Dracenstein (2005)

Director Tom Priestley & Bill Flowers
Writers Tom Priestley & Bill Flowers
Starring Bill Flowers, Tom Priestley, Gary Bissland
Genre Animation
Run Time (minutes) 6.26

Talk us through it

In the wilds of Tasmania a Mad Scientist visits a local parish priest to confess his sins. Apparently the Scientist has been following in god's footsteps by trying to create life, all he needs is a healthy brain to complete his science project. After being absolved of his mortal sins, and being admonished to keep his hands outside the bed sheets for a week, the Scientist heads back to the lab to see what's on the slab. On the way home through a freaky looking forest our budding Frankenstein is waylaid by none other than Dracula! Thankfully the Scientist was carrying an umbrella, and look out sports fans he now has a healthy brain. So what happens when a re-animated Frankenstein monster has the brain of Count Dracula? We may be needing a Priest of the kicking arse for the Lord variety!

Ready to check out strange scientific experiments of the Taswegian variety?


"Stop you spawn of Satan's dark testicle" - Father Rice

Dracenstein is shot in MiniDV, normally a format that drives adult horror fans into fits of sweating terror, but which surprisingly works like a brought thing for Tom Priestley and Bill Flowers' energetic and totally unique short. Further shocks wait the unwary with the short being animated via the use of cardboard cut outs in a sort of bizarre puppet style of movie making. If Nick Park is the master of claymation as witness by Wallace and Gromit, then Priestly and Flowers are the masters of "cardboardmation" on the evidence of Dracenstein. This short movie rocks, let's break it down and twist it all around.

Firstly the script, also by the Priestly Flowers team, is simply superb. It mixes in enough Frankenstein and Dracula mythology to keep even the most discerning horror fan happy, then mixes it all up to new purpose, and adds the king island dressing in the form of some well thought out puns and jokes. You can't help but smile if not out right laugh during the six and a half minutes that Dracenstein runs for. Be warned however there's one hell of a "so bad it's good" pun coming at you in the final seconds, if you love "punny" business then this one is going to have you giving a standing ovation.

Visually the short is actually pretty impressive, loved the backdrops used throughout to stunning effect. Basically the film makers are using cardboard puppets in front of static painted backgrounds, for those who want to be technical. The characters are of the "nave" school of painting, but there's some awe inspiring artwork going down. The Mad Scientist is truly demented, check the blood shot eyes, the Priest means business, if the Wallabies need a new prop look no further, and the monster had me turning that frown upside down. There's some added touches with what looks like either animation or CGI tinkering post production. Don't be surprised if you forget the medium that Dracenstein is shot in, the short marches to a crazy beat and the visuals drag you in.

The outstanding artwork tends to add a demise that would be otherwise missing, you have to love people that can capture truely demented and then throw it at an audience!

Tom Priestley and Bill Flowers are pretty effective behind the camera with the short being a lot more interesting than it would have been in less profession hands. Close ups are using effectively, once again the Mad Scientist's eyes are a highlight, and the Directors are prepared to toy with the odd angle change. Dracenstein at no stage evolves into a static frontal look, with Priestley and Flowers managing to make things look like they have been shot using multiple cameras at different elevations and angles.

How the heck they got the ultimate show down between the kick arse Priest and the Monster to work remains a mystery. For lovers of wrestling dig on in there, it's the ultimate grudge match yo!

Bill Flowers (Father Rice) lays down a broad Aussie accent that's just perfect for the role, wonder if they all sound like that down Tasmania way? Tom Priestley gets to voice Dracenstein, which I guess is the monster and that's going to cause debate amongst the horror intellectuals. However top award goes to Gary Bissland (Mad Scientist) who lays down the best Eastern European accent since Bela Lugosi was wowing them in the aisles.

Tom Priestley supplied the soundtrack which was more than interesting. You get some drum beats but mainly what sounds like a harpsichord inspired sound. Guess you can create that via a modern keyboard and some talent.

Dracenstein is available hopefully below, if I can get the tags to work, or can be viewed on either YouTube or via Off Planet Films' website Click Through. Note there's also a DVD available from Planet Films that looks to be a pretty solid investment for Australian film fans everywhere. (Editor's Note: the short is also available on the ScaryMinds blog, see the Blogula link).

ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...

I simply love this short, you'll love it, your dog will love it.