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Review: Hawthorne House Films’ “Dracula’s Coffin”

Honestly, Dracula’s Coffin is the closest thing you’ll find to a Hammer Film thriving in 2019, and I’m absolutely here for it. A Hawthorne House Film shot in association with Barton CT Productions, Dracula’s Coffin is an amazingly enthralling mix of 80’s nostalgia, classic characters, erotica and camp. Written by director Stephen Wolfe and Tim Robinson, Dracula’s Coffin finds a descendant of the most notorious vampire hunter, Abe Van Helsing, as he enlists the help of a small town youth to house-sit while he travels on business. Not long after Abe leaves for the night, the call of evil becomes too much for the young woman watching the home, and the greatest vampire of all time picks up right where he left off. Produced by Stephen Wolfe, Tim Robinson and executive producer PJ Starks, this short film stars Sarah Pohl, Tim Robinson, Matt Baca, Daphne Gabriel, Ashley Nief and Justin Herman. Find it screening as part of The GenreBlast Film Festival in Winchester, Virginia on August 31st 2019, which also happens to be its official world premiere.

One of the first things that struck me about Dracula’s Coffin is that it’s paced so well that you get a feature length story in the course of 26 minutes. There’s a definite beginning, middle and end, and boy, did I love the ending. I’m happy that Dracula’s Coffin was filmed as a short project because trying to draw it out more would have severely damaged its overall quality. The fact that Stephen Wolfe and Tim Robinson give viewers an hour and a half worth of content in 26 minutes is a statement to how good their script is, and how wise they are working behind the scenes. The second thing that struck me about Dracula’s Coffin is the characterization of Abe Van Helsing and Dracula; in this depiction, they’re kind of washed up and just blundering around. I love that the heroics and villainous antics were toned down and play into the comedic aspects that feed on the edges of this movie. It’s a different take on these iconic characters that horror fans aren’t used to seeing, and personally, I loved seeing them in this light (or lack there of).

Speaking of the comedy, Dracula’s Coffin contains one laugh out loud moment that genuinely had me in stitches. It’s hard to do a horror-comedy because it’s so easy to go over the top with the gags, but Stephen Wolfe and Tim Robinson tackled this problem beautifully and walked away with one of the best horror-comedies of 2019. Its use of subtle and dry humor really hit the nail on the head. But that doesn’t mean that Dracula’s Coffin is low on horror, either. Surprisingly, the body count is high for a short film of this caliber and there’s a few scenes of heinous bloodshed. Coupled with the 80’s vibes, styles and themes, Dracula’s Coffin has a massive appeal to horror fans who find their favorite movies existing in the 70’s and 80’s. Dracula’s Coffin features cinematography by Connor Colebrook, production design by Michelle Zeilner and editing by John Dejesus. Everyone who worked behind-the-scenes did a fantastic job on making sure the aesthetics matched the story. Well done, team!

An unsuspecting nightmare that’ll turn your stomach with chills and thrills, Dracula’s Coffin meshes the best of both worlds and delivers a vampire film that Hammer fans will die for. A campy, gaudy, bloody journey into darkness, Dracula’s Coffin is easily one of the best horror-comedies of 2019. I urge you to check it out if it’s screening at a film festival near you. Final Score: 9 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)