Friday, October 14, 2011
Dracula vs. Frankenstein
Dracula vs. Frankenstein
Directed by Al Adamson
Starring J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., Zandor Vorkov, Anthony Eisley, Regina Carrol
Dr. Duryea AKA Dr. Frankenstein (played by J. Carrol Naish), with the help of his monster serum-addled assistant Groton (Lon Chaney Jr.), has been murdering women on the beach in order to perform ghastly experiments. One night, Count Dracula shows up with a proposition. Dracula has discovered the remains of the original Frankenstein’s monster and will help the doctor get his revenge on the medical community that discredited him. What does he want in return? Nothing really; he just wants to pull some evil shit on an unsuspecting world.
MEANWHILE... Nightclub performer Judy Fontaine (played by Regina Carrol) is searching for her missing sister Joanie and she gets a big dose of LSD from a bald biker with a ludicrous looking scar on his head. She is rescued by a pair of happy go lucky hippies, Strange (Greydon Clark) and Samantha (Anne Morrell). Next Judy meets Mike Howard (Anthony Eisley), a hippie guru who knew Joanie before she disappeared. The gang heads down to the boardwalk to check out Dr. Duryea’s horror funhouse to see if Joanie (who had an interest in the macabre) might have gone there. Little does Judy know that her sister has already become a part of the mad doctor’s horrifying menagerie.
At some point, you have to open your heart to the world of Al Adamson. I didn’t think I could do it but I asked myself: “Who am I to resist greatness?” His films are slapdash and awkward but full of chaotic beauty. Dracula vs. Frankenstein is a kooky disaster infused with hippies, acid trips, surfers, and bikers (that were intended for an unfinished biker film). The horror elements and the biker elements go together like razor blades and Cheese Whiz but I have to admit this film is pretty damn entertaining. When the plot comes to a complete stop for some romance between Judy and Mark, it’s no bummer. Hey square, I can dig on these love vibes!
The cast in this movie could not be better. Lon Chaney Jr. acts like a junkie and super prolific J. Carrol Naish (House of Frankenstein) is the master of mad science, calling the shots from his wheelchair of doom. Zandor Vorkov makes his goateed and swarthy Count Dracula work by the sheer will of his eyebrows alone. Adamson regular, Regina Carrol, is sultry and sexy -well, she has big boobs and big hair anyway. Angelo Rossitto (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) may be small in stature but he is hugely creepy as Grazbo, the boardwalk barker leading unsuspecting hip kids to their doom.
Out of all the Al Adamson films I’ve seen, this is probably my favorite. The quick pacing dies a dopey death in the last 10 minutes and the off kilter weirdness from the weak writing, expository overdubs, and childlike editing is even more aggressive than usual. But you know, I pretty much loved every second. Dracula vs. Frankenstein is a bargain basement monster mash-up sifted through the mind of a man who thought he knew what the hippie generation would want to see on the big screen. If you don’t think you can handle a dough-faced Frankenstein’s monster fighting a disco Dracula then this film ain’t for you. I thought that perhaps you’d be MAN ENOUGH or WOMAN ENOUGH or BOTH ENOUGH to deal with it but you’re not.
“They want to see an illusion. They do not realize that reality itself is the grandest illusion of all. And that human blood is the essence from which future illusions may be created.”