Berlin Flashback: In 1974, Udo Kier Stalked Virgins in 'Blood for Dracula'

Everett Collection
Udo Kier in 1974's 'Blood for Dracula,' the companion film to 1973's 'Flesh for Frankenstein'

Kier has a connection to this year's fest, as well: He appears in 'M — A City Hunts a Murderer,' a new TV series based on the 1931 Fritz Lang film that starred Peter Lorre as a serial killer of children.

Udo Kier has forged a singular career as a cult-movie staple. All told, the Cologne, Germany-born actor, 74, has appeared in more than 200 films, spanning everything from art house fare (he played a wedding planner in Lars von Trier’s 2011 film Melancholia) to campy, low-budget splatter flicks (like 2018’s Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) to mainstream Hollywood blockbusters like 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and 1998’s Armageddon.

Along the way, he’s been no stranger to the Berlin International Film Festival, having most recently appeared there in 2018 in support of Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. (Kier has been in most of Van Sant’s films since they first worked together on 1991’s My Own Private Idaho.) The actor has a connection to this year’s fest, as well, as he appears in M — A City Hunts a Murderer, a new TV series based on the 1931 Fritz Lang film that starred Peter Lorre as a serial killer of children.

It’s hard to believe all of this started with a chance airplane flight in the early 1970s. Seated next to Kier was Paul Morrissey, the filmmaker who worked hand-in-hand with Andy Warhol at the legendary Factory. Familiar with Kier’s work in 1970’s Mark of the Devil — a horror flick that lured audiences in by handing out barf bags at cinema entrances — Morrissey offered the otherworldly actor the starring role in 1973’s Flesh for Frankenstein, a 3D art-horror flick.

Kier reteamed with Morrissey to make 1974’s Blood for Dracula. (Despite the films later being marketed as Warhol’s Frankenstein and Warhol’s Dracula, the mop-topped pop artist was only a producer.) The two movies made Kier, then 30, an instant icon and pillar of cool. The actor has said that his preference has always leaned toward Dracula, a campy sex romp in which he plays the Prince of Darkness, who travels from Transylvania to an Italian estate in search of virgins on which to feed.

“I starved myself and only ate leaves and drank water,” Kier once said of his crash diet for the role. “At the beginning [of the shoot], I sat in a wheelchair because I didn’t have any power.”

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 9 daily issue at the Berlin International Film Festival.