Monday, May 09, 2011

Dracula Vs. Frankenstein

For a movie titled Dracula vs. Frankenstein, neither monster actually appears in this film all that much. And viewers have to wade through a lot of nonsense to get to the "climactic" final battle between the pair. And by nonsense, of course I mean the plot.

Dr. Duryea (J. Carrol Naish), the last of the Frankenstein clan, is developing a serum derived from the blood of big-tittied hippy-chicks. Apparently big-tittied hippy-chicks who have been scared to death have a unique blood chemistry that allows Duryea to... Well, that's the great thing about the serum. It does so many things.

When injected into Groton (Lon Chaney Jr.), his mute, lumbering (i.e. drunk) sidekick, it turns him into an axe-wielding maniac. (This allows him to chop up more big-tittied hippy-chicks to get their blood for more serum so he can chop up more big-tittied hippy-chicks so he can... Oh, nevermind.) The serum will also calm Groton when he is maniacal, contradicting (and maybe even contraindicating) the previous use. It also keeps decapitated hippy-chicks alive in suspended animation. And it will make Dracula invincible. It's like Gold Bond powder, which, you know, works for both athlete's foot and jock itch.

I'm not sure how Dracula knows all of this, but he shows up at Duryea's lab with the original Frankenstein Monster in tow. Dracula wants Duryea to use the Monster to get revenge upon a former colleague, namely Forrest J. Ackerman. (What? Did Forry say something snarky about him in Famous Monsters of Filmland or something?) What this is supposed to accomplish really isn't clear, and when Duryea balks, Dracula threatens him with his laser-shooting death-ray ring. It's a pretty swank ring, I think they sell them at Tiffany's.

If any of this sounds mildly entertaining or even interesting, don't get too excited. This really encompasses a very small part of the story. It's just bookending for the main story of Vegas chanteuse Judith Fontaine (Regina Carrol) and her search for a wayward little sister lost somewhere in the seedy underbelly of Venice's druggy subculture. She spends the bulk of the movie wandering around with her beatnikish beau Mike haranguing and being harangued by angry midgets, trashy bikers and fascist cops. She even has a "musical" number (The horror! The horror!)

It's probably worth noting that this film actually started production as a biker film, but at some point the filmmakers decided to make it a horror movie. This sort of explains why a bunch of random shit keeps happening, but it really doesn't. I suspect it would have been a mess no matter what. Take for example the Dracula character, who looks like a porn actor (but was in reality the director's stockbroker) and sounds like he's in an echo chamber. Or Lon Chaney, whose throat cancer had rendered him unable to speak, and who is, quite clearly, sauced to the gills. And Regina Carrol, the lead actress, all she's got going for her is big knockers and even bigger hair, and has no business "acting." Do I need mention she is married to director Al Adamson?

Eventually Judith and Mike conclude all the badness around town leads directly back to Duryea's funhouse on the pier. And the funhouse? That is just a front for the doctor's lab. So the pair storms in, discovers the lab and Judith's catatonic sister. Things quickly go downhill from here. Chaos erupts, guns are fired, a midget dies, Groton is snuffed by the cops, and Duryea ends up decapitated by one of his own funhouse exhibits. (That funhouse is so not OSHA approved.)

Then Drac shows up again, roasts Mike with his laser-shooting death-ray ring and abducts Judith.

His plan is to take her back to his hideout in a church (don't ask me), and with the Monster's help, suck her dry. The Monster, as we all know, has a soft spot for the ladies and decides he's not about to let this innocent woman die, despite the fact he himself killed an innocent woman earlier in the film. Maybe her tits weren't as big as Judith's.

Nonetheless Dracula and the Monster finally end up battling it out I'm not going to spoil it and tell you which one ends up victorious. Besides, it's us, the viewers who are the real winners here.

Directed by Al Adamson • GP • 1971 • 90 minutes

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