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
Promising to revive the Frankenstein monster (John Bloom), Count Dracula (Zandor Vorkov) approaches Dr. Duryea (J. Carrol Naish)—the last descendant of the original Dr. 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.
Despite 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.
In addition to its horrifying production values, Dracula vs. Frankenstein contains a bizarre and superfluous biker subplot involving Russ Tamblyn (known for The Haunting, 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.
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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