In Defense of … ‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’
It’s considered one of the worst movies ever made — a ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ of the ‘70s. But as many B-movie fans know, ‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ has some, uh, merits.
The movie was released in 1971, and directed by the late Al Adamson, who was considered the Ed Wood of the ‘60s and ‘70s. A lot of B-movie directors like Adamson had long careers where they created a legacy of schlock and never came near the levels of A-list filmmakers.
Adamson was responsible for some of the genre’s most notable movies, like the insane biker film ‘Satan’s Sadists,’ ‘Blood of Dracula’s Castle,’ ‘Hell’s Bloody Devils’ and many others. ‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ is probably his best-known work, and boasts among its legion of fans Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett.
‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ was supposed to be something different at first. It was called ‘The Blood Seekers,’ and it was so bad, it couldn’t be released. So Adamson’s longtime producer, Sam Sherman, decided to add Dracula and Frankenstein to the film — which ended up being a mix of monsters, hippies, bikers, a musical number, an incredible LSD sequence and lots more.
Dracula here is one of the weirdest-looking vampires in cinema history, sporting a ‘fro and goatee. He’s played by Sherman’s stockbroker, Roger Engel, who was given the incomprehensible screen name Zandor Vorkov for the movie.
Adamson also cast his wife, Regina Carroll, who was in most of his movies, along with classic horror stars Lon Chaney, Jr. and J. Carrol Naish in their last roles, Russ Tamblyn (‘West Side Story’), Jim Davis (‘Dallas’), Famous Monsters of Filmland founder Forest J. Ackerman and others, as well as the original lab equipment from 1931’s ‘Frankenstein.’
‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ probably has more bang for the buck than any other classic B movie, and it’s one of the most entertaining bad movies you’ll ever see.
‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ is fairly well known among horror-movie (and late-night) fans because of its numerous TV airings throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Before infomercials took over the after-hours dial, these sorta movies played all the time, and they were a great way to spend a night.
So true B-movie fans know just how exciting oddities like ‘Plan 9′ and the original ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ can be. Adamson’s various disasterpieces — from ‘Satan’s Sadists’ to ‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ — rank among the finest the genre has to offer. Despite its occasional ineptitude, the movie’s flawed charm fights to win you over in the end. And it nearly succeeds.