of a minor curiosity – an attempt at a comedic modern-day vampire story that is most notable for its eccentric casting and pop soundtrack (predominantly by Nilsson), including a performance of Nilsson’s hit single Daybreak.
The script is little more than a collection of tedious jokes, muddled plotting and dodgy logic. The direction is dull and uninspired. The performances are uniformly terrible (the central performances are so terrible that they render the film virtually unwatchable and old hands like Dennis Price and Freddie Jones look suitably embarrassed throughout).
The shoot was chaotic, with Freddie Francis having to deal with too many rock star egos and an anarchic attitude on the set that resulted in him being ordered to take a rest by his doctor.
Washing his hands of the whole affair he left post-production in the hands of Ringo and, when interviewed many years later, expressed some surprise that the film had been finished at all.
Nilsson would later claim he considered the script “awful” but took the part for the chance to work with close friend Ringo Starr.
Dr Van Helsing
Shakira Caine (as Shakira Baksh)
Woman in Black
Pamela Conway (as Lorna Wilde)
The Count Downes