Dracula vs. Frankenstein
U.S.A. / 1971
Directed by Al Adamson
Starring
Anthony Eisley
J. Carroll Naish
Lon Chaney Jr.
Color / 90 Minutes / PG
Format: DVD (R0 - NTSC)
Troma Team Video
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"Two heads, an eye missing, an elongated spine... Anything that was grotesque turned her on."
Mike discusses Jodie's fantasies
Media Blasters DVD (2013)
Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
5
    6   10 = Highest Rating  
This is a wretched motion picture. Really wretched. But that doesn't mean it's devoid of entertainment value. 
   
Dracula vs. Frankenstein is really an amalgam of footage shot by Al Adamson (Horror of the Blood Monsters) between 1969-71. None of it makes any particular sense, and all of it is underbudgeted, poorly written, badly acted and clumsily directed. The so-called special effects are pathetic at best. Former Golden Age movie stars Lon (The Wolf Man) Chaney and J. Carroll Naish thoroughly debase and embarrass themselves. Frequent Dragnet player Anthony Eisley (The Mighty Gorga, The Doll Squad), Russ Tamblyn (Twin Peaks) and Jim Davis (Dallas) are also on hand, slumming for what had to be minuscule paychecks. Further shame is deserved for what in all probability are the worst representations of Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster ever put on film. Nevertheless I actually had fun watching this abomination!
    In 'modern day' California, Count Dracula (atrociously bad "Zandor Vorkoff" AKA Roger Engel, the producer's stockbroker!) digs up the Frankenstein Monster in Oakmoor cemetery. What the creature was doing buried on the Left Coast is anyone's guess... Meanwhile, after a very bad musical number, Vegas cabaret singer Judith Fontaine (Regina Carroll, Adamson's real-life wife) arrives in Venice, California to search for her missing sister Jodie. Sgt. Martin of the Venice P.D. (Davis, in an ill-fitting suit)
is looking into the girl's disappearance but without much luck. He more or less tells her that, since Jodie was hanging out with hippies and riff raff, its unlikely she'll turn up anytime soon.
    Jodie won't be. She's been decapitated by Groton (Chaney, looking sadly pathetic), the mute, feeble-minded servant of the evil Dr. Durea (Naish), proprietor of a "Creature Emporium" on the Venice boardwalk. The wheelchair-bound Durea's real surname is Frankenstein, and he's conducting the usual nefarious experiments in a secret lab within his establishment. For no discernable reason he transplants Jodie's head onto another woman's body. To continue his experiments he needs more bodies; a drug-injected Groton provides these by prowling the beach at night
with an axe, growling like a dog.
    Somehow Dracula knows all about it. He approaches Durea and suggests they
join forces. Drac wants to revive the Frankenstein Monster because this will enable him to create a vampire army a "legion of the undead" with which to take over the world. (Huh?) Durea readily agrees. He's keen to use the Monster for his own purposes, chiefly the murder of a scientific rival, Dr. Beaumont (Famous Monsters of Filmland's Forry Ackerman himself, in an amusing cameo). While this is going on, Judith meets up with Mike Howard (Eisley), middle-aged beach bum and acquaintance of Jodie's. Together they begin inquiring after the missing girl. What passes for clues in this flick inevitably lead them to the door of Durea's Creature Emporium. In a hilarious sequence Mike rushes inside the building to confront Durea and all heck breaks loose, culminating in not one but two laughably silly accidental deaths. Groton is shot down by Sgt. Martin whom other cops erroneously refer to as "lieutenant" obligingly showing up in the nick of time. But Dracula's still on the loose with the Frankenstein Monster in tow. After dealing with Mike (Ouch! Didn't expect that!) the vampire kidnaps Judith and takes her to an abandoned church. The suddenly-smitten Monster doesn't take kindly to Drac's plans for the buxom singer, and thus we're treated to the less than thrilling mano a mano combat promised by the title. (It's even set to that classic Creature from the Black Lagoon music cue that's been ripped off by a zillion other flicks.)
   
Dracula vs. Frankenstein is unadulterated drivel, celluloid excrement that scrapes the bottom of the drive-in barrel with the worst of 'em. Nothing in the movie works or even comes close. Vorkoff's Dracula literally sucks, with his mod '70s afro and sideburns, dubbed echo-chamber voice and K-mart Halloween costume. The head of the Frankenstein Monster looks like a rotten potato smeared with dried oatmeal. Seeing Lon Chaney in such a state of decline would normally invoke sympathy if it weren't for his giddily goofy performance. It's obvious poor Naish is reading most of his awful lines ("Walk silent, Groton, and walk well!") from cue cards, his slipping dentures clicking audibly (and frequently) on the soundtrack. After a while this all gets to be pretty funny somehow a sort of cumulative reaction effect to a constant bombardment of schlock. The movie stinks to high heaven, yes... but its aroma, inexplicably, is not entirely unpleasant.

This was my second Troma DVD; I'm pleased to report it's not jampacked with Lloyd Kaufman schtick of the sort found on the Troma's War disc. There are actually some pretty good extras here: Trailers for this and other Adamson atrocities, an amusing audio commentary by producer Sam Sherman, deleted footage (more Forry!) and an 8mm film Sherman took while scouting locations. Best and much too short is a interview piece with Sherman called Producing Schlock, featuring some choice trailer snippets and film clips. The main feature is presented full screen (1:33) and is somewhat soft, but a movie this bad would only look worse if we could see every little detail. Same goes for the mono audio track it's scratchy but serviceable. Priced at under 18 bucks it's not a bad deal at all. And no Lloyd Kaufman! 11/13/01
UPDATE The Troma DVD reviewed here went OOP in 2005. In February 2013 Media Blasters released a completely remastered anamorphic widescreen edition, offering vastly superior picture & sound. (The audio commentary and featurettes are carried over from the Troma disc.)
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