Ken Johnson – Zoltan, Hound Of Dracula
Posted by demonik on July 25, 2007
Ken Johnson – Zoltan, Hound Of Dracula (Everest, 1977)
Now a major EMI film
When the dust of the explosion died down, the soldiers realised they had uncovered an ancient grave.
The Dreadful thing that escaped from the damaged coffin looked like a dog.
Its search for a master took it from Central Europe to California – and an ordinary couple on a camping holiday with their children and their beautiful puppy dogs.
There was nothing special about the couple: except that Paul’s grandmother had changed the family name to Drake from Dracula …
Transylvania, 1977: The army are training in the mountains when a stray shell unearths a vault wherein lie the coffins of the Dracula family plus two others. One of these contains Veidt Smit (1630-1670), the loyal servant of the infamous vampire Count *ahem* Igor Dracula, the other is unmarked. Captain Gheorghita immediately orders a suspension to the detonation fun and leaves young Private Laszlo to guard the site overnight while he gets in touch with the experts. Laszlo gets bored and prizes the lid off the mystery coffin as he’s only ever seen the corpse of his father and he’d like to make comparisons. There’s a dirty great lump of wood stuck through the body so he gets rid of that first …. and out jumps this massive blood-lusting Doberman Pinscher, Zoltan!
Zoltan makes short work of the soldier and then sniffs about the coffin for his master. First he frees Smit, drawing the stake from his mummified remains with his jaws, but before they can revive Count Igor, the entire vault collapses and they have to abandon the old fiend and struggle to safety.
The next day, the aforementioned vampire expert, Inspector Branco arrives. Captain Gheorghita is no respecter of hocus pocus mumbo jumbo but Branco makes a favourable impression on Major Hesse, “a stocky, brusque-mannered woman in her thirties [who] seemed deliberately to have hidden her natural attractiveness under her army hat ….Captain Gheorghita could not help wondering how she would look with a trace of makeup, a modest decolletage and a pair of more feminine shoes than the standard army brogues she wore.”
While Captain Gheorghita is letting his imagination wander, a bunch of rhubarbing peasants have showed up. After a brief consultation its decided to burn all the Dracula’s and poor Laszlo to cheer them up otherwise they’ll go into their usual superstitious frenzy. With the stench of roasted flesh still fresh in his nostrils, Branco gets down to work. He immediately deduces that Vlad Smit is a fractual lamia, “someone only part-vampire … unlike their masters, they can function in the daytime. They can be trusted to find victims. And more important, they have no craving for blood.” So servile are these fractual lamia that “they cannot exist without a master”.
Major Hesse is relieved to learn this as there are no Dracula’s left for Smit to pamper, but Branco is one step ahead and rattles off the name and address of Michael Drake in Los Angeles, a non-vampire who fled the old country as a child for his own safety. Smit, who’s been hiding in the shadows all along, gleefully jots this down and makes preparations for he and the demon dog’s journey to the USA ….
“The full moon lay reflected in the lake and threw its bright silver beams over the half-tones of the woods and grassy slopes. Once again cicadas and night insects set up their continuous chorus. Out by the gnarled old tree, there eventually came a much fainter, more unusual sound. Beneath the low, circular mound of earth where the family had buried the puppy, there was a persistent scratching noise, like that of some burrowing creature.
It grew more and more agitated until eventually, the soil around the top of the mound began to undulate and crumble away. Then, out from the earth stirred a whitish shape, coated in damp deposits of mud, which wriggled and writhed until from it struggled the tiny head of the Drakes’ puppy. The little creature struggled for a moment to free its back legs, then crawled unsteadily forward, away from the mound. As the moonlight fell upon the animal’s face, its eyes were dull and vacant, yet open wide, almost as they had appeared in death. Slowly, it half-stumbled, half-crawled into the undergrowth of the forest.”
The remainder of the book takes place in America, specifically Lake Arrowhead where Drake, his wife Marla and the kids have set off for vacation accompanied by their German Shepherds Samson and Annie and a litter of pups. Hot on their trail are Smit and Zoltan. Smit reveals himself to be a master-brain as, no sooner does he arrive in the States than he steals a hearse which he intuitively knows how to drive. It’s hardly an inconspicuous mode of transport, but the coffin comes in handy for Zoltan during the daytime. Sadly, we don’t hear any more about Major Sensible Shoes, but Branco shows up armed with a bag of stakes ….