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Adamson was notorious for reworking previous films (if one is so kind as to call them that) by cutting in new footage, thus creating a new movie. Hence, his 1965 pic Psycho A Go-Go! went on with a bit of reediting to become The Fiend with the Electronic Brain (with added footage featuring Bad Movie god John Carradine). Still later it was mutated into 1971s Blood of Ghastly Horror. Other notable Adamson fiascoes include the sick biker classic Satans Sadists, the putrid brain-transference flick Brain of Blood (a.k.a. Revenge of the Creature) and two of the worst films ever to feature the immortal Count Dracula (and believe me, thats quite an achievement). One is the just plain awful horror comedy Blood of Draculas Castle (featuring Carradine again, although oddly not as the Count). The other is the current object of our attention.
This film had its own fluid origins. Originally, it was conceived as a follow up to the successful (box-office wise, anyway) Satans Sadists. Hence the return of that films star, Russ Tamblyn, despite his having died in the previous picture. Part way through, however, Adamson got the chance to hire down-on-their-luck horror vets J. Carrol Naish and Lon Chaney, Jr. In better days, the two had co-starred in Universals mini-classic The House of Frankenstein (!). The new plot followed Naishs wheelchair bound Mad Scientist, Dr. Durea, as he conducted extremely hard to follow blood serum experiments. This somehow involved sending his insane idiot assistant Groton (Chaney) out to behead young women on the local beach. This shock would do something or another to their blood, and then hed supposedly get his serum. Then, in the midst of shooting, the plot was changed again: Adamson decided to shoehorn the more marketable Count Dracula and Frankenstein Monster into the mix. If you watch the film closely, you can see how little these two characters have to do with the rest of the film. Needless to say, this hodgepodge of elements results in a film that makes little or no sense. But thats OK. Sometimes you just have to let Art wash over you.
Just in case the film was being watched by someone unaware of Adamsons impressive pedigree in the Bad Movie field, we begin with one of those credit sequences that causes even the novice to think, "Uh-oh!" Start with the really, really bad 70s synth horror music that plays over the credits. Meanwhile, overexposed frames (to look like drawings) of various scary scenes and elements wash across the screen. Getting a load of the movies inane conceptions of Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster, even as drawings, confirms that we are in for a major league turkey. These are alternated with shots of circuit boards, meant, I suppose, to represent the mad Super-Science of Dr. Durea. (Wow. Awesome.) An added bonus is the highlighting of Draculas ring. This object plays a (stupid) part in the film, and was apparently constructed for its appearance here. Unfortunately, this piece of jewelry is rather less spooky (and rather more goofy) than Adamson must have thought. For lovers of Bad Opening Credit Sequences, this film is only surpassed by the execrable MegaForce. Still, its a surprisingly close call.
We open at the night shrouded environs of Oakmoor Cemetery. Ooh, scary! We can barely see a cloaked figure (hmm, who could that be?) unearthing a coffin. Inside, we see the body and lumpy face of the Frankenstein Monster, represented by what is absolutely the worst Frankenstein Monster make-up in the history of motion pictures. Suddenly, just when we most expect it, a guard approaches. His flashlight flashes across Dracula. As portrayed by actor Zandor Vorkov (!!), Dracula here looks much like Frank Zappa, complete with Afro and mustachioed goatee, and adorned with the shiniest white mime makeup youve ever seen. Dracula attacks, and when the guard hits the ground, the camera zooms in. Because of this, we cant help but notice that the fang marks on the guys neck are all wrong. Theyre much too close together. This impression is confirmed by a cut to Dracula, whose plastic fangs are two to three times farther apart than the bite marks shown here. Oh, and just in case any of this sounded even marginally exciting, well, its not. Adamsons lethargic direction and pokey editing drain more life from this sequence than Dracula does from his victim.
We cut to nighttime stock footage of an amusement park. We see a young woman walking down a stairway onto the lonely beach, supposedly located under the stock footage. Youd think shed see how someone is overusing the dry ice machine at the bottom of the stairs and turn back around. But, of course, they never do. Walking under the boardwalk, through the dense, uh, fog, she shivers and gives apprehensive looks. Again, if shes nervous, then why is she walking under the pier alone at night? Suddenly, someone, or something (bum bum bum!!) approaches her through the mist. We cut to an upraised axe, the girl screams, the axe descends, and a somewhat less than totally convincing decapitated head lands on the sand. Then, as you would expect, we cut to stock footage of Las Vegas.
Now the horror truly begins, as an untalented female is heard warbling an obnoxious little song. To our dismay, we cut to the source of this caterwauling, one Judy Fontaine. She and two male backup singers proceed to perform, at length, a notably lame song and dance number. Fontaine, complete with giant blond hair and big bouncing boobs, is portrayed by the amazing Regina (rhymes with , oh, never mind) Carroll. Not only is this lady an, uh, uniquely talented songstress, but she just happened to be Mrs. Al Adamson. Coincidentally, Ms. Carrolls most famous role prior to this flick was as the Freak Out Girl in Satans Sadists.
When this interminable musical interlude finally finishes, we cut to stock footage of an audience lustfully clapping. I assume that theyre applauding the fact that theyre not actually in this movie, and so didnt really have to sit through Ms. Carrolls musical stylings. In her dressing room, Judy opens a telegram. For some reason, this scene is accompanied by inexplicable "Laugh-In" style music. The note, from a Sgt. Martin, informs her that her sister, Joanie, is still missing. Prominent in Judys dressing area is one of those Styrofoam heads you put wigs on. Perhaps this is meant as a blackly humorous clue that her sister was the decapitee we saw earlier. If so, this is by far the wittiest thing in the movie. One thing is sure, though: The Styrofoam head on display here is only marginally more fake looking than the head we saw hit the sand.
Judy, wearing a garish fur coat, is next seen with Sgt. Martin. As they leave his office, we cant help noticing the red door stenciled with Sgt. Martin in sloppy, uneven white lettering. When films cant do something like door signage properly, well, thats generally a bad sign (see also Double Agent 73). They walk down a hallway to a door stenciled as "IDENTIFICATION". Amazingly, here all the letters are lined up evenly. Inside, this high-tech crime fighting center consists of two desks and some wall shelving holding two sets of home encyclopedias and a couple of small cardboard filing boxes. Theyve obviously got crime on the run in this burg. Martin browbeats his guest, telling her to go home and leave things to the authorities. Judy, needless to say, reveals her intentions to hang around and look for her sister. This scene is enjoyable due to the conspicuous lack of acting talent on either end. Martin reveals that Joanie was living with (*gasp*) some "hippies" on the beach. "It seems that living near the water brings out the best and worst in us," he notes. (?)
We cut to some stock footage of a boardwalk. Of course, the stock footage shows voluminous crowds, while the newly shoot footage only features a few cast members. A hippie couple, Strange and Samantha, stop to listen to Grazbo the dwarf extolling the awesome frights contained in Dr. Dureas Creature Emporium. This is supposed to be a House of Horrors, but it proves to be more of a House of Borers. Strange looks like a thirty-five year old Gary Shandling, wearing an especially ugly hippie outfit. This ensemble includes a red open-necked shirt matched with black and white zebra pants. Meanwhile, Samantha spots the rather portly Rico, a local biker and all around no-good-nik. Rico is played by Russ Tamblyn, who once starred in actual, you know, movies, like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and West Side Story. Hoping to avoid an unpleasant scene, she pulls Strange into the exhibit. Grazbo charges them a buck admission, and then proceeds to eat the dollar. Lets just say that they wont have to explicate this amazing illusion on a future edition of Magics Secrets Revealed!
Inside they are treated to about the most desultory collection of horrors imaginable. In spite of this, the couple reacts by gasping and shrinking back from the purportedly terrifying exhibits. This seems unlikely, unless they happen to suffer from a very specific phobia: the fear of listening to a midget spouting gibberish in a darkened room. Just to give you an idea of the films budget, the tableaus feature actors in cheap frightmasks and cheaper make-up jobs. Apparently, they couldnt afford actual, you know, mannequins.
First up is a guy in a really bad Ape Man suit, holding the bloody corpse of a girl who we see moving in a distinctly un-mannequin like fashion. (This is ironic, given that most of the actors here act like mannequins when theyre supposed to be people.) "Theres more to come," Grazbo chortles. Which youd kind of expect, given that theyve only seen one exhibit so far. The next exhibit, instead of featuring a half-man/half-ape holding the swooning body of a girl, portrays a gorilla, holding the swooning body of a girl. Man, that Dr. Durea has some imagination! Next is a guy in a two dollar novelty mask (clearly Lon Chaney, Jr., much to both his embarrassment and ours), grunting behind some phony prison bars. Things continue on for some time, including an appearance by Durea himself (see IMMORTAL DIALOG) , until our twosome are safely back in the sunlit world.
Dr. Durea then rides his little elevator down to his secret lab. There he greets Groton. This is another embarrassing scene for Lon Chaney, Jr. fans, as Groton the idiot is playing happily with a puppy. In other words, Chaney is still doing Lenny from Of Mice and Men, a role he played some thirty years earlier. Chaney, who at this point was suffering from throat cancer (which also killed Chaney, Sr.), can only nod or shake his head in response to Dureas queries. Durea rolls over to a medical gurney, atop of which lies a sheet enshrouded form. We take the opportunity to peruse his table display of scientific apparatus: a bubbling beaker complete with your standard dry ice enhanced liquid and a test tube holder. Wow, the March of Science is indeed an unstoppable juggernaut.
Durea begins a truly inane speech (see IMMORTAL DIALOG). The body on the table proves to be Joanie. Oddly, Durea has not only reattached her head, but somehow brought her back to life. Only the fact that shes drugged keeps her on the table. Although, personally, Id think anybody who could recover from decapitation could shrug off a Mickey Finn. But what do I know? Anyway, having gone through this process, Joanies body is manufacturing the blood serum Durea needs. But not in the quantities Durea requires.
Groton moves the somnolent Joanie off the table. He puts her naked body in a sort of stand-up box, next to another woman in a similar state. The bodies are held in by slats that are, shall we say, strategically placed. Then Groton climbs onto the table, and Durea gives him an injection of the blood serum. This turns him into a sort of Mr. Hyde type madman. (Uh, what exactly is this serum supposed to do again?) This awesome transformation is realized by adorning Chaney with some prosthetic pimples and greenish face makeup. Groton grabs his axe and descends to the beach via a ladder. This lowers through a trapdoor set in the laboratory floor.
Back upstairs, Durea finds Dracula lurking in his exhibit hall. (Wow, its all starting to come together, huh!). Durea oddly fails to comment on how his mysterious (and goofy) visitor seems to be talking through a echo chamber (!!). This just seems like something youd mention. Dracula reveals Dureas secret: hes "the last living member of the family Frankenstein." (Oh, brother!) Jeez, youd think all the last Frankensteins would get together and have a convention or something. Dracula reveals his knowledge of Dureas past, how he was discredited by members of the "Medical Institute." The Count explains that its Dureas destiny, as the latest of the last of the Frankensteins, to re-reanimate his ancestors creation. Dracula reveals that he has located the Monster, and now possesses it. It had been hidden away years ago by none other than Dureas nemesis, Dr. Beaumont. Fearing that Durea would learn of his secret, Beaumont not only had him drummed out of his profession, but started the fire that crippled him as well.
Durea refuses to knuckle under to Draculas orders, noting that he lives "beyond fear." Dracula then reveals a rather ludicrous new wrinkle. It turns out that his ring can shoot out cartoon rays. These cause a nearby rag to burst into flames, with Durea staring aghast at the sight. Frankly, though, I dont see that this is much more frightening than if Dracula threatened him with a can of gasoline and a cigarette lighter. So much for living beyond fear. Dracula promises that, once revived, the Monster will also wreak revenge on Dureas behalf. "And all those who would meddle in the destinies of Frankenstein and Dracula," he reverberates, "will see an infernal bloodbath the likes of which has not swept the Earth before!!" (Uh, would that include, say, the Black Plague? Or World War II?)
Out on the beach, a couple is necking. We are now subjected to an utterly typical nervous girl hears noises while the guy tries to get into her pants scene. This is intercut with shots of the mutated Groton, who appears to be standing about three feet away from them, axe at the ready. Needless to say, this scene is soon cut short. (Get it? Cut short! Ha ha ha!!) Then we cut to the "Big Protest." With-it kids are carrying awkwardly lettered signs, featuring strangely generic anti-establishment slogans like Let us have our freedom! and Youth have rights too! This hep assembly is accompanied by groovy guitar music.
This sets up (sort of) a segue to a really lame hippie/biker bar, complete with bad music and awful decor. Slogans like POT and SOCIETY SUCKS are painted on the wall, presumably to blow the minds of any squares who might wander in. Groovy young kids, both Black and White (I can dig it!) dance to some nondescript tunes. Judy pops in, continuing her search for her sister. She shows Joanies picture to the waiter, whose forehead is garnished with a hilariously bogus giant scar. The photo is a full body shot of Joannie taken from roughly ten feet away, meaning that her face is about a half an inch tall. He denies any knowledge of her. Then she asks if he knows Rico (a name she got from the police), and again he pleads ignorance. However, we soon see him conferring with Rico himself.
Rico gives the guy some LSD to slip into Judys drink. Right quick, Judy is experiencing a not-very psychedelic freak-out. She dances around, while flashing intercuts represent her fragmented hallucinations (ah, the miracle of the freeze frame!): Judy, wearing a sort of yarn almost-dress, is hanging in a giant spiders web Judy, wearing a black gauzy bodysuit, is writhing on a red-sheeted circular bed Judy, wearing some kind of pink filmy number, is running on a beach a darkly lit close-up of (I think) Judy on the circular bed Judy in the spider web again another long shot of her on the circular bed another close-up on the bed white gloved hands grabbing a womans leg on a ladder that just happens to look exactly like the one in Dr. Dureas lab an extreme zoom shot into the torso of a woman wearing a silver dress Judy again on the beach Judy again in the web well, you get the idea (or lack thereof). This goes on, featuring distorted music (like you can tell) and recurring shots of a flashing light panel to increase the, like, general way-outedness of it all. Luckily, Strange, now wearing a poncho over his zebra pants, and Samantha show up and hustle her to safety. Why? IITS (Its In The Script).
Next, after a few stock shots of a lightning storm, we cut to Dureas lab. In spite of the cheapness of the set itself, some of the scientific equipment is both pretty cool and oddly familiar. (I dont mean the goofy master control unit, which comes complete with colored radio tubes that flash on and off like Christmas lights.) Thats because it was provided by Kenneth Strickfadden, who created the stuff for the original 1931 Universal Studios production of Frankenstein (!). That whizzing sound you hear is probably Boris Karloff spinning in his grave. On the table lies the Monster, well lit so as to give us a really good look at his abysmal make-up. He looks sorta like an Oliver Hardy who has been stung in the face by a couple of hundred bees. As another kick in the head to fans of the classic Universal monster movies, the music here is a thinly disguised yet horribly mangled rip-off of some of the classic Universal film scores.
However, they make sure we realize that were not watching a Universal flick (no problem there!) by including a ridiculous and utterly gratuitous plot device. Dracula starts pontificating about some comet that somehow is part of the Monsters revival process (huh?!). This comet supposedly appeared when the Monster was first animated, and it just happens to be due to make its next appearance any moment now. This is a concept that owes more to the Mexican horror laughfest The Brainiac than any version of Frankenstein that I ever saw. In fact, I have no sooner written that last sentence than a hilariously bogus comet is shown streaking across the sky. This, definitely, is right out of The Brainiac. Anyway, long story short, the Monster comes awake (which is more than you can say for the audience).
We cut to Dr. Beaumont getting into his car. To the further chagrin of classic horror fans, Beaumont turns out to be an amateurish cameo by Famous Monsters of Filmland founder Forrest J. Ackerman. Presumably, it was through Ackerman that the film was able to access Ken Strickfaddens electrical props. Beaumont, driving, is shocked to find his passenger seat suddenly occupied by Dracula. The nervous medico asks the Counts identity (and also becomes the latest character not to mention the vampires echo-chamber voice). "I am known as the Count of Darkness," Dracula replies, "the Lord of the Manor of Corpathia."
Now, not only are those the lamest Dracula nicknames that Ive ever heard, but, well, shouldnt that be Carpathia? Not that thats a word either, but at least it sort of sounds like a derivative of the Carpathians, a mountain range that runs through Transylvania. Anyway, Dracula directs Beaumont where to go, while Ackerman randomly turns the steering wheel in an unsuccessful attempt to look like hes actually driving a car. Pulling onto a side street, Beaumont exits the car just in time to be crushed by the waiting Monster. Still, he makes sure that his flailing arms never connect with the Monsters face, lest he dislodge large chunks of the doughy make-up. Im sure that this description fails to convey just how lamely this whole sequence plays, but words can only do so much.
The next day, Judy wakes up in a strange yet groovy apartment. Its the home of Mike Howard, a middle aged hippie, who tells her that its, yes, his "pad." Here we have definitive proof that hippie fashions look even stupider on people in their thirties than on teenagers. Mike sports tight white pants, a tan turtleneck pullover and a beaded animal tooth necklace. He reveals that he knew Joanie, but has no idea of her current location. Taking Judy outside, we see that Mike lives (of course) on the beach. Strange and Samantha are frolicking nearby. Mike continues using cliché idiom, saying things like, "Thats my bag." Apparently, hes a writer (or something). Just then an extra runs on with some expository dialog. A man was found all chopped up on the beach, and his girlfriend is missing. "Man, its a real bummer," the guy notes. Hmm, could this tie in with the missing Joanie? Oh, and to pad the film a little we watch a few stock shots of surfboarders.
To Judys chagrin, Mike reveals that Joannie hung around the boardwalk, fantasizing about being "a freak." "Two heads, an eye missing, an elongated spine," he continues, "anything that was grotesque turned her on. But that wasnt the whole story." No, for she wanted to use a magical formula to transform the grotesque into the beautiful. In connection with this she spent a lot of time at the Creature Emporium. Is any of this making sense to you yet? If so, Id be very worried. Anyway, Mike, Judy, Strange and Samantha (who are starting to remind me of the Mystery Machine gang from Scooby Doo) are soon in front of Dureas place. Strange tells Samantha that he isnt worried about her safety. "You know how to go invisible," he joshes. "Only from the waist down," she sexily replies. (Huh?)
They go inside, following the tape recorded spiel. Unbeknownst to them, Dracula is lurking in the background. The order of exhibits is different this time, starting with a dummy getting beheaded by a guillotine. When we cut to the, uh, actors, they are supposed to be watching this. However, the director apparently never told them where exactly the guillotine was supposed to be, because theyre all looking in different directions. The tape mentions that, had this been a real beheading, they would have noticed a lack of blood. I guess that this is the scripts sly way of explaining why, when Groton beheads his victims, their blood doesnt fountain out their severed necks. That would, presumably, rather detract from their ability to change their blood chemistry when their heads are reattached (or whatever the hell is supposed to happen here). Now, Im no doctor, but Id have to assume that a beheading would, in fact, result in quite a bit of bloodshed.
Dr. Durea rolls in, startling our heroes. More choice dialog proceeds. Durea notes that he is always in the Emporium, at least in spirit. "Especially in this room, since all of these creatures are byproducts of my mind," he boasts (if thats the right word). I guess he means the gorilla and the guillotine. Hmm, what other horrific beasts or devices might spring forth from his fertile, macabre imagination? Perhaps a fantastical giant striped cat with massive claws and teeth. Or some kind of diabolical furniture that slays its occupant with a deadly electrical charge. Judy notes that her missing sister visited his establishment. Durea replies that many young people come to him, " to study the mysteries of the arcult." The what? What, nobody on the set knew that the word is occult? More likely they just didnt have the budget to reshoot the scene. Or maybe they didnt really care (Bingo!). Judy says that Joanie was last seen right by the Emporium, a fact not previously mentioned. Durea suddenly realizes that Sis is down in his lab, but plays dumb (insert your own joke here). Although suspicious, our gang realizes that they wont get anything more out of him, so they split.
Out in the alley, theyre accosted by Rico and a couple of his henchmen, riding in on their hogs (thats motorcycles for you non-hep types). It turns out that Samantha was a motorcycle mama in Ricos gang, and that once in, you stay in. Perhaps actor Russ "Rico" Tamblyn is remembering better days, when he starred in West Side Story. You know, "When youre a Jet, you are always a Jet " Anyway, Rico and his crude dudes begin hassling our foursome when a police cruiser comes by. Warning Samantha that next time will be different, Rico and crew ride off. And whos in the cop car? Why, its none other than Sgt. Martin! What a coincidence! Martin gets out from about ten feet away and watches Rico ride off. Then Judy comes over. "Did you see those motorcyclists?" she asks. What is he, Mr. Magoo? Martin again advises Judy to quit her investigation. "If youve got a fireplace, burn some wood in it. Itll be a lot better than running loose on the streets." Yes, well, now its perfectly clear. Thank you, Sergeant.
Uh, oh! Its the inevitable romantic montage scene. Judy and Mike holding hands while walking on the beach. An insipid love ballad on the soundtrack. Seagulls. Ocean waves. More seagulls. (I didnt say it was a good romantic montage.) At the end, they sit on the beach, watching the ocean. Judy says how beautiful it is here, being with someone so nice. "Its about time you admitted it," Mike replies. Yeah, its been, like, what, a whole day since she woke up in his house. I mean, you cant expect a guy to wait forever, even if you are searching for your missing sister! Anyway, he doesnt have to wait any longer. The couple clinches, then the fade-out. Footage of pounding waves (apparently they didnt have any footage of towering smokestacks or trains entering tunnels) subtly indicates that theyve done the deed. Time for this whole romance sequence: two minutes. Yeah, boy, that was important to the story.
Back at the lab, Dr. Durea is tinkering around with one of his subjects, pretending to be scientific and everything. Things are apparently coming along swimmingly. Unfortunately, Groton picks that very moment to have a Mr. Hyde-type spaz-out. He begins transforming, and Durea is forced to inject him with some of the precious serum in order to calm him down. (Note: Please ignore the fact that earlier in the film, Durea injected Groton with the serum to cause the transformation, not to halt it.) Groton ends up looking mighty satisfied, while Durea is extremely peeved. Meanwhile, back on the beach, Mike and Judy are still talking. Their clothes are on, but Mikes smoking a cigarette (wink, wink). Judy comes to the conclusion that maybe its time to let Joanie live her own life (oops, too late). Mike, however, has concluded that Durea and the Creature Emporium are tied into all the recent mysterious events.
We cut to an anonymous couple making out in a car on a secluded road. In case you dont get to see many horror movies, this isnt a good sign. Sure enough, the Monster pops up and soon has the car door off in his hands, like that guy in the Victory Auto Wreckers commercial. (Note: This reference will only make sense to Chicagoland area TV viewers. The Management apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.) Dumping the guy on the ground, the Monster grabs the woman. Her beau tries to counterattack, with predictable results. Just then, a police car drives up. A couple of cops jump out and confront the Monster. After the obligatory firing shots to no avail scene, one of the cop pulls my favorite stupid attack maneuver. This is the one where, having ascertained that your target is bulletproof, you run up and try to bop it one with the handle of your sidearm. Does anyone think that physically grappling with a guy whos proven to be invulnerable to bullets is a good idea? Anyway, after a pretty perfunctory fight scene, the Monster reclaims his distaff prize and shuffles off. By the way, this scene has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the picture.
Next we see Judy on the beach. Ignoring the fact that shes an idiot for going there at night, what with all of the murders and everything, Im left wondering why she hasnt been intercepted by the cops. Arent they patrolling the site of all these horrible crimes? Apparently not. A hand suddenly (and awkwardly) appears in frame, grabbing her shoulder. But, ha ha, its only Mike! Whew! What a relief from all the tension. Maybe a cat will jump out at them next. Heading to where the Creature Emporium would be, Mike examines the bottom of the boardwalk. I guess the police didnt think of that. Mike almost immediately spots the trap door from Dureas lab. Judy starts whining about how she wants to leave. Mike agrees, wondering what to do about his find. (Uh, tell the police?) Then Judy sits down two feet from where she was just nervously mewling. There they stop and engage in a fairly lengthy conversation. Why? IITS.
Somewhere else on the beach, Samantha is hanging out, spending a cheerful night alone on Death Beach. Why? IITS. Rico and his hoods show up. (Again, why arent the cops patrolling the beach? And exactly where in relation to Samantha are Judy and Mike?) After an awkwardly filmed hide and seek scene, Rico catches hold of Samantha, preparing to have his way with her. Yep, nothing like a rape scene for pure entertainment! Unfortunately, this goes on for some length. Fortunately, Groton shows up and whacks (literally) Ricos rather smallish gang before the real activities start. Samantha passes out (or something). Groton grabs her and heads back to the lab. As he climbs the ladder, Mike asks Judy if she heard something (why are they still on the beach?). This doesnt exactly indicate cat-like hearing. After all, the last we saw they were less than a yard away from the trapdoor.
Mike gets up to investigate, telling Judy to stay put. Roughly five seconds after he leaves, Judy comes running up to him. "I just couldnt stay there by myself anymore," she explains. Yeah, was he going to leave her there forever? Under the trapdoor they find Samanthas locket in the sand. They wonder what to do. For the last time, let me suggest that this might be the time to call in the police. No? Well, dont blame me then. Mike runs topside and enters the Creature Emporium, buffaloing over Grazbo. Judy shows up and Grazbo points her inside. Almost immediately finding the door to the secret lab, Mike and Judy head down there. Spotting the comatose bodies, Judy spies Joanie and runs over. Durea, speaking over the PA system, reveals that shes alive and well. Then he reveals that they have been chosen to join in on the experiment.
Groton appears and blocks off retreat. Then Durea wheels in and pulls a sheet off the unconscious Samantha. A breast is also exposed for audience amusement, a prime example of way too little, way, way too late. Durea explains that Samantha has experienced a "remarkable cellular conversion," the result of seeing Rico and Co., hacked up by Groton. This has resulted in her blood containing exactly the correct components to complete Dureas serum. Even more amazingly, Durea somehow figured all this out in the roughly three to five minutes since Mike heard Groton carry Samantha into the lab. Durea explains that when Judy sees Mikes death, a similar reaction to occur in her. "And when you witness the sudden death of your lover," Durea explains, "the traumatic shock will draw the reservoirs of blood into a single electric stream. You will feel yourself lifted to a new plateau. And this physical resurrection will be the beginning of a new life for yourself. And others. Mainly my friends here." Mike and Judy look up to see Groton and the axe wielding Grazbo moving in for the kill.
However, in an extraordinarily clumsy, and amusing, bit of business, Mike accidentally trips the lever to the trapdoor. Grazbo has been standing over it, and drops the axe below as he grabs onto the ladder. However, his wee hands are too small to procure a hold. He then manages to fall in such a way as to land face first on the axe blade, protruding up from the sand below. I really cant convey in words how awkwardly all this is shot, so youll just have to take my word for it. Lets just say that its not quite the moment of horror that the director probably envisioned. Then theres the fact that the rest of the characters all have horrified reaction close-ups. This is somewhat odd. After all, Grazbo fell through the trapdoor and out of their sight, so theres simply no way any of them could be aware of his fate. Grazbos death causes Durea to repeatedly shout, "They must all die!!" Yeah, both of all of them. Judy runs for it and Groton pursues her. Durea grabs a convenient revolver and goes after Mike. He manages to wing him, then rides his elevator up to continue the pursuit.
Upstairs, Durea takes another shot at Mike and runs out of bullets. To give the film credit, they did give Durea exactly six shots, which would be right. Durea, unarmed, panics. Attempting to wheel his way out of there, he somehow gets entangled with the guillotine exhibit and gets himself beheaded. (Wow, the irony, huh.) This scene is even more awkwardly shot than the Grazbo falling on the axe bit. First we see a stuntman wheel into the side of the guillotine. Then they cut to actor Naishs upper torso jammed halfway through the guides of the guillotine (which would be impossible from the angle that he hit it). Then a quick shot of the blade descending. Then, all of the sudden, Dureas head, represented by a pathetically obvious dummy head, is somehow in the exactly the right position to get lopped off. Finally, we cut to a classic actors head jutting through a hole in the floor shot to represent his astray cranium, as shock music plays to emphasize the moment. Oh, the horror of it all!
Up on the roof, Groton is chasing Judy. However, Strange and Sgt. Martin are investigating nearby. Martin, seeing Groton, draws his sidearm. Amazingly, his gun just happens to be the exact same model as Dureas. What are the odds, huh? Showing miraculous marksmanship, Martin somehow manages to fire up three floors and hit the running Groton. Groton pitches over the side (has anyone shot on top of a building ever not fallen over the side?). Down on the ground, hes nuzzled by his cute little puppy. Ah, the pathos! And lets not overlook that this is exactly the way The Beast of Yucca Flats ended.
Unfortunately for Judy (and us, because it means the movies not over yet), Dracula appears on the roof and mesmerizes her. He takes her up some stairs. Suddenly, shock music from Creature of the Black Lagoon blares out. This music somehow ended up in the public domain, appearing in many other turkeys like They Saved Hitlers Brain and Women of the Prehistoric Planet. Now, youd expect that this blaring musical cue would herald something scary, like the lumbering Monster coming to kill her. Instead, and laughably anticlimactically, Dracula pops back into frame with some rope to tie Judy up with. Wow. Chills.
Down in his car, Mike is rummaging around for a weapon. The best he can come up with is a road flare. Back topside (where are the cops during all of this? I guess they just went home), Dracula releases Judy from his mental hold. He plans to re-create Dureas experiment. "Your fear will fully energize the molecular structure of your blood," the Count of Darkness explains. Once this occurs, he will drink her blood, allowing it to do its magic. The Monster lumbers over. Judy screams, apparently terrified of really bad makeup designs. Then Mike shows up. Dracula reveals that the blood serum will make him invulnerable (presumably to sunlight, although they could explain this better). Ranting on like some third-rate Bond villain, Dracula explains that he will raise an army of the living dead and, yes, take over the world. (Has anyone ever figured out why anyone would want to rule the world?)
The Monster attacks Mike (so that Judy can witness his death, yada yada). However, Mikes flare temporarily blinds the Monster, and its soon grappling with Dracula by mistake. While this less than epic struggle proceeds, Mike unties Judy and they run away. However, in a moment sure to shock modern viewers, Dracula untangles himself from the Monster and fries Mike with his goofy deathray ring. Lest anyone give the filmmakers too much credit, however, for a truly shocking plot development, lets put things into perspective.
Dracula vs. Frankenstein was produced in the period of the late 60s/early 70s, post the release of George Romeros seminal Night of the Living Dead. That picture once and for all shattered the rules of the classic horror flick. For a brief second, it seemed to herald a new era of freedom for horror movies. Unfortunately, many filmmakers decided that it was easier to just ape Night of the Living Dead than to write an original script. This resulted in a parade of films that mimicked Romeros flick as blindly as earlier filmmakers had followed the previous eras conventions. And, unfortunately, one of the aspects that many copied was Night of the Living Deads nihilism. All of the sudden, heroes and heroines were meeting gruesome fates left and right. What seemed like an authentic artistic statement in that movie, though, soon become tiresome and depressing when applied to an entire slew of lesser movies. This resulted in a particularly unpleasant period of horror films. So the killing of Mike wouldnt have been as shocking to contemporary audiences as, say, James Whitmores death in 1954s Them!
In any case, Judy faints at the sight of Mikes flaming corpse, and we fade out. Next we see a somewhat gothic looking house. Dracula and the Monster, carrying Judy, show up and head inside. Taking Judy to a candle lit section of the house, Dracula proceeds to tie her up, prior to drinking her energized blood. As Dracula wanders around, the Monster comes over and strokes Judys hair. Gee, will he fall in love with her and battle Dracula to protect her? Dracula finally comes over and prepares to put the bite on her. But the Monster intercedes. Apparently, hes fallen in love with her, and will battle Dracula to protect her. Taking care to separate Drac from his ring, the Monster knocks him outside. Dracula retreats for a while, not wanting to have to destroy the Monster. Finally, though, deep in the woods, he turns to make his stand.
The title bout begins, although its so poorly lit as to be barely seeable. "Ill destroy you piece by piece as Dr. Frankenstein created you!" Dracula warns. He proceeds to do just that, in a scene that appears to have been the inspiration for the Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Soon, both of the Monsters arms have been ripped off. Then Dracula pulls his head off, holding it aloft and gloating. He has little time to savor his victory however, for dawn is dawning. The Count jogs back to shelter, but is ultimately trapped in the rays of the sun. After a less than brilliant disintegration sequence, Judy stumbles from the house, replaying scenes from the movie (including ones she didnt see) in her mind. She ends up tossing the Counts ring onto his ashes. This apparently was to set up a sequel. Astoundingly, such a script was actually written, as documented in Don Gluts great tome, The Dracula File). Luckily for humanity, we were spared this indignity.
Its tough to award a single Bad Acting trophy here. This being the film that knowledgeable Chicago Horror Host the Son of Svengoolie referred to as the "Super Bowl of Bad Acting." After all, Chaney couldnt talk; the hammy Naish was too much of a frail old man for me to pick on that much; the hideously poor Dracula performance by Zandor Vorkov (!), filled with the most blatant mugging imaginable, perhaps looks worse than it is because of that stupid echo chamber voice thing (although probably not); John Bloom makes the stumbling of the Monster, about all he does here, look phony; Russ Tamblyn looks disengaged and mildly drunk all the time, and who can blame him? Ultimately, Id have to give the respective acting awards to Jim Davis, the guy who stiltedly played Sgt. Martin, and, of course, the fabulous Regina Carroll. Thanks for the memories, people!
Sgt. Martin tries to bore Our Heroine out of town by relating his nonsensical theories about the Nature of Man:
Martin: "Theres an
amusement park just east of the pier. Its a hangout for pushers and white slavery
operators. Oh, yeah, weve still got em around. And youd be surprised
just how many young girls come out here, just hoping to get involved in all this kind of
stuff. Heres some shots. Murder. Rape. Beatings. Now maybe you ask yourself a
question. Why do all these terrible things have to happen? Well, it took me twenty one
years of my twenty two on this business to get the answer. And at last I have it!"
Grazbo begins the following lecture to Strange and Samantha at the House of Horrors. Ooh, spooky! Still, like any master of the Cinema Macabre, Adamson knows how to horrify us, but then let us breath easy with some inspired comic relief:
Grazbo: "Come right in! Do not
be afraid, this is Dr. Dureas Creature Emporium! Before you, you will see sights
that you will not believe! But I assure you that each and every one of them is true, and
has happened many times in history!"
Lecturing Groton, the presumably high Dr. Durea explicates
his unique philosophical views and the hard, cold scientific facts behind his blood serum:
Later on, Dr. Durea further expounds upon the science
behind his amazing blood serum, before going off on a more personal tangent:
Review by Ken Begg