Movie Review: Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

January 7, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

After the most Ray Dennis Steckler opening credits sequence that Ray Dennis Steckler never directed, Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein gets underway… and boy fuckin’ does it ever a graverobbing Dracula (Zandor Vorkov… much more impressive a moniker than Roger, the record store employee), an axe murder committed by a mute Igor-surrogate named Groton (Lon Chaney Jr. who is argurably most well-known from starring in 1941’s The Wolf Man for Universal, some groovy “kids”, B-Roll of the Vegas strip, and a mad scientist, a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein himself (played in his last role by J. Carrol Naish, no stranger to the monster biz having co-starred in 1944’s House of Frankenstein) performing “experiments” on comely, nude women.

How does all of that fit together? Just wait, the movie isn’t done jamming shit together…

Added to the monstrous mix, we also get a showgirl, Judith Fontaine (Regina Carrol of 1969’s Satan’s Sadists, another Adamson production) by name, looking for her missing sister, stock footage of some demonstration or another, an acid trip (Fontaine again), dodgy voice over on a beach, the resurrection of the The Frankenstein Monster (John Bloom, in a make-up that looks like said creature was stung by roughly 1,456 bees), and Drac-attack using Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine head-honcho Forrest J. Ackerman as an Uber driver.

There’s also a carnival with a dark ride hosted by Freaks‘ Angelo Rossitto, because yes.

Eventually the search for that missing sister leads the groovy “kids” to that dark ride, behind which lies Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.

Then, just as things gel we get a mini motorcycle gang picture starring Twin Peaks and War of the Gargantuas‘ Russ Tamblyn (also of Satan’s Sadists) right in the middle of things… and the film isn’t half over yet…

Eventually Dracula and Frankenstein fight.

Proving that Ed Wood was a vibe as much as an actual person, Al Adamson really hit it out of the park with this one. We get Hollywood stars a hair past their prime (yet giving it their absolute all), crude, hand-made (and awesome as fuck) gore and make-up (a personal fav), classic monsters (also past their prime by this point as far as Hollywood was concerned), mellow-groove rock, a song and dance number, mild titillation, and shockingly shitty day for night (be sure to look for the folks taking a sunshine filled stroll in the background as Frankenstein’s Monster hassles a woman).

Also as with Wood, Adamson imbued this flick with a ton of heart which gives it a charm that most monster cheapies lack.

Speaking of cheap, past releases of this film have been a bit lacking in the visual panache department, but the transfer utilized here by Severin films is gorgeous!

The picture retains a soft film grain while presenting excellent detail (you can see shit like where make-up was applied, or those aforementioned people out for a walk… and it’s fascinating), warm skin tones (except on the titular monsters of course), and vivid color.

Adding to the excellence on this Blu-ray release are a grave-full of extras which begin with a collection of interviews featuring Vorkov, Bloom, legendary producer Sam Sherman, and director of photography Gary Graver (as well as his son Sean) that contains a wealth of personal anecdotes about the production.

Following that we get an archival audio commentary from Sherman, a nearly hour-long retrospective on the film  (an excellent watch, and one of my favorites of the bonus material presented here), an archival interview with Ackerman (conducted by Sherman), and a collection of outtakes and deleted scenes (including the film’s original ending).

Lastly comes the film’s trailer, and collections of TV and radio spots… but wait, there’s more!

Included on a separate Blu is another Adamson/Sherman effort, 1971’s Brain of Blood!

Amir (western picture mainstay Reed Hadley) the beloved leader of the faraway nation of Kalid (represented entirely by one still image from a postcard), is about to expire, so naturally the only thing to do is put him in a form of medically induced coma and ship his ass over to the states where surgeon Dr. Trenton (1930’s and 40’s character actor Kent Taylor) will transplant his brain into a similar looking corpse.

While pretty aces at surgery, the Doc is shitty at schedule making so he sends his monstrous assistant Gor (Bloom) out to fetch a body at the last possible second while he keeps the brain alive via blood his other assistant, Dorro (Rossitto) syphons from pretty women Trenton keeps chained in a hidden dungeon.

Of course ol’ Gor fucks up his task six ways to Sunday, so the Doctor just up and chucks Amir’s brain in Gor’s body… which is never going to fly as Gor looks like mother fucking Sloth from the Goonies and Amir decidedly does not, and the people of Kalid have functioning sight.

Soon Amir is up and none to thrilled about his appearance… yet he now must deal with political intrigue, as well as the machinations of the diabolical doctor!

This is another prime slice of Adamson/Sherman magic filled with all of the greatest hits: aging stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age (or slightly adjacent), some mild sexiness, gore, a monster… hell even Bloom, Carrol, and Vorkov from Dracula vs. Frankenstein appear!

The plot is horror comic book style lunacy at it’s finest, and the earnestness in which it’s presented is what makes the entire affair more fun than a barrel of bats to slap your eerie eyeballs upon!

This disc comes with it’s own set of special features which include another archival Sherman commentary track, a series of interview outtakes from the documentary Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (also available from Severin), the film’s trailer, and a radio spot.

Additionally this release features Dracula vs. Frankenstein‘s soundtrack on a separate CD!

There’s nothing quite like the poverty row epicness of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, and it really should be experienced by all lovers of classic Drive-In cinema… and with the extras and bonus film included with this release there is no better way to do just that!

 

 

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