Doctor Frankenstein is loosely based on the character of Victor Frankenstein as first seen in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Nearly every film within the Frankenstein franchise includes some variation of the character, and they are generally portrayed as being an obsessive visionary who creates life by way of galvanism and/or chemical processes. The role of Doctor Frankenstein has been played by such notable actors as Colin Clive, Peter Cushing, Sting, Kenneth Branagh, Alec Newman and many more. The film version(s) of the character has also spawned a family lineage of various descendents, nearly all of whom attempt to recreate their ancestor's work in some way.
Doctor Frankenstein (first name unknown) is the last surviving member of the infamous Frankenstein family. He was raised in Southern California by the Durae family and lived most of his life under that name. He became an influential member of the scientific community, specializing in hematology. Many years ago, a group of his peers discovered the truth about Durae's family heritage and ostracizied him from the scientific community. He was exposed as a Frankenstein and his laboratory was burned to the ground, crippling him in the process.
Durae continued his work however and set up a new laboratory in Venice Beach. The laboratory was located beneath a horror house attraction called Doctor Durae's Creature Emporium. The emporium was filled with various mechanical oddities including giant apes and medieval torture devices including a functional guillotine. The attraction was but a blind however, used to lure young customers inside where he could then abduct them and use them in his experiments.
Durae began working on a process to electrically stimulate blood cells in order to cure physical and mental abnormalities. Further, he believed he could resurrect the dead through trauma-induced energization of the blood. Assisting him in his work was the mute "mad zombie" Groton and a dwarf named Grazbo. Durae would have Groton go out into the night and seek out young women, whom he would decapitate and bring back to the lab. From there, Durae would reattach the severed head to the body and attempt to bring the victim back to life.
In March of 1969, Durae's work took an unexpected turn. The vampire known as Dracula appeared before him, claiming to have recovered the original Frankenstein Monster. He knew that Durae's real name was Frankenstein and promised him that if he allowed Dracula access to his formula, then he would enable him to get revenge upon those who crippled him via the Frankenstein Monster. Durae was unimpressed with Dracula's presence and refused to show fear, but he the possibility of getting revenge against his former colleagues was too tempting to pass up.
Dracula sought out the scientist responsible for burning down Durae's lab and exposing him as a Frankenstein—Doctor Beaumont. He had the monster attack Beaumont and crush him to death in his massive arms.
Meanwhile, a woman named Judith Fontaine had come to Venice Beach from Las Vegas in search of her missing sister, Joanie. Joanie Fontaine was one of several decapitated victims who had been brought to Durae's lab. Judith and her lover, Mike Howard, threatened to expose Durae's work and so the scientist ordered Groton to kill them. Durae tried killing Mike with his pistol and managed to chase him from the laboratory into the corridors of his Creature Emporium. During the fight, Durae's wheelchair slammed into the guillotine, pitching his body forward onto the chopping block. The blade came down and decapitated him.
- Dracula vs. Frankenstein was the final film for actor J. Carrol Naish.
- A popular misconception was that J. Carrol Naish was actually confined to a wheelchair during filming of Dracula vs. Frankenstein. While Naish was in fact extremely ill at the time, he could stand and walk perfectly fine. Production stills of the film featured on the DVD special features shows Naish standing with the other cast members.
- J. Carrol Naish read all of his lines off of cue cards. He also only had one real eye. In close up shots, his right eye can be seen scanning from left to right, indicating that he was reading his lines.