Friday, January 13, 2012

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)


          Truly one of the worst movies ever made, the no-budget horror flick Dracula vs. Frankenstein is such an excruciating, incoherent mess that it’s not even fun to watch through the prism of traffic-accident perversity. The story involves Dracula (Zandor Vorkov) recruiting a mad scientist (J. Carrol Naish) to revive the Frankenstein monster (John Bloom) for some nefarious purpose, but just like when the same scheme unfolded in the Universal monster-mash pictures of the 1940s, Dracula ends up dueling with the monster. Since Dracula and Frankenstein are among most enduring figures in popular culture, it’s amazing that director Al Adamson managed to drain the vitality out of two classic monsters at once, but nothing of narrative interest occurs during the picture’s 90 minutes of supernatural mayhem.
          As Dracula, the cringe-inducing Vorkov comes across as a pasty girly-man reading lines off cue cards while his voice gets run through a distortion machine; the Frankenstein’s monster makeup gives the impression that a crumpled grocery bag was dropped onto Bloom’s head; and poor Lon Chaney Jr., a long way from his glory days in the aforementioned Universal horror pictures, looks bloated and depressed as he lumbers through a nothing role as an axe-wielding henchman. Also, for some inexplicable reason, Adamson regularly cuts from the monstrous goings-on in Dracula’s laboratory to innocuous scenes of forgettable supporting characters, as if he can’t even be bothered to deliver an entire movie’s worth of what his title promises.
          Finally, just to make matters so much worse, the picture’s production values are pathetic, to the point that the climactic duel is so under-lit it’s difficult to see what’s happening onscreen. But then again, Dracula vs. Frankenstein is such an interminable slog that not being able to see part of the movie is probably a blessing. Trivia buffs take note: Beloved monster-magazine publisher Forrest J. Ackerman plays a bit part and served as “technical consultant,” whatever that means, while Kenneth Strickfaden, who created props for The Bride of Frankenstein (1931), provided his vintage gadgets plus a few crude special effects.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein: SQUARE

No comments: