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Dracula vs. Frankenstein

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"They have seen all the illusions in my creature emporium, but they have yet to face the greatest illusion: the illusion of reality."
Doctor Frankenstein
Dracula vs. Frankenstein
Dracula vs. Frankenstein
Directed By
Produced By
Al Adamson; Samuel M. Sherman
Written By
William Pugsley; Samuel M. Sherman
Starring
Lon Chaney, Jr.
J. Carrol Naish;
Zandor Vorkov
John Bloom
Cinematography
Paul Glickman and Gary Graver
Editing By
Irwin Cadden
Distributed By
Troma Entertainment; Independent-International Pictures
Release Date(s)
Runtime
90 min.
Country
USA
Language
English
[[Category:Troma Entertainment; Independent-International Pictures]] Dracula vs. Frankenstein is an independent American film produced by Independent-International Pictures (later distributed by Troma Entertainment) in 1971 and directed by Al Adamson. It is the only I.I.P. film to utilize characters from an existing franchise. Dracula vs. Frankenstein was inspired by the "monster-mash" team-up films of the 1940s, notably 1943's Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Dracula vs. Frankenstein is noted as being the last film appearances of actors Lon Chaney, Jr. and J. Carrol Naish. Chaney and Naish also starred together in the 1944 Universal Pictures film House of Frankenstein.

Cast

ActorRole
J. Carrol Naish Doctor Durae
Lon Chaney, Jr. Groton
Zandor VorkovDracula
John BloomFrankenstein's Monster
Shelly WeissFrankenstein's Monster (reshot scenes)
Anthony EisleyMike Howard
Regina CarrolJudith Fontaine
Greydon ClarkStrange
Angelo RossittoGrazbo
Anne MorrellSamantha
Russ TamblynRico
Jim DavisSgt. Martin
Forrest J. AckermanDoctor Beaumont
Maria LeaseJoanie Fontaine
Gary KentBob
Bruce KimballBiker
William BonnerBiker
Albert ColePolice officer
Irv SaundersPolice officer
Barney GelfanCemetery caretaker

Plot

Dracula (Dracula vs. Frankenstein)
Dracula
Brian KurtzAdded by Brian Kurtz

At Oakmoor Cemetery, the vampire Dracula exhumes the remains of the Frankenstein Monster. A caretaker stumbles upon them and Dracula bites him upon the throat, killing him.

At a nearby amusement park, a girl named Joanie Fontaine is walking beneath the pier of a fog-shrouded boardwalk. From out of nowhere, a man with an ax appears and lops off her head.

Meanwhile, Judith Fontaine performs her act at a Las Vegas casino. After the performance, she receives a telegram from a Sergeant Martin of Venice, California, with regards to the missing persons report on her sister, Joanie. She goes to Martin's office to discuss the case, but the sergeant is particularly reassuring. He explains how the neighborhood piers and surrounding areas are increasingly violent, and how dozens of young women suffer unspeakable tortures there. In his mind, people suffer these indignities because deep down, they want to suffer them.

Elsewhere, two teenagers named Strange and Samantha walk the boardwalk until they arrive at Doctor Durae's Creature Emporium. A dwarf named Grazbo takes their money (which he pretends to eat) and ushers them inside. He escorts them down the dark corridors where the teens see various fright house spectacles. At one point however, the tour stops and they are greeted by their host, the wheelchair bound, Doctor Durae. Attending Durae is his mute assistant, Groton. Durae goes on about the power of illusions and how he has mastered the art form to bring forth his creature emporium.

Groton 002
Groton
Brian KurtzAdded by Brian Kurtz

After the hippies leave, Doctor Durae and Groton retire to their secret laboratory in the back of the emporium. Durae shows Groton his most recent experiment. He has taken the decapitated head of Joanie Fontaine (now revealing that Groton was the man with the ax) and how he has re-attached it to the body with the promise of complete cellular reanimation. It is through this work that Durae seeks to find a cure for nearly any ailment. He reminds Groton that he too will benefit from his work and he administers a shot of a special formula, apparently to help arrest a mysterious ailment that Groton suffers from. After receiving the injection, several boils begin to develop across Groton's face. Doctor Durae sends Groton out to procure another body for him.

After Groton leaves, Durae discovers the vampire Dracula has appeared before him in his laboratory. He asks him how he got inside the laboratory, but Dracula dismisses his questions. He reveals that Durae's real name is Frankenstein and that he knows all about him. He recounts how Durae’s career was ruined by a group of scientists (led by a man named Beaumont) who exposed Durae’s family lineage so as to cover up their own experiments with the Frankenstein Monster. It was Doctor Beaumont who caused the fire that ultimately crippled Doctor Durae. Dracula further tells him that he has the body of the Frankenstein Monster in his possession and that together, the two of them can help each other realize their greatest dreams; Dracula's insatiable lust for power, and Durae's revenge against those who ruined his career.

Meanwhile, Groton continues to stalk the beach in search of new victims. He comes upon two lovers, Laura and Bob, in the midst of an argument. He swings his ax down, killing both of them, but he is only interested in the body of the female.

Elsewhere in the city, Judith Fontaine arrives, still searching for her sister. She goes to a hippie hangout and begins asking questions. One of the workers there, a man with a severe scar across his forehead, suspects that Judith might be a cop. When she begins asking questions regarding a biker named Rico, the scarred man decides to take action. He slips some pills into a coffee cup and gives it to Judith. After drinking the coffee, Judith begins to suffer a hallucinogenic episode. She begins stumbling throughout the room, knocking into people dancing. Strange and Samantha are present and they keep Judith steady and begin walking her out of the building. They bring her to the home of a friend of theirs named Mike Howard.

Back at the lab, Dracula and Doctor Durae successfully reanimate the body of the Frankenstein Monster. Dracula points out that the success of the experiment is contingent upon acquiring radiation from a passing comet. The monster awakens and Dracula is able to control its actions. They use the creature as the instrument through which Durae will gain his revenge. They find Doctor Beaumont and Dracula mystically appears inside the man’s car. Beaumont is shocked by the vampire's sudden arrival, but is even more shocked when the Frankenstein Monster appears in the middle of the road. Beaumont tries to escape, but the Monster grabs him and crushes him to death in a massive bear hug.

Doctor Durea
Doctor Durae
Brian KurtzAdded by Brian Kurtz

The following morning, Judith awakens in Mike Howard's beach house. He explains how Strange and Samantha brought her to him. Judith tells him that she is looking for his sister and Mike says that he knew Joanie, though admittedly, not extremely well. He tells her that Joanie would often frequent Doctor Durae's Creature Emporium because she had "fantasies about being a freak". A boy approaches the back of the beach house and tells Mike that the police have discovered the dismembered remains of a man out by Rocky Point.

Mike, Judith, Strange and Samantha decide to pay a visit to Doctor Durae's Creature Emporium. After wandering about through the exhibits, they finally meet Doctor Durae. Judith asks about her sister and shows Durae a photograph of her. Durae feigns ignorance and says he doesn't recognize her. The four decide to leave. Outside, Judith runs across Sgt. Martin. She asks him about his progress on her sister's case, but the cynical detective dismisses her once again. He does warn her however, that there are some dangerous elements in the area, and tells her to stay away from the beaches for there is a dangerous maniac on the loose.

Meanwhile, Strange and Samantha walk down an alley where they are accosted by Rico and his biker gang. The thugs circle around Samantha, but a police cruiser turns down the alley and the biker’s take off.

Back at the laboratory, Doctor Durae continues to pontificate to Groton as he examines the body of his most recent victim. He criticizes Groton for drawing so much attention to himself and calls him weak. He then gives him another shot of his formula. Durae is now relying upon the Frankenstein Monster to do his strongman work for him.

The Monster meanwhile, stalks the desolate highways and attacks a couple in their car. He pulls the car door off its hinges and reaches inside. Two police officers appear and begin firing their guns at the monster, but the invulnerable creature easily kills them.

Later in the evening, the bikers find Samantha walking under the pier and attack. They corral her to the section of boardwalk near Durae's lab and prepare to rape her. Groton appears and hacks away at the bikers with his ax, dismembering them. He brings the unconscious Samantha back to the laboratory.

Judith and Mike go for a walk near the pier and Mike finds Samantha's locket, partially buried in the sand. Investigating further, he finds a trapdoor in the dock above him which leads to Durae’s lab.

Judith and Joan Fontaine (Dracula vs. Frankenstein)
Judith finds Joanie
Brian KurtzAdded by Brian Kurtz
Doctor Durae
The end of Doctor Durae
Brian KurtzAdded by Brian Kurtz

Entering through the trapdoor, they find the laboratory and Judith discovers Joanie's prone body, strapped upright to a table on the wall. A wicked scar stretches across her throat. Doctor Durae appears and speaks again about the importance of his experiments, emphasizing how trauma-induced cellular conversion is needed for his experiments. It soon becomes clear however, that these two have seen too much and must be dealt with. Durae orders Groton to kill them.

While Groton lunges towards Mike and Judith, Durae' dwarf ticket man, Grazbo, enters the lab via the upstairs entrance from the emporium. He grabs an ax and moves towards a ladder, but his cane gets caught on one of the ladder's steps and he falls down. His face lands on the bladed side of his ax and he instantly dies.

Judith races out of the laboratory as Doctor Durae begins firing a gun at Mike. Groton chases after her, leaving Durae alone to deal with the last intruder. Mike ducks behind several tables, but Durae manages to shoot him in the shoulder as he is making his way up the stairs. Durae follows him into the Creature Emporium, but his wheelchair accidentally collides with the guillotine display, pitching Durae forward. His head lands on the chopping block and the blade slides down, decapitating him. Mike runs outside.

Meanwhile, Groton continues to chase Judith across the rooftop. From the street below, Sgt. Martin appears along with Samantha's boyfriend, Strange. Strange points out Judith and Groton and Martin fires his gun. The bullets strike Groton in the chest and he falls from the top of the roof.

Judith then runs into Count Dracula. Dracula hypnotizes her and brings her back to the roof of the building where he ties her up. Echoing the sentiments of the late Doctor Durae, Dracula tells Judith that her fear energizes the molecular structure of her blood and the resulting formula will make Dracula invincible, enabling him to command legions of the undead.

Mike steals a police squad car and tracks Judith down. He takes a flare from the glove compartment and races up the metal fire escape. However, Dracula still has the Frankenstein Monster under his control. The monster appears and barricades Mike's ascent, but Mike lights the flare and shoves it into the monster's face, blinding him. The monster spins about in pain, unsure of who to attack. Mistaking Dracula for Mike, he begins throttling the vampire, but Dracula hypnotizes the monster into calming down.

Mike frees Judith and the two begin running away. Dracula points his ring towards them and fires a heat ray that burns Mike to death. Dracula then re-captures Judith.

Dracula, Frankenstein and Judith
Dracula and the Monster square off
Brian KurtzAdded by Brian Kurtz

As the evening wears on, Dracula and the Monster bring Judith to an old, abandoned church where they tie her to a chair. Dracula now intends on biting Judith, turning her into a vampire. The Frankenstein Monster however, has since become enamored with Judith and does not wish to see her come to harm. As Dracula leans over to bite her, the monster pushes him backward and the two begin fighting. The Monster pulls the ring from Dracula's finger and the vampire now realizes that he is at a disadvantage.

Their fight continues in the nearby forest and Dracula attempts to hypnotize the Frankenstein Monster. This tactic fails, but Dracula soon gets the upper hand. He wrenches both of the monster's arms free from their sockets, then pulls his head off. The fight has gone on too long however, and the sun is beginning to rise. Dracula begins racing through the woods back to the church, but he is running out of time. Just as he reaches the church steps, the sun bears down upon him, reducing him to ash.

Judith manages to free herself and walks outside where she sees a ring, a discarded cape and a pile of debris that was once Count Dracula.

Original Ending

The original ending to the film was intended to take place when Dracula first confronts the Frankenstein Monster on the rooftop. This finale was predicated by an earlier abridged scene where Forrest J. Ackerman's character, Doctor Beaumont, informed Dracula that the Frankenstein Monster could be destroyed by a concentrated burst of intense heat to his chest. In the rooftop scene, the Monster willfully betrays Dracula (as opposed to blindingly mistaking him for Mike Howard) and the two fight. Dracula recalls Doctor Beaumont's words and uses the heat from his ring's death ray to rupture the monster's heart. Following the death of the monster, Mike and Judith try to escape in a car, but Dracula blocks their path. They run into him, driving him into an electrical panel on the side of a building, whereupon Dracula is subsequently impaled on a steel pipe that Mike had planted their earlier. In the final cut of the film, the scene where Mike grabs the steel pipe remains intact, though he never uses it. Because this scene was never used, the extended conversation between Dracula and Doctor Beaumont was edited out.[1]

Additionally, the reshot ending required changing the fate of Mike Howard. In the original ending, Mike was supposed to survive, but Al Adamson and Sam Sherman didn't have enough money to fly actor Anthony Eisley from California to New York for the final reshoot, so they decided to kill off his character. Al Adamson stood in for Mike Howard in the character's final scene.[1]

Also, the production crew had to replace John Bloom who played the Frankenstein Monster with Shelly Weiss for the reshot scenes in the church. Weiss is credited in the film as the "Creature", whereas Bloom is credited as the "Frankenstein Monster", suggesting that they were supposed to be two separate characters.[1]

One of the more telling elements from the reshot ending and the rest of the film is the appearance of Count Dracula. In the finale, Dracula is wearing a set of prosthetic fangs that are too big for the actor's mouth. He is also wearing an excessive amount of white face paint, which was not present in earlier scenes.

Notes & Trivia

  • Also known as Blood of Frankenstein, Satan's Bloody Freaks, Teenage Dracula, The Blood Seekers and The Revenge of Dracula.
  • This film went through many permutations and rewrites, resulting in a final product, which is disjointed in some areas, with plot threads that appear to be randomly inserted without any connection to any of the other plots. The appearances of Dracula and Frankenstein were an added development, designed to cash in on commercial brand name quality.[1]
  • Filming began in March of 1969.[2] This is also indicated by the date of the telegram that Judith receives in the beginning of the film.
  • The 2001 DVD includes an introduction by screenwriter Samuel M. Sherman.
  • Dracula vs. Frankenstein was featured The 50 Worst Films Ever Made.
  • Originally, Dracula vs. Frankenstein was intended to contain a lot more nudity, but these scenes were trimmed out early in production in order to maintain a GP rating. Only two segments were edited from the film for the television broadcast; a slogan from the hippie nightclub which read "Society Sucks", and a later scene where Anne Morrell (Samantha) exposes her breast.[1]
  • Zandor Vorkov, who played the role of Dracula, is actually a former stock broker named Roger Engel. Forrest J. Ackerman came up with Engel's screen name, derived from Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan. Vorkov was meant to sound similarly to "Karloff", ala, Boris Karloff, the British actor famous for immortalizing the role of the Frankenstein Monster in the 1930s.
  • Actress Regina Carrol was married to director/producer Al Adamson. Her father, Barney Gelfan, made a cameo role in the opening scene as the cemetery caretaker and is the first victim in the movie.[1]
  • Aside from some random grunts and snarls, Chaney had no speaking lines in this film. This was due to Chaney suffering from lung and throat cancer. Originally, the character of Groton was to have speaking lines conveyed through a narrative, but Chaney's voice was so raspy that Al Adamson and Sam Sherman decided not to use the voiceover work. Shortly following the release of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Chaney appeared in a televised public service announcement, warning viewers of the dangers of smoking.[1]
  • 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.[1]
  • 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.[3]
  • Includes an uncredited cameo appearance of director Al Adamson as a man in the audience during Regina Carrol's Las Vegas show.[3]
  • The placard at the Las Vegas showroom misspells Judith's last name as "Fontain".
  • Regina Carrol was a Las Vegas showgirl in real life, which was illustrated in her opening scenes in this film.[1]
  • The man on the beach who tells Mike about the dead bodies is actually cameraman Gary Graver. Sam Sherman filled in behind the camera to shoot his scenes.
  • Outside of William Lava's music score, the film also contains stock audio tracks from other horror films. The most recognizable track is played during Dracula's capture of Judith, which is quite clearly taken from the 1956 film The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  • The setting used in the film's climax was an old abandoned church that Sam Sherman discovered in Somers, New York.
  • In one of the early drafts of the film, Dracula was to bite the Frankenstein Monster, turning him into a vampire. However, actor John Bloom had too much difficulty fitting the fake vampire fangs in place in addition to his regular makeup, so the idea was scrapped.
  • Forrest J. Ackerman injured his right arm during the filming of Doctor Beaumont's death scene. Director Al Adamson forgot to yell "cut" at the end of the scene, so Ackerman remained on the ground until his wife (present on the set) finally decided to see if he was all right.[1]
  • All of Dracula's dialogue is spoken through an echo box to give his voice a reverberating, staccato effect.
  • In trailers, Chaney's character is billed as "The Mad Zombie", though he is never referenced as a zombie in the film. This helps to clarify the inexplicable metamorphosis that Groton appears to go under when Doctor Durae first injects him with his serum.
  • Forrest J. Ackerman is credited as Forest J. Ackerman in this film (note the spelling).

Characters

 
Bob
Bob was spending time on the beach with his girlfriend Laurie, but grew frustrated when she refused to reciprocate Bob's eager affection. Both Bob and Laurie were dismembered by Groton who was searching for more human test subjects.
 
Doctor Beaumont
Doctor Beaumont was the scientist responsible for crippling Doctor Durae and ruining his life. He was later killed when Dracula sent the Frankenstein Monster after him who crushed him to death in a bear hug.
 
Doctor Durae
Doctor Durae was the last of the Frankenstein family and a wheelchair-bound scientist who maintained a secret laboratory behind a boardwalk fun house.
 
Dracula
Dracula was a powerful vampire armed with a customized ring that fired bolts of intense heat. He conspired with Doctor Durae to enhance his experiments and was responsible for exhuming and later destroying the Frankenstein Monster.
 
Frankenstein Monster
The Frankenstein Monster was brought to life by channeling radiation by a passing comet. In the modern era, he was exhumed by Count Dracula who used him as an instrument to vanquish his enemies. The Monster later betrayed Dracula, but the vampire destroyed him by literally tearing him limb from limb.
 
Grazbo
Grazbo was a dwarf ticket collector employed by Doctor Durae for his Creature Emporium. He later died when he dropped an ax he was wielding, then accidentally fell upon it, landing on his face.
 
Groton
Main article: Groton
Groton was the “mad zombie” assistant to Doctor Durae and carried out the thankless task of collecting test subjects for Durae's experiments. Groton executed his chores by decapitating hapless women with an ax.
 
Joanie Fontaine
Joanie Fontaine was the younger sister of Judith Fontaine and was part of the hippie counterculture in Venice Beach, California. She was decapitated by Groton and her remains were brought back to Doctor Durae where they were stitched back together.
 
Judith Fontaine
Judith Fontaine was a Las Vegas showgirl who came to Venice Beach in search of her missing sister, Joanie. She fell in love with a man named Mike Howard and the two were drawn into a web of intrigue involving a mad scientist named Doctor Durae, the vampire Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster. Dracula captured Judith and attempted to turn her into a vampire, but the Frankenstein Monster betrayed Dracula, enabling Judith to escape.
 
Mike Howard
Mike Howard lived in a beach house in Venice, California. A self-confessed "observer", he met Judith Fontaine and attempted to help her find her missing sister, Joanie. The two were drawn into a web of intrigue involving a mad scientist named Doctor Durae, the vampire Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster. Dracula killed Mike Howard by firing a death ray from his special ring.
 
Rico
Rico was the leader of a biker gang in Venice Beach, California. Rico was responsible for drugging Judith Fontaine’s coffee and later terrorizing a hippie girl named Samantha. Rico was preparing to rape Samantha when he was suddenly dismembered by the savage Groton.
 
Samantha
Samantha was a young hippie girl and the lover of a man known only as Strange. Samantha and Strange paid a visit to Doctor Durae's Creature Emporium and met the doctor first hand. Later, Samantha was attacked by a biker gang and nearly raped. She was spared this fate due to the timely arrival of Groton who dismembered all of the bikers with his ax.
 
Sgt. Martin
Sgt. Martin was a cynical police detective who was asked by Judith Fontaine to find her missing sister, Joanie. Martin spent little time investigating the case, but he saved Judith’s life when he shot and killed an attacker known as Groton.
 
Strange
Known only as Strange, this individual was the young lover of a hippie girl named Samantha and enjoyed going to protest rallies because he thought they were "fun". Strange found Judith Fontaine who was suffering from a psychedelic drug and brought her back to Mike Howard’s beach house. He was also present when Sgt. Martin shot and killed Groton.

Body Count

The following is the body count for Dracula vs. Frankenstein in chronological order.

Character Description
Cemetery caretaker Bitten by Dracula in cemetery
Joanie Fontaine Decapitated by Groton under the pier
Laura Decapitated by Groton at Rocky Point
Bob Dismembered by Groton at Rocky Point
Doctor Beaumont Crushed to death by the Frankenstein Monster
Police officer #1 Killed by the Frankenstein Monster
Rico Dismembered by Groton under the pier
Biker #1 Dismembered by Groton under the pier
Biker #2 Dismembered by Groton under the pier
Samantha Death unconfirmed; possibly killed by Groton
Woman in Durae's lab Unknown; Likely killed by Groton
Grazbo Falls upon his own ax
Doctor Durae Accidentally decapitates himself.
Groton Shot to death by Sgt. Martin
Mike Howard Burned to death by ray from Dracula's ring
Frankenstein Monster Dismembered by Dracula
Dracula Disintegrates in the sun


External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Sam Sherman; Dracula vs. Frankenstein DVD audio commentary
  2. DVD introduction by Samuel M. Sherman.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dracula vs. Frankenstein at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)

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