Mar 12, 2018

Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971)

"It's a real monster mash when they clash!" - It's a cornucopia of vampires, mad scientists, big bosomed nightclub singers, hippies, and Frankenstein's monster.  Let's have a look...

The movie begins with some really nice shots of vintage Vegas.

Check out who's on the Frontier marquee - Judith Fontain.  Who's that, you ask?

Judith Fontain is our main character - a swingin' Vegas performer.  She's played by Regina Carrol, who was in a good number of B-movie fare including Psycho à Go-Go (1967) and Satan's Sadists (1969).  She was also married to this movie's director, Al Adamson.

Regina Carrol deserves a standing O for delivering (and lip syncing) a super-cheesy Vegas nighclub performance that is well worth the price of admission.

Judith meets with Sgt. Martin (Jim Davis) to check on the whereabouts of her younger sister, Joanie.

the scene was used for a lobby card
Sgt. Martin: Your kid sister chose to live with a bunch of hippies out near the beach.  It seems that living near the water brings out the best and worst in us. There's an amusement park just east of the pier.  It's a hangout for pushers and white slavery operators. 
Needless to say, Martin thinks Joanie has come to some bad end living out by the pier with the hippies and white slavers.

Cut to the amusement part, which features some really cool shots of Santa Monica.

A couple of hippies, Strange and Samantha, want to take a ride on the haunted attraction.  The ride is hosted by a midget named Gazbo (Angelo Rossitto) who takes their ticket.

Inside the creepy attraction (filmed at Hollywood Stages in Santa Monica), Strange and Samantha meet a couple of old weirdos - Dr. Durea (an elderly and infirm J. Carrol Naish) and Groton (Lon Chaney, Jr. in his final role).

Strange: C'mon.  Let's get ready for the big protest tonight.
Samantha: What are we protesting tonight?
Strange: I don't know, but I'll bet it's fun.

Strange is played by Greydon Clark who would go on to direct some great cult movies including Black Shampoo, Satan's Cheerleaders and Joysticks. His girlfriend in an impossibly short miniskirt is played by Ann Morell.

Down in Dr. Durea's lab, we learn that the mad scientist is using blood from victims to make a special serum.  When the girls died in a state of fright, the enzymes produced will be used in his diabolical concoction.

Groton takes the topless vicim, Joannie (Judith Fontain's sister) and places her in a cabinet for some reason.

Joanie (naked girl on the left) is played by Maria Lease, who would go on to great success as a script supervisor.  Her credits as script supervisor include Better Off Dead, Hill Street Blues, White Shadow and Lawnmower Man II.   She definitely came a long way from being the dead naked girl in Lon Chaney Jr.'s last film.

Count Dracula (Zandor Vorkov) pays Dr. Durea a visit.  He says he'll deliver him Frankenstein's Monster if he can hook him up with that precious serum (which he hopes will give him immunity to light).

Frankenstein's monster (John Bloom) is resurrected.

The first of the Monster's victims is an old enemy of Dracula's, Dr. Beaumont, played by the great Forrest J. Ackerman.

I'm not real sure why this scene is in here, unless it just served as an opportunity to get every horror fan's hero, Forry, a quick Stan Lee type cameo.

Down at the beach, a young couple, Bob (Gary Kent) and Laura (Connie Nelson) are busy making out, when they hear something.

Oh, it's nothing to worry about.  Just an ax wielding Groton.

Judith is trying to find her sister down at the hippy hangout.  A waiter thinks she's a cop, and slips her some LSD.  She goes into a bad trip, but is rescued by Strange and Samantha.

Strange and Samantha bring Judith to the pad of the hippie leader, Mike (Anthony Eisley) who takes care of her.

Mike, Judith, Strange and Samantha take a tour of the haunted attraction (called The Creature Emporium) down at the amusement park.  Mike remembers that Joanie used to frequent this place.

The gang runs into Dr. Durea.  They hand him a photograph of Joanie, but he says he doesn't recognize her.  Judith doesn't buy his bullshit.

After leaving The Creature Emporium, they run into a biker gang.  Their leader, Rico, used to go out with Samantha, and he wants her back.  Thankfully, the police arrive and the bad bikers scatter.

But that night, Samantha is alone on the beach when she is again confronted by Rico and his crew.

Rico is played by Russ Tamblyn, known for West Side Story, Twin Peaks and a number of other well remembered roles

The bikers corner Samantha beneath a pier and begin to assault her.

But Groton arrives and hacks all of them up with his ax.  He then carries Samantha up to Dr. Durea's lab via a trap door beneath the pier.

Mike and Judith are also around, investigating the area.  They hear a suspicious commotion which leads them to the trap door.... which Mike estimates is right beneath The Creature Emporium!

Mike and Judith make their way into Dr. Durea's lab.  There they find her long lost sister.

The mad doctor is also there and explains "diabolical" plans: to use the serum to make Groto and the midget Gazbo "normal".  Seems like a rather nice plan, actually... if only it didn't involve the whole killing girls bit.

Dr. Durea reveals Samantha on the table, and pulls back the sheet - delivering the film's only real nude scene  (FYI Joannie's boobs were far and out of focus earlier.)

Actress Ann Morell was an actress, but also a record producer (Super Star Fire Records -1979 through 1989) and wrote a regular column for The Enquirer (called Ask Anne Morell).  Morell is also is a "Doctor of Holistic Health" and gives anti-aging seminars.  Morell knew and worked with Elvis in two of his movies:  Tickle Me (1965) and Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966).

Ann Morell
Anyway, shit hits the fan in a big way from this point on.  Groton and Grazbo are unleashed upon Judith and Mike.

Grazbo falls on an ax and dies, Mike kills Dr. Durea, and Groton chases Judith to the top of a building.

Sgt. Martin and Strange arrive.  Martin fills Groton full of lead and he falls off the building like King Kong and dies.

But Judith is by no means out of the woods.  Along comes Count Dracula who ties her up (still on top of the building).

Now freakin' Frankenstein shows up.  Game on.

These lobby cards portraying this scene show Judith wearing a totally different top.  I wish she was actually wearing the one shown in the lobby cards.

Mike arrives and tries to rescue Judith, but Dracula straight-up fries his ass with his magic Dracula-ring.

Dracula has Frankenstein's Monster carry an unconscious Judith to his secret lair, deep in the woods.

This is a promotional still I often saw in horror movie books (way back in the seventies and eighties).  I was always curious about this film which featured such dazzling cleavage in a Frankenstein film.

Disappointingly, this never occurs.  Judith is fainted when Frankenstein's Monster carries her, and she is sadly not even wearing that top.  Worse still, it's too fucking dark to see anything - a very common criticism of this movie's final scenes.

Frankenstein's Monster starts to feel empathy for poor Judith and starts a fight with Dracula.  The two go to battle in the woods; Dracula kills the monster, then dies when exposed to the sunlight.  It is too dark to see a damn thing - nowhere near coming close to the battle promised in the movie poster above.

In the end, Judith frees herself from the ropes, staggers outside and the movie ends.

I fucking loved this movie.  This is one of those films where, if you improved the direction, acting and script, it would lose all of its charm.  You can tell it was made with a lot of heart, and wasn't being awful intentionally.  The film offers us Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr., haunted funhouse rides, hippies, boobs, drugs, Frankenstein's Monster, miniskirts, Vegas, cleavage, bikers, midgets, ax murders, and mad scientists... I couldn't ask for more.


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