Gayracula vs. Mushroomhead Man
Somehow, in this insanely plotted story, Dracula teams up with Dr. Frankenstein. The infamous Monster returns from the grave and beautiful hippie girls get murdered by a drug-crazed Lon Chaney Jr. on the beaches of Venice, California. This is not a movie you get to see every day.
(Spoilers may follow…)
This film is a terrible turd. Oh yes, this is vintage trash cinema from the early seventies, no doubt about that: a bit of decapitation & dismemberment, an exposed naked female breast, a midget thrown in for got measurement and what not all else of raunchy shenanigans in the mix. But trash lovers & crap connoisseurs beware, this tripe is barely watchable. Even though I’ve seen only this one movie by him, I’d place director Al Adamson‘s filmmaking skills somewhere between the likes of Ed Wood Jr. and Jesus Franco. I realize such a bold statement may only encourage certain people with an exquisite taste in movies to check out Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, but so be it. For all I know, they’ll probably enjoy this film.
However, the main question here is: did I enjoy it? Very hard to say. Sure, the sparse special effects are laughably inept. The acting is all-round atrocious. The story is gibberish. This all is fun material for bad movie lovers. But the actual film is so bad, watching it hurts. So, what on earth can a movie called Dracula Vs. Frankenstein be about? Is it about Dracula beating the crap out of the Frankenstein Monster? Well, yes and no. That only happens during the movie’s ridiculously staged climax, where Dracula can be seen tearing the Monster apart, limb from limb, during a fist-fight in some woods too darkly photographed to see anything clearly anyway. So what’s the rest of the story about?
Apparantly, the last descendant of Doctor Frankenstein, called Dr. Duryea (J. Carrol Naish) is living nearby an amusement park at a beach in Venice, California. As a cover-up hobby, he runs a sideshow there. But behind closed doors he continues to conduct his inhuman experiments. For these practices he needs fresh, young female bodies. So he has his mute assistant Groton (Lon Chaney Jr.), under the influence of some drugs and wielding an axe, prowl the nightly beach in search for female victims. When Joanie (Maria Lease) disappears, falling victim to Dr. Duryea’s crazy experiments, her sister Judith Fontaine (Regina Carrol) comes to California to search for her in the hippie community. Regina Carrol is blonde, has a wild hair-do and a wonderful pair of knockers, but this is irrelevant to the plot as she never shows them fully naked. Anyway, so Judith gets drugged in some bar – a dealer slips something in her drink because she was asking too many questions – starts acting all trippy and dancing foolishly. The next day she falls in love with a gentle hippie stranger, and together they continue the search for the missing Joanie.
Where does Dracula (Zandor Vorkov) fit into all of this? Well, the film opens with him stealing the body of the Frankenstein Monster on some graveyard I don’t know where. Don’t ask me how it got buried there, on a normal cemetery; it just was. The second scene, shows us the decapitation of Joanie on a beach in California. The next scene has Judith Fontaine singing a musical on some stage, I don’t know where, but it sure wasn’t filmed in Las Vegas (as the exterior stock footage may have you believing). I imagine, at the time, this sort of set-up to any story being very innovating, because you can’t possibly have a clue how these three seemingly random events are and in fact will be connected later on in the film. For a while, the plot just forgets about Dracula and focuses on Dr. Duryea aka Dr. Frankenstein and his experiments & side-show nonsense. But at some given moment, Dracula shows up at Dr. Duryea’s underground laboratory, offering him a deal he can’t refuse. Dracula will hand him over the body of the legendary Monster that he previously exhumed, and in return Frankenstein has got to build him an army of undead vampires. Or something along those lines. Dr. Duryea is happy with the Monster, because now the thing can continue to snatch young females off the beach since poor Groton is loosing his wits and making a mess of things anyway (the drug doesn’t work too well anymore).
But things take a turn into the unexpected, as Judith’s boyfriend manages to get Dr. Duryea killed (another decapitation, yay!). Since Dracula can now kiss his army of the undead goodbye, he wants something new: a bride! So he incinerates Judith’s boyfriend by use of his magical, animated fire-squirting ring and with the help of his new-found buddy, the Frankenstein Monster, he kidnaps the beautifully breasted Judith. How all of the sudden Dracula and the Monster ultimately become arch enemies and this movie eventually still turns into Dracula Vs. Frankenstein at the very last minute, you’ll have to see for yourself.
Christ, I can’t believe I managed to pen down the mind-boggling plot of this flick in a reasonably understandable fashion. Now what else do you need to know besides me mentioning Regina Carrol‘s impressive cleavage again? Oh yes, something about the acting, maybe? J. Carrol Naish‘s acting abilities are about on par with Eddy Wally‘s. If you don’t know who he is, just google his name. Every time Naish drivels on about his demented theories again, you just want to hit him in the face and steal his dentures. I have absolutely no idea why Al Adamson wanted to have him play a wheelchair-bound Dr. Frankenstein who’s too old to be doing experimenting anyway. But somehow it fits the ways of this movie. The Frankenstein Monster, played by John Bloom, has a face that looks like a mutant mushroom. Yes, pretty scary. Zandor Vorkov plays a rather gay-looking Dracula whose voice is strangely distorted all the time. It’s beyond ridiculous when he starts speaking. And now for the best – or worst – part… The late great Lon Chaney Jr. is in this film. Poor, poor Mr. Chaney… He plays Groton, a mute character, and he’s staggering around in this film like as if he was still acting in a silent movie, pulling exaggerated silly faces all the time. And hugging a puppy. While he’s not wielding an axe, that is. Furthermore, it’s pretty obvious he needed a good drink between takes. Oh, how the mighty can one day fall so low.
And things get even sadder when you realize Dracula Vs. Frankenstein was the last film Lon Chaney Jr. ever acted in. Two years later, he died. His last role was playing a mute axe-wielding moronic maniac on drugs. What a way to go.
Funny video-review & clips that prove the dialogue in this film is also pretty epic on YouTube.