Philip Marshak, Director of 'Dracula Sucks,' Passes Away

Lila Gray

LOS ANGELES — Golden Age director Philip Marshak, best known in the XXX realm for his hardcore 1978 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, “Dracula Sucks,” passed away July 24 in the arms of his loved ones at the age of 80 after battling leukemia, diabetes and heart disease, his son Darryl Marshak told XBIZ.

“’Boogie Nights’ was my dad, Philip Marshak,” Darryl Marshak said of his father, who was raised in a tough neighborhood of the Bronx. He moved to L.A. in the 1960's to pursue a career in film, where he worked as an assistant to Jerry Lewis.

“He was a visionary when it came to cinema language and story," Darryl said. "And his enthusiasm was like that of a young kid, even in his 40s and 50s, he was really just excited about everything — it’s a nice trait to have."

Darryl worked with his father on several projects, producing both "Dracula Sucks" and "Lust Flight 2000," and explained "I was part of all of them, but I wasn’t on them. We had to take [Golden Age writer, director and performer] Bill Margold along instead of me." Darryl now works as a mainstream talent agent in Hollywood, Calif.

“They were an unusual family," the selfsame Margold said of the father-son duo. "Marshak was a dreamer, I think his body of work compares very favorably to Spinelli, who is sainted in our industry. But I think that Marshak had a much more deviant mind.”

“It was drug-seeped era," Margold added, harkening additional "Boogie Nights"-type phantasmagorias. "I didn’t do of that kind of stuff, and that’s probably why I was able to finish ‘Dracula Sucks,’ in spite of Marshak.”

According to Margold, Marshak was a spitfire and a maverick “obsessed with Bela Lugosi,” and made “Dracula Sucks” as an homage to the actor, who is synonymous with the historic bloodsucker. Darryl explained that his father had secured the rights to make the film version of Lugosi’s life, under the working title “House of Pain,” but never completed the project.

“He put all of his energy and time into that,” Darryl said. “That was his big thing. He wanted to win an Oscar. And that’s why he made ‘Dracula Sucks’: because he was frustrated trying to get [the] Lugosi [picture] off.”

“Dracula Sucks,” shot in the summer of 1978 on a ranch in Lancaster, Calif., featured an unparalleled cast of would-be and established adult legends, including John Holmes, Seka, Kay Parker, Jamie Gillis, Serena, John Leslie, Paul Thomas, Annette Haven and Margold.

The film is currently being remastered and is set to be reissued, and may be screened in conjunction with the fall or winter launch of an upcoming book by Serena, Margold said.   

“He was one of the unsung heros of X who came and went almost unnoticed, but left a very interesting body of work,” Margold said. Marshak's limited active years as a director in adult ran from 1978-1985 and encompassed “Olympic Fever,” “Space Virgins,” “Passionate Lee” and “”Blue Ice,” among others.   

“I think Philip realized when it stopped being illegal, it stopped being fun, and he dreamed about real world projects that never took place,” Margold said of Marshak’s short stint in adult. “Remember, Marshak’s heyday was when it was all illegal.”

“Passionate Lee” starring Sharon Mitchell and “Space Virgins” starring Kimberly Carson, were both shot during the 1984 Olympics because Marshak figured the cops would all be busy, and therefore less likely to interfere with the production.   

Darryl offered a slightly more grounded explanation for Marshak’s departure from the biz. “He kind of backed away from the business because he wasn’t making any money from it,” he said. “I worked with him and it was great. But he was just into the art of it, he wasn’t into the business of it, which frustrated me a lot.”  

Besides Darryl, Marshak is survived by his wife of 50 years, Pamela, his son, Shane, and daughter, Tracy, his sister, Judith, his brother, Norman, and six grandchildren.   

A memorial service for Marshak will be held at Temple Isaiah in L.A. this Sunday at 11 a.m.