Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

Apparently there's some sort of Spooktacular Shocktoberfest Big Horror Movie Scare-A-Thon going on around these parts, and it's about time I jumped in and joined the fun. Come along, friends, as we time travel back to 1971 and witness the battle between two of film history's most famous creatures, Dracula vs. Frankenstein!

Dracula vs. Frankenstein
Director: Al Adamson
Starring: J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., Regina Carrol

[Let's stop here before we really begin, just to address this poster. They sexed it up big time, advertising an entirely different film from the one that actually exists. If you're titillated by that, you probably fell for the same gag as anyone who actually went to a theater to see this movie. Continue at your own peril.]

"Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart!"

From the opening credits of the movie, you know this is a pile of crap. This is a terrible film, comparable in quality to the worst movie I've ever seen, Vampires on Bikini Beach. The only thing that saves DvF from taking top honors is name recognition: Dracula, Frankenstein, and legendary actor Lon Chaney Jr.'s last horror performance. A descendant of the original Dr. Frankenstein operates a creature emporium on the Venice Beach boardwalk in California, luring young people in with his midget carnival barker and creepy exhibits. The good doctor injects his hulking mute assistant Groton (Chaney) with some sort of drugs, forcing him to kill random women making out with their boyfriends under the boardwalk. You see, the blood of women who are frightened right before they're killed is much better than normal dead woman blood. (Obviously.) As if that wasn't enough, the most nonchalant Dracula ever committed to screen appears out of nowhere and promises to help revive the Frankenstein monster - who is inexplicably buried in California - in exchange for some of the blood, which will make him immortal and let him take over the world...or something. God, this movie sucked.

Yep. That guy is supposed to be Dracula.

The protagonist is Judith Fontaine, a Vegas showgirl searching for her missing sister (killed by Groton, unbeknownst to Judith). After being drugged in a bar (why?), Judith wakes up in the care of Mike, a hippie who she instantly falls in love with. It's one of the worst romances I've ever seen, especially considering Judith's lack of conviction regarding her missing sister and willingness to throw herself at Mike without a second thought. There's even a godawful love montage on the beach, complete with random shots of seagulls. They run across some more hippies (ugh), who say things like:

"Come on, let's get ready for the big protest tonight."
"What are we protesting tonight?"
"I don't know, but I bet it's fun."

Know how to avoid getting murdered under the boardwalk? Get a job.

After twenty or thirty more minutes of utter garbage happening on screen, we end with Judith tied up in a church, now the object of affection for both Dracula and the Frankenstein monster. The two finally fight over her with like five minutes left in the movie (completely misleading title, by the way), stumbling outside for one of the most pathetic excuses of a fight scene I've ever beheld.

A big reason why this movie was so abysmal is because it was originally intended as a biker movie with nothing to do with either of the titular characters; at least that explains the random biker gang that cruises in and out of the picture with no coherence whatsoever. The Frankenstein monster's face looks like it's made out of roasted marshmallows, but it's Dracula who was the most entertaining. He speaks just like Dave Chappelle's version of Prince, but with echo effect, and he seems to be the most apathetic character in the movie. (This is probably due to the fact that he wasn't a real actor - just a producer's stockbroker.) The following is a real exchange from the film:

Dracula appears in a guy's passenger seat as the man drives alone at night.
Guy: Who are you?
Dracula: I am known as the Count of Darkness, the Lord of the Manor of Carpathia. Turn here.
Guy: Who are you?
Dracula (sounding even more bored than before): Keep driving. I'll tell you where.

It goes without saying that the acting is atrocious. Things happen for no discernible reason, and people don't react properly to their surroundings. Many of the actors visibly read their lines from cue cards off camera. The sound quality is deplorable, and the set design is inadequate at best. Blinking lights and the occasional beaker serve as the sad excuse for a lab set, and most of the interiors appear as if they could fall over at any moment. There are some ridiculous kills near the end though, so if that's your reasoning for watching the movie (as it was for me), it may be worth your while just because of how laughably lousy those deaths are.

As terrible as this movie truly is, I can't think of a better way to jump into the first (annual?) Spooktacular Shocktoberfest Big Horror Movie Scare-A-Thon. The only way I can recommend this movie is if you watch it with a bunch of friends to make fun of it (and having a few drinks probably wouldn't hurt). If you're bold enough to give it a try this October, it's available for free on Hulu. Until next time...

1 comment:

The Real Alan Trehern said...

Wow, this sounds...f*ckin treacherous. Good find, but I'm glad I didn't watch it.

Actually, I was watching GRIZZLY RAGE, and could only get through the first 28 minutes. Have you ever reviewed 28 minutes of a movie before?