Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971)

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

Directed by Al Adamson

Tagline: “It’s a real monster mash when they clash!”

Run Time: 90 minutes

Dracula vs Frankenstein is a film that will leave you scratching your head and saying, "Huh?" It might also make you say a lot more than that…things like "I want a refund!" and "I’m NEVER buying anything from E-bay again!"

Our title feature is one of many low-budget… Wait. The words "low budget" infer that there was an actual budget. Let’s start over.

Dracula vs. FrankensteinOur title feature is one of many No-budget creations spewed out by schlockmeister Al Adamson during the 1960’s and 1970’s by his production company / grind house / sludge factory Independent-International Pictures (co-founded with fellow producer Sam Sherman). Adamson is responsible, and I use the word ‘responsible’ in an accusatory sense, for cheesy zilch-bombs in a wide variety of genres: from Westerns such as Female Bunch (1969) and Blazing Stewardesses (1975) to Blaxploitation flicks like Black Heat (1976), Black Samurai (1977), and Death Dimension (1978). (Not even space movies were safe from Adamson’s hands as clearly indicated by the much maligned ‘space comedy’ Cinderella 2000 (1977) nand the bizarre Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970) aka Blood Creatures from the Prehistoric Planet!)

On a macabre note, Al Adamson was murdered by his live-in contractor Fred Fulford in 1995 at age 66. After being reported missing, police discovered Al’s corpse buried in fresh concrete under his newly refitted bathroom. Nice.

Dracula vs. FrankensteinDespite his reputation for churning out crappy movies, Al’s productions typically attracted a cast of eager, if not washed-up and/or talentless, actors and actresses. One such familiar and fading ‘name’ actor that Al frequently employed in order to give his films ‘star’ weight was Lon Chaney Jr. Yes, the guy who played the original wolfman way, way back in 1941. (Do yourself a favor, skip this film and see that one instead.) However, by 1971 Cheney was a sick old man struggling with liver disease and a variety of other ailments. Chaney’s formidable physical limitations were not enough to stop the ever-creative Adamson from using him in this movie: He simply cast the enfeebled actor as a mute, idiot ax-murderer named Groton who merely stumbles around swinging a plastic axe. As fate would have it, Dracula vs Frankenstein was to be Chaney’s last film. He died of liver failure a little over a year after the movie’s release.

Appearing alongside Chaney is film icon and veteran actor J. Carrol Naish. Mr. Naish plays the evil, twisted, and gabby Dr. Duryea, who is actually…are you sitting down?, the last living descendant of the Frankenstein family! Wow! What will they think of next!? Oddly enough, as with Lon Chaney Jr., this film turned out to be Mr. Naish’s last cinematic appearance: he too died a year later in 1973.

Coincidence?! (Cue evil laughter.)

Much like Monster A-Go Go, our feature film is a patchwork of two completely unrelated films that Adamson clumsily and dispassionately wove together to create a confused, incoherent final product. This film was originally intended to be a follow up to Adamson’s semi-successful (relatively speaking of course) exploitive biker flick Satan’s Sadists (1969), but he ran out of steam (i.e., money) and deciding to cash in on the newly rekindled popularity of horror movies. You may be wondering how you could turn an incomplete biker flick into a ‘monster’ movie as lurid as this one. Well, I’ll tell you: he merely tossed Dracula and Frankenstein into the mix and simply combined the older footage with the newer stuff resulting in one big mess. (This blending of unrelated films explains the odd manner in which the bikers seem to pop in and out of the story without really doing anything or having any real effect on the plot. Oh wait. I just described all the characters. Amusingly, the actors also appear older and with different hair styles towards the end of the movie due to the time lapse between filming.)

Dracula vs. FrankensteinOpen in the "Oakmoor Cemetery" and a very, very blue night, i.e., slap a blue-filter over the lens and pretend it’s nighttime. (Sure everybody does it, but man, this is one really blue night.) After a quick pan across some forlorn graves, we see our main man, Count Dracula, ripping open a crypt and removing the lifeless corpse of what I can only assume to be Frankenstein.

By the way, wasn’t Frankenstein’s monster consumed in a gigantic conflagration at the end of Bride of Frankenstein? Well, I guess the good people at Independant-International probably didn’t give a shit about small details like that. But I will give Adamson credit for showing both Dracula and Frankenstein within the first 30 seconds of the movie’s runtime! On the downside, it’s all downhill from here, baby.

As luck would have it, an unfortunate night watchman stumbles across Dracula in flagrante delicto and is quickly dispatched with a routine neck bite. (A special shot is inserted at this point showing the bite marks on the guard’s neck being approximately 1 inch apart which in no way match the distance between Dracula’s fangs. Maybe that’s being nitpicky, but come on, how difficult can it be to maintain even such a banal level of consistency as this?)

Dracula vs. FrankensteinAt this point in the film we get our first close look at the Count (played by "Zandor Vorkov", who also appeared in Adamson’s Brain of Blood before mercifully fading back into obscurity). Dracula, as realized in this film, now has a curly afro, goatee, and goofy plastic teeth that you can purchase along with your prank pepper gum and fake dog shit from any local novelty store. Not to mention that his face is painted completely white while his arms have a nice, brown California tan whenever the sleeves of his jacket creep up towards his elbows.

Cut to a Stock Footage Amusement Park where a young woman clambers down some steps and enters a foggy area on the beach. Why she chose to walk here, and why the hell she doesn’t just turn and leave when she hears a strange noise is not explained. (What did you expect? Something that would make sense?) Anyway, she hears somebody behind her and turns just in time to get her head chopped off by an unseen assailant wielding a plastic axe. (I would have taken a screen shot of the goofy ‘head’ but the scene was too dark. Damn. It was pretty funny.)

A quick jump cut to some Vegas footage indicates that, yes, we are now in Las Vegas. Man, these guys really had their act together. A voice-over of a woman singing immediately caused me to break out in a sweat from the fear of, <gasp>, cutting to a song-and-dance number. Alas, my fears were founded, as we are forced to watch some sort of cabaret where Judith Fontaine (played by Al Adamson’s real-life wife Regina Carrol) performs a cheesy stage number…and do I mean cheesy!

After the performance, Judith receives a telegram informing her that her sister, Joanie, is missing. Being the good sister that she is, and because the plot requires it, Judith immediately packs her bags and flies to sunny California to investigate.

Dracula vs. FrankensteinUpon arrival, Judith meets with police Sgt. Martin of the Missing Persons Bureau. After perfunctory, lifeless introductions, Martin gives Judith the bleak truth: there has been a rash of missing people in the area… and none of them have been found. (Well, I guess that would explain why they’re still ‘missing’, eh?) Tossing down a pile of papers on the desk in front of Judith, Sgt. Martin remarks that Joanie was living with "a bunch of hippies out near the beach."

"It seems that living near the water brings out the best…and the worst in us," Martin continues. Yeah, boy, you get a bunch of hippies by some water and look out!

As Judith listens with mock attention, Martin tells her about a seaside amusement park that serves as a gathering place for "pushers and white slavery operators". (!) Martin concludes his anti-hippie tirade by blaming people’s evil behavior on their subconscious and…the scene abruptly ends. I guess they ran out of film.

Cut to see a pair of hippies meandering around the local amusement park. The guy, appropriately named Strange, is walking hand-in-hand with his girlfriend Samantha. On a whim, the amorous couple decide to pop into the "Creature Emporium". Strange and Samantha pay the midget barker (who eats the dollar bill that was given to him, so, uh, hmmm. I can’t figure out that one either) and proceed through the gloomy entranceway.

(In the "It’s A Small World Department", Strange is played by none other than Greydon Clark, future sleazeball producer of Hobgoblins and other crapola.)

Once inside, the diminutive guide (played by 2′ 11" tall Angelo Rossitto) proclaims the horrors of "Dr. Duryea’s Creature Emporium". These, er, horrors, include a mannequin woman being attacked by an equally lifeless stuffed gorilla, I think, and another dummy (no, not Greydon Clark) getting its head chopped off by a very hokey guillotine.

As the terror reaches its climax, well, not really, but you get the point, the Emporium’s curator, the wheelchair-bound Dr. Duryea, rolls out of the darkness and reassures the scared youngsters that all that they have seen is merely an illusion. (WHEW!)

"The greatest mysteries of the world are not mysteries at all unless we take the time to become familiar with them," he says, which really doesn’t make any sense at all, but hell, the writers probably thought it looked pretty good in the script after smoking a joint.

Having had enough ‘horror’ for now, Strange and his girlfriend leave the park to get ready for the upcoming protest.

"What are we protesting?" Samantha asks.

"I don’t know," Strange answers with a vacant grin, "but it’s going to be fun!" (Ahhh, to be a care-free hippie.)

Meanwhile, Dr. Duryea descends down into the Emporium’s basement where he has built himself a gigantic laboratory. Donning a lab coat, Duryea proceeds with his latest experiment while the idiot (I use that term in the literal sense, not as a pejorative) Groton smiles, pets his puppy, and looks on with a dumb grin.

(This shot is a sad, cringe-worthy ‘homage’ to Lon Chaney Jr.’s portrayal of Lennie in the 1939 classic Of Mice and Men. Even though this flimsy bit of characterization was certainly a kind gesture given to Chaney, it really only serves as a glum reminder of how far this actor had fallen by this late point of his life.)

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

Dr. Duryea pulls back a sheet to reveal the girl who recently had her head chopped off on the beach (and yes, she is Judith’s sister, Joanie. Sorry about the ‘spoiler’, if you could ever really have a spoiler in a movie as transparent as this one.)

Dracula vs. FrankensteinAnyhoo, Joanie’s head has been sewn back in place and she’s alive, although comatose or something. This movie really doesn’t make much sense, but I’m going to give it go: You see, Duryea believes that if a person suffers a traumatic death…"a terrible shock that is inconceivable to the human mind"…the blood obtains some sort of special property that can then be used to create serum that does something or other…and that was the clarified version of what Duryea said. So if you feel you can make more sense of all this, then by all means, rent the movie and see it for yourself.

After some more nonsense, Duryea gives Groton an injection which doesn’t seem to really do anything other then give him a bad case of the hives, but I guess it was meant to be significant. After glowering into the camera for a bit, Groton sneaks down the secret trapdoor onto the beach with his axe in hand, ready to hack some more people.

"Walk silently," Duryea says in parting, "and walk well."

Walk well?!

Later that evening , Duryea receives a visit from none other than Count Dracula himself. Boy, it’s a small world, eh?

"Doctor Duryea, I presume?" The Prince of Darkness queries. In a burst of creativity, the director chose to have all of Dracula’s lines post-processed and given an ‘echo’ effect that was presumably meant to be ‘cool’. Needless to say, it’s pretty much just distracting, not that there’s anything to be distracted from, but still, it’s just goofy.

After Dracula introduces himself, he suggests that they could both be of use to each other. Curious with what Dracula has to say, Duryea invites him into the lab for a talk; and if this scene sounds completely absurd then I’m right on the money with my description.

Upon reaching the laboratory via Duryea’s private elevator (I wonder what they chatted about on the way down? Or did they just keep quiet and watch the lighted numbers until they reached the correct floor? It makes you wonder…) Dracula reveals that he knows Duryea’s true identity: "The last living member of the Frankenstein family." (<GASP>)

Anyhoo, Dracula suggests that he can restore Duryea to a position of power, fitting for a man of the esteemed Frankenstein lineage. To sweeten the pot, the Count promises to kill a few scientists that had a hand in discrediting Duryea and causing the "accidental fire" that sentenced him to a life in a wheelchair. One name is mentioned in particular: Doctor Beaumont. It turns out that this former co-worker was the back-stabbing researcher who buried Frankenstein’s remains in the cemetery without telling Duryea and…you know what? This doesn’t make sense, but I swear, I’m relating this to you almost word for word in an attempt to clarify people’s motives and it’s all just coming out sounding insane. Really, the plot is pretty much a complete mess. Let’s just say that Beaumont is singled out for a special on-screen death at the hands of the Frankenstein monster because he screwed over Duryea the most. (NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: At this point Dracula doesn’t explain what he wants out of the deal. It turns out that Duryea’s serum can help the Count create a race of "indestructible vampires"…whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.)

Meanwhile, out on the beach, an young pair of nameless characters fall prey to Groton’s axe.

Why? Who knows?

Who are they? Who knows?

Does this scene have anything to do with the plot?


Dracula vs. FrankensteinOn the other side of town, Judith makes her way to a hippie bar in order to see if anybody has seen her sister lately. Her inquiries raise the waiter’s suspicions who suspects that Judith is an undercover cop. The waiter slips into the back and informs Rico, the local biker hood (played by none other than Russ Tamblyn of West Side Story fame!). Upon hearing the news, Rico orders the waiter to slip some drugs into Judith’s drink. This sets up the required ‘freak-out’ scene where Judith basically goes a little nuts, dances around, hallucinates, and eventually (but not nearly soon enough) blacks out. (I found it amusing that Judith sees vivid images of Groton climbing down out of a trapdoor even though she hasn’t met that character yet!)

Just as things get really, er, psychedelic, Strange pops into the bar and immediately realizes that this woman requires a little help before things go really wrong for her. Being the kind gentleman that Strange is, he sweeps her up off the dance floor and drags her outside to crash out at a friend’s house.

Back at Duryea’s lab, things are in high swing. Dracula has delivered Frankenstein’s body as promised and his also hooked the corpse up to the perfunctory array of wires and electrodes. What a nice guy. A close up of the monster’s face reveals a remarkable make-up job. Simply astounding in its faithfulness to the original Frankenstein monster:

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

Yes, I was being sarcastic. He’s just, hmmm, really lumpy looking. And stupid, too. I mean, what the hell happened to him?

Anyway, an electrical storm coinciding with a passing comet (!!!) are just what’s needed to stimulate the monster back to life.

By the way, I read on IMDB that the equipment shown in this scene was some of the actual equipment used in the original 1931 Frankenstein film. I sincerely doubt that Al Adamson had that kind of pull. Think about how much those kinds of original classic props would be worth to a film memorabilia collector…and you think the owners would just hand it over to Adamson to use in this ridiculous venture? (You may or may not know that Mel Brooks did in fact get permission to use the original equipment in his classic spoof Young Frankenstein.)

With Frankenstein successfully resurrected, Dracula and Duryea send him out to kill Dr. Beaumont. (This bit part is played by sci-fi icon Forrest J. Ackerman.) To make a long scene short, Dracula somehow teleports right inside Beaumont’s car as he’s driving home from work.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein"I am known as the Count of Darkness," Dracula explains, "Lord of the Manor of Carpathia…Turn here."

(God, I love that: "…Turn here." Now that’s something you wouldn’t expect Dracula to say.)

The Count forces the understandably puzzled doctor to drive…somewhere… where Frankenstein grabs him and crushes the hapless man in a mighty bear hug. Boy, the excitement just doesn’t let up. And by the way, how did Dracula transport Frankenstein to the edge of town without anybody seeing him? Just curious.

Early the next day, Judith awakens in the "pad" of one Mike Howard, your basic good-guy and Friend of the Hippies, who happens to live in a really kick-ass beach bungalow. How he could afford such a residence is never explained.

Mike immediately notes that Judith must be Joanie’s sister. ("Your upturned nose…and full lips," he says to Judith. Whatever, dude.) Judith, now hoping that Mike can tell her something about Joanie, suggests that they take a stroll on the beach and talk. When Judith presses Mike for information, he explains how Joanie started hanging out at the amusement park.

"She used to have fantasies about being a freak," Mike says.

"A freak? I can’t believe that," says Judith.

"Two heads, an eye missing, an elongated spine…anything that was grotesque turned her on."

(Man, does this guy know how to talk to a lady or what?)

Anyway, Mike mentions that Joanie started hanging around Duryea’s "Creature Emporium" just before she disappeared. Curious to see if there is any connection between the 2 incidents (duh!), Mike, Judith, Strange, and Samantha decide to pay Duryea a visit and try to get some more information. They eventually make contact with him inside the house o’ horrors and show him a picture of Joanie. He pretends never to have seen her…but Judith sees through the ruse…"He’s seen her," she says after Dr. Duryea takes his leave, "I just know it!"

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

We are soon presented with another pointless scene where Rico and a couple of his tough-guy pals harass Strange and Samantha in a back alley. Out of the blue, Sgt. Martin drives up in a patrol car and Rico and his buddies take off. Yeah, that was really a crucial plot advancement.

Speaking of pointless scenes, we cut to see Mike and Judith walking along the beach while a ‘romantic’ song plays in the background, which is kind of strange because they were supposed to be walking on the beach before they went to visit Duryea. Hmmm.

"What do you think of my little hideaway?" Mike asks as they sit in the middle of a wide-open public beach.

Well, they end up kissing and it’s about as titillating as a getting a broken filling drilled out of a tooth in the rear of your mouth.

Back in Duryea’s lab, the good Doctor is busy squirting colored fluids into test tubes containing other colored fluids, so it’s totally, totally convincing me that this is all very scientific. As Duryea babbles on and on about how his serum is almost ready, the serum that will "make us all alike" or some such nonsense, really it’s all quite hard to follow because Duryea changes the purpose of the serum from scene to scene. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Groton begins transforming into something (giving Lon Chaney Jr. a chance to relieve his Werewolf days…really, it’s sad to see him this far down in the gutter), so Duryea gives him an injection of the beta-version serum which reverses the transformation process. (In an earlier scene Duryea’s serum was the cause of Groton’s transformation…I guess the script writers forgot that little plot point.)

Meanwhile, Mike deduces that all of the "strange occurrences" in the last week center around Dr. Duryea’s "Creature Emporium".

Oh, sorry, I was going to continue describing that scene but in a demonstration of awesome editing skills, we fade while Mike is talking in mid sentence and cut to see a boy and girl making out in a car somewhere. Wow, that’s a quality job there guys.

Whatever. Frankenstein kidnaps the girl and kills the boyfriend and a couple of cops who happen to stumble along. What a bunch of idiots. Ok, let’s see what’s happening now…oh wait. Too late. Jump to the next scene. You gotta move pretty quick to keep up with this movie.

Later that night we see Mike and Judith at the pier snooping around under the Creature Emporium. After about 2 seconds of investigation, Mike discovers the secret trapdoor leading up from the beach into Dr. Duryea’s laboratory. Actually, Mike had to employ all the powers of deduction at his disposal to figure this one out. You see, the planks that make up the trapdoor itself are set perpendicular to the rest of the boards under the pier.

"It just doesn’t look like the rest of it," Mike ASTOUNDINGLY concludes:

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

AMAZING! Sherlock Holmes…Look Out! There’s a new kid in town and his name is Mike!

"I believe that Doctor Duryea is a collector of humans," Mike notes.

"Oh! That’s….horrible," Judith replies.

Mike goes on to blow a few lines of dialog and then plants a completely emotionless kiss on Judith’s lips. Yadda yadda yadda cut to Samantha, sitting alone on the beach when Rico and his boys come up and chase her under the pier. (How small is this beach anyway? It’s like if anybody takes more than 5 steps in any direction they’re suddenly underneath the Creature Emporium. It’s getting to be a little annoying.) Anyway, the three nogoodnicks grab Samantha and throw her to the ground. Just as they are about to tear off her clothes and well, you get the idea, Groton magically teleports into the scene and hacks the three would-be rapists to death. Samantha is spared, but faints, or falls asleep or something, for she is shown lying unconscious next to her dead assailants. (They also appear to have simply fallen asleep. How hard can it be to convincingly play dead for cripes sake?!)

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

As Groton carries the motionless Samantha back up through the trap door (and how Groton could fit through that tiny door, let alone while carrying another person over his shoulder, is a mystery), Mike looks over to Judith and says, "Did you hear that? It sounds like a chain unwinding!"

First of all, I have no idea where Mike and Judith are in relation to the pier. But given my early hypothesis, they are no more than 5 paces from it. Second, would hearing an unwinding chain be cause for alarm? It’s like me sitting around with my wife out on the patio and then she suddenly jumps up and says, "Did you hear that? It sounds like a garden hose unrolling!" I mean…so what?

Mike’s curiosity gets the better of him ("I’ve heard that sound before and now I think I know what it is!" he says. Yeah, like, maybe…a chain unwinding?) so he stands up…and I SWEAR TO GOD…he takes 5 steps and he’s immediately under the pier!!! (My theory was correct! I’m vindicated!)

Suspecting the worst, Mike and Judith run from beach, through the amusement park, and into the Creature Emporium. Once inside, Mike forces his way past the crippled Doctor and down into the laboratory. You can cut the tension with a knife at this point, can’t you?

Anyway, once downstairs Judith immediately spots her zombie-fied sister (is that a word?) strapped into a coffin-shaped container leaning against the wall. (Her head has been reattached after Groton had chopped it off…Damn! Duryea is good!)

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

"You see," Duryea says, "she is alive and well…and no harm has come to her." (Well, except for the whole head-chopped-off-with-an-axe-thingee.)

Duryea blabs on about how his new serum will change the human race and blah blah blah. Mike eventually spots Strange’s girlfriend, Samantha, laying on a gurney in a state of zombification. (No, that word wasn’t in my spell checker but I’m using it anyway.) Apparently, her recent shock at seeing Rico and the other hoodlums being chopped to bits (sort of), has done something to her blood making it perfect for the completion of Duryea’s serum. (This makes no sense to me either.)

After more ranting and raving Mike decides to end this madness by grabbing Duryea. The crippled doctor, however, pulls out a pistol and takes a few potshots at Mike as he turns tail and runs for the door. While Mike keeps Duryea busy, Judith runs for her life with Groton in hot, shambling pursuit. (Duryea’s midget assistant jumps with glee on top of the trapdoor…doh. It opens and he falls to the beach on top of the axe he was carrying. What an idiot.)

In a twist of fate, Duryea wheels himself around the Emporium looking for Mike who is hiding in the shadows. In his fervor, the Doctor bumps into the guillotine display, and falls from his chair directly under the blade. Swish—chop! Oh, the irony. (And, yeah, sure, this old dude could propel himself fast enough that he would literally launch out of his wheelchair when he hit the base of the display.) Well, anyway, Duryea’s dead.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Martin and Strange have also reached the Emporium and are poking around. (If you look closely, Strange now sports a scrubby goatee because the closing footage of the movie was shot long after the original opening shots.) Looking up, Strange spots Judith on the Emporium’s roof with Groton stumbling after her. Martin pulls out his pistol and shoots Groton, which transforms him into a mannequin causing him to plummet to the ground. (Why did Martin shoot Groton? All he did was see him on the roof, and he has no idea that Groton is in fact behind the murders. Oh well, it was ‘cool’ and the script required it I suppose.)

In an oh-so-touching seen, Groton’s puppy comes up and licks his face. It really reminded me of the closing scene from Beast of Yucca Flats, only without the intense emotions that only Coleman Francis could evoke from his viewers.

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Anyhoo, as Judith catches her breath, Dracula sneaks up from behind and grabs her. (To be honest, I actually forgot about him! Man, now that’s a sign of a well written story.) Instead of killing Judith outright, Dracula hypnotizes her and leads her up to the top of a tower. (Just how high is this Creature Emporium anyway?!)

"Your fear will fully electrolyze the molecular structure of your blood," Dracula chortles as he binds Judith to the railing. How Dracula acquired so much knowledge in biochemistry is not clear. Maybe he took night classes. Get it? Night classes, because he’s Dracula, and vampires don’t like sun…oh, never mind.

Sensing that the movie is almost over, Frankenstein decides to make an appearance on top of the tower as well, cause, you know, his name is in the title too.

Meanwhile, Mike sees what’s going on, grabs a flare (!) from (the recently-vanished) Sgt. Martin’s police car, and runs up to help Judith. I’m guessing Sgt. Martin and Strange have teleported back to the police station because they have totally disappeared from both this scene and the rest of the movie. I must also commend Mike for keeping his composure after just seeing both Count Dracula and Frankenstein (!!!) accosting his girlfriend. You’d think that it would at least give one pause to see something like that, but not Mike. Hi-ho! I’ll save ye, oh fair Judith!

From atop the tower, Dracula spots Mike making his way up the stairs and sends Frankenstein over to whoop his ass. Mike lights the flare and shoves it into the shambling monster’s face which forces Dracula’s basically worthless accomplice to retreat in fear.

For some reason the flare confuses Frankenstein and he attacks Dracula instead. (What a freakin’ idiot.)

"No…him! HIM!" Dracula shouts at Frankenstein, which I thought was pretty damned funny.

All this confusion gives Mike a chance to untie Judith and run down the stairs with her. Alas, Dracula somehow regains control of the muddling monster and turns just in time to zap Mike with his magic Dracula Ring. Needless to say, the special effects are woefully chintzy, i.e., hand-drawn cartoon ‘electric beams’ over a freeze-frame shot of Dracula. But then again, it’s all par for the course.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

Unfortunately for Mike, Dracula scores a bulls-eye and transforms him into a cartoon burning-man. Judith can’t take anymore of this nonsense and faints.

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We next see Frankenstein carrying Judith to Dracula’s abandoned church. (Complete with about a zillion pre-lit candles. How romantic. And also, you have to wonder just where Dracula has been hiding for so long in Huntington Beach, California.)

With Judith tightly bound atop his coffin, Dracula can now complete his plans to electrolyze her blood with fear, or whatever the hell he said. Frankenstein, however, takes a look at Judith and falls in love with her. (Yes, I’m going to say it: Oh BUH-ruther!) Dracula realizes what has happened and gets into position to zap Frankenstein with his ring, which to be honest, is something he should have done a long time ago just to be rid of this pest.

Somehow Frankenstein gets away, which is quite a feat since he moves at around 5-inches per hour. Nonetheless, Dracula chases the meandering monster into the woods where a wild melee ensues. (Note that it’s high-noon out, which is odd since vampires can’t tolerate sunlight. Oh well.) After tussling about for a bit, Dracula proceeds to rip off one of Frankenstein’s arms, which, I swear to God, looked just as cheesy as when King Arthur did the same to the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail. (To be fair, Frankenstein vs Dracula came out 4 years before Monty Python’s movie, but I just wanted you to imagine how woeful the special effects are in this film.)

After removing the other arm, Dracula finally tires of Frankenstein’s shenanigans and handily pulls off the monster’s head. (Which does have the unexpected benefit of putting a stop to whoever’s voice it was on the soundtrack shouting ‘rarrghghghggggggh’ for the duration of this idiotic fight.)

With that being done, Dracula looks up and realizes that the sun is coming up; which is strange because the sun has been up since the start of the fight, but never mind.

"Must escape burning sun!" Dracula shouts to himself with a puzzling sudden loss of definite articles.

I hope you’re sitting down as I describe the super-unexpected surprise ending: Dracula doesn’t make it back in time. Nay, gentle reader, he collapses onto the steps just in front of the entrance to his murky sanctuary. Oh, bitter, bitter irony. Anyway, at least the special effects team got to blow whatever pocket change they had left from their budget as Dracula transforms into a styrofoam skull with a white wig (!) .

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If you haven’t thrown a beer bottle through your TV set by now, you’ll see that Judith has managed to wriggle free of her bonds and escape into the woods. Blah.

The End.

Dennis Grisbeck (Feb 2008)

10 comments to Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971)

  • guts3d

    …As Judith listens with mock attention, Martin tells her about a seaside amusement park that serves as a gathering place for “pushers and white slavery operators”. (!) Martin concludes his anti-hippie tirade by blaming people’s evil behavior on their subconscious and…the scene abruptly ends. I guess they ran out of film.

    If it is so well known, why don’t they bust the place? I am sure competent cops do that all the time. Great review!

  • Yeah, carnivals and white slavery. You just can’t separate them.

  • popzombie

    This movie reminds me so much of my time in Ocean City,MD. Same kind of people and monsters.

  • dvader7

    wow! I saw this movie close to 30 years ago or so, probably on Elvira or something, and have been looking for it ever since. all I remembered was Dracula ripping Frakie’s arms off. thank you! I love when long searches come to an end. I have to find this gem and watch it immediately.

  • Just caught this on MGM-HD movie channel, and the review was dead-on perfect. Much of it’s pathetic, especially perhaps poor ol’ J. Carroll Naish’s right eye darting left and right as he reads his lines from the cue card (while his left eye was fixed on a spot — it’s a glass eye); Lon Chaney’s staggering left and right through his scenes; the sudden surprise death of Mike, the hero; and lastly the death scene of Dracula whose makeup doesn’t extend to his arms or eyelids, and whose decomposing skull isn’t in the same position (I mean, how hard is that?).

    Still, with all its flaws (and there are plenty), I’d rather watch it than CAMELOT (no kidding–saw it this past week, and what a SNORE fest). At least DvsF was entertaining, far more so than that dreadful musical.

  • Scott Mercer

    What’s amazing is that in spite of the film’s low budget, it actually has an original musical score, composed by Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes lesser light William Lava. It’s actually a pretty decent score for a cheesy horror movie, with scary/Gothic trappings in the classic mode, and was released on CD within the last couple years, for the first time. Worth seeking out. Do an internet search and you might find it.

  • Jack Desmondi

    Sorry, you lost me at your poorly researched bio on Chaney. Though he was an alcoholic, Chaney like his father died of throat cancer–not liver failure.

  • @Jack Desmondi
    Hi Jack, I’d be happy to update the info in this review if you could provide me a link(s) to something different. IMDB has cause of death as “”beriberi and liver failure”, while Wikipedia has it as “heart failure”. Granted, one has to take info on the net with a grain of salt, but, so it goes.

  • daniel clavette

    this movies is truly cult classic b-movies of 70 monster movies and it remenber circuit and kind of people and monster as well.

  • Keith Rada

    I saw this travesty upon it’s release at a Garland, Texas drive -in on a memorable (to say the least) double bill with the equally amazing HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS. Such cherished memories.

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