Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

General Information

Director: Al Adamson

Writers: William Pugsley and Samuel M. Sherman

Cast: J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney, Zandor Vorkov, Anthony Eisley, Regina Carrol, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis, Angelo Rossitto, Greydon Clark, Anne Morrell, William Bonner, Forrest J. Ackerman, Maria Lease, John Bloom, and Shelly Weiss

Composer: William Lava

Release Date: 9/20/1971

MPAA Rating: GP

 

Overview

Promising to revive the Frankenstein monster (John Bloom), Count Dracula (Zandor Vorkov) approaches Dr. Duryea (J. Carrol Naish)—the last descendant of the original Dracula vs FrankensteinDr. Frankenstein—in the hopes of obtaining his invaluable serum. When things go awry inside the Creature Emporium, the hidden residence of Dr. Duryea and his mute assistant Groton (Lon Chaney), Dracula takes command of the Frankenstein monster—with a disastrous outcome.

The final film of both Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolf Man) and J. Carrol Naish (House of Frankenstein), Dracula vs. Frankenstein pays tribute to the Universal Monster classics of the 1930s. Nevertheless, this production is hampered by atrocious lighting, meandering plot threads, and Z-grade performances.

 

Pros

Dracula vs FrankensteinDespite lacking the power of speech (a cover for Chaney’s deteriorating physical health), Groton conveys a childlike innocence through his brutal veneer. One poignant aspect, for example, centers on the care and affection that Groton displays for his pet puppy—likely a subtle nod to Chaney’s portrayal of Lennie, another “gentle giant” with a love for small dogs.

 

Cons

In addition to its horrifying production values, Dracula vs. Frankenstein contains a bizarre and superfluous biker subplot involving Russ Tamblyn (known for The Haunting,Dracula vs Frankenstein West Side Story, and Toho’s The War of the Gargantuas—a Japanese retelling of the Frankenstein legend). Specifically, the biker action seems ill-suited for a story about classic monsters, mad scientists, and secret experiments conducted in a boardwalk funhouse.

Also worth condemning are the make-up effects for Count Dracula—sporting a ridiculous cape, goatee, and 70s-style afro—and the Frankenstein monster, whom one could easily mistake for the Elephant Man if viewing this film without proper context.

 

Analysis

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Concluding Comments

An appalling crossover film, Dracula vs. Frankenstein should be avoided by all but the most passionate of B-movie fans. While select sequences benefit from a thin layer of atmosphere, science fiction horror buffs will struggle to look past the amateur staging, abrupt editing, and horrendous picture quality that mar this offering from start to finish.

 

Overall Quality: 2/10

 

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3 thoughts on “Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

  1. Actually, Al Adamson’s THE FEMALE BUNCH was Lon’s final performance, his voice sadly reduced to an unrecognizable rasp, shot four months after his scenes for this film.

    • Poor Lon… I knew that The Female Bunch and Dracula vs. Frankenstein were both released in September of 1971, so I just assumed that the latter film marked the official end of his acting career.

  2. He had just been released from the hospital when he filmed his scenes for BLOOD OF FRANKENSTEIN in April-May 1969, well before the footage was reworked with additional scenes featuring Dracula and The Monster. THE FEMALE BUNCH was shot in August at the same Spahn Ranch where the dangerous Manson family were located at the exact time they committed the horrifying Tate-La Bianca murders.