= Highest Rating
is a wretched motion picture. Really wretched. But that
doesn't mean it's devoid of entertainment value.
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
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
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
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.)
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.
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!
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.)