Dracula vs. Frankenstein
is the low budget clash of two horror heavyweights from 1971. Al Adamson produced and directed the movie for Independent-International Pictures and was able to get stars Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolf Man
), J. Carrol Naish (House Of Frankenstein
), Russ Tamblyn (War Of The Gargantuas
), and Forrest J. Ackerman (Famous Monsters Of Filmland
magazine). Other stars include Anthony Eisley (Hawaiian Eye
), Regina Carrol (Adamson's future wife) and Zandor Vorkov as Dracula.
The plot (as best as I can explain it): Dr. Durea(Naish), a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, is performing experiments on the blood of young women with his mute brutish assistant (Chaney). Dracula believes Durea's experiments can make him able to survive in sunlight. He offers Durea the Frankenstein Monster to use against his enemies (Ackerman). Judith Fontaine (Carrol) is looking for her sister, who is a victim of Durea. Her searches lead her to the amusement park where Durea works and where she runs afoul of Dracula. Dracula plans to make her his bride, but the Monster has fallen in love her, leading to a battle between the titans. Dracula literally tears the monster apart, not realizing that the sun is rising, which turns him to dust.
As a kid, I didn't realize how bad Dracula vs. Frankenstein was. I was into it for the monsters. Dracula's ring, which fires lightning bolts, his hollow voice, the Monster looking like Prune Face, and the final battle were cool to me. I remember searching for the title of this movie in my earliest days of searching the web. Once I found the name, I bought a VHS copy through the mail and realized that I probably never watched the whole movie as a kid. The only parts that I remembered were of Dracula and Frankenstein. It was like the rest of the story was from another movie! (said tongue in cheek).
With this watching, it was so obvious that this was Ed Wood-style filmmaking. A little internet searching confirms that most of the movie was already made when Dracula and Frankenstein were added to the plot. Scenes with Naish and Vorkov were filmed about a year after other scenes. It's a shame because there are some good ideas here, which get muddled by the mash-up plot.
First off, even including Universal's House Of... movies from the 40s, this is the first real clash between Dracula and Frankenstein. Dracula actually has a motive beyond drinking the blood of buxom beauties. I'm not even offended by Dracula's ring or his tearing apart the Monster, though that might be due to nostalgia. According to the IMDb trivia page, the original plan was to have Dracula drink Frankenstein's blood, which could've been awesome. Frankenstein's Monster as a vampire? Dracula drinking undead blood? There was potential there. Unfortunately, John Bloom couldn't keep the fangs in his mouth due to the Frankenstein makeup so the idea was dropped!
I kind of like this take on the legendary Count Dracula in the modern world but I really can't decide if this is a good/bad movie or a bad/bad movie.
Regina Carrol's showgirl performance. She's nice to look at but this musical number will make you appreciate the talent of real stars.
Lon Chaney, Jr. He plays a mute, puppy loving ax murderer, which is kind of a summation of his career. He relies on wild hair and facial expressions to show his madness. There's not much to the role and it's a bit of a sad ending to a 40 year career but it's no worse than Spider Baby.
Dracula's ring. I remembered the scenes where Dracula shoots bolts from his ring very well. It doesn't fit with any other portrayal of the vampire but, as a kid, I thought it was cool, and the nostalgia has stuck with me. The effects are very cheap.
The final battle. I have to admit to having built this up more in my memories. I misremembered having seen Dracula pull the head off the Monster. In reality, the scene is overly dark and shown in shadow. Still, this made an impression on me so I guess that's a plus to the filmmaking? in contrast, though, I didn't remember Dracula pulling off the Monster's arms, which was actually shown in more detail.
Zandor Vorkov was the pseudonym of Roger Engel, who was the stockbroker of Dracula vs Frankenstein producer Sam Sherman. His only other credit was in Adamson's Brain Of Blood (1971).
As seen on Cinemassacre
, there were other movies titled Dracula vs. Frankenstein,
in 1970, starring Michael Rennie, and in 1971, directed by Jesus Franco. I was interested in watching them, but James Rolfe's description as a "shitshow" has made me decide to not waste my time.
You can watch Dracula vs. Frankenstein here: