Saturday, January 11, 2020

double trouble.

Even tho' it's been a couple of weeks since the audience splitting BBC adaptation of Dracula (which I must admit to thoroughly enjoying) was shown we're still on a wee bit of a vampire fix here in Unwell Towers, gorging ourselves on the very best (or is that very beast?) bloodsucking blockbusters.

Oh yes and this.

All I can say is shite movie, vaguely amusing back story.

So prepare yourself dear reader for the truth behind... 

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971).
Dir: Al Adamson.
Cast: Anthony Eisley, Regina Carrol, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis, Angelo Rossitto, Greydon Clark, Anne Morrell, Forrest J Ackerman, John Bloom, Lon Chaney, Jnr, J. Carrol Naish and Zandor Vorkov.

“She used to have fantasies about being a freak…
Two heads, an eye missing, elongated spine.
Anything that was grotesque turned her on.”

Somewhere in California - the Oakmoor Cemetery to be precise - world famous lord of the undead Count Dracula (disguised by the look of things as an almost AIDS thin pedo with pubes for hair and played to almost cardboard perfection by 'Zandor Vorkov' AKA Roger Engel) is busy unearthing the remains of Doctor Frankenstein's monster.

What? You mean to tell me you skipped the part of the book where the creatures remains are secreted to the US to be experimented on?

Surprised to see a black satin clad sex offender digging around in the middle of the night the cemeteries lone security guard (the directors dad) comes to investigate, getting his neck nibbled for his trouble.

Pay attention at this part, as it's the only vaguely vampiric thing Dracula will partake in during the whole movie.

Meanwhile under Brighton pier a fairly foxy girl is nervously feeling her way thru' a fog of what can only be cigarette smoke before being suddenly - and unconvincingly -  attacked by an axe-wielding, alcoholic Lon Chaney, Jr. (who distressingly looks close to death).

The axe cuts short her scream.

And cuts off her head.

We cut too but fear not, for it's only a cinematic phrase meaning the action (well, I say action) is moving to somewhere else.

And that somewhere else is glorious Las Vegas, where glamorous grannie Judith Fontain (director Adamson's wife, the late Carrol, star of Satan's Sadists and official pin-up girl of raunchy rockers The Sleepfarmers) is performing her groovy nite-club act to a packed audience via the wonders of stock footage (well, takes up a couple of minutes running time) before retiring to her dressing room to let the air out of her breasts and check her fan mail.

Alongside the final demands, STD test results and court summonses is a letter from one Sergeant Martin Martin (Dallas star Davis) of the Californian Police Missings Persons Bureau (yup, that's the name on the envelope), informing Judith that her wee sister Jodie has gone missing.

Dracula, up the casino, 1973.....Yesch!

Judith, being a concerned sister and desperate to get the plot moving rushes to California (I'm assuming it's just down the road) in order to help with the police investigation much to the chagrin of the permanently scowling Sgt. Martin.

"Hey lady, the world is a dark place," Martin informs her as he switches off his desk lamp in order to batter the point home "If you have any wool I suggest you get knitting!" he suggests usefully before heading off to beat up some students.

Left to her own devices, our heroine wanders innocently into the dangerous hippie neighbourhood where her sister was last seen.

Entering the famous Hippie Hilton (500 McLaughlin Dr. Santa Cruz, CA 95064-1084, families welcome) Judith tries to ingratiate herself into the whole hippie thing by asking for a coffee whilst showing pictures of her sis to all and sundry but this only succeeds in getting her mistaken for a cop, leaving the owner no alternative but to spike her drink with LSD.


Cue much hair tugging, indiscriminate crash zooms and Judith writhing on a platform whilst wearing a white fishnet body stocking to a frantic bongo beat.

Far out.

Luckily she's rescued by nice guy hipster Clive Strange (hard working Clark, best known - to me anyway - for Without Warning) and his mousy girlfriend Samantha (Morrell, you may remember her as the floating harem girl in John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! or maybe not).

Lon Fancies a wee mooth shite-in....are you man enough for the challenge?

Meanwhile at the local chamber of horrors conveniently located on the end of the pier next to the bingo hall, the wheelchair-bound scientist and former member of NWA Dr. Drea (Naish, desperate to pay his medical bills) is busy attempting to perfect a special formula that will enable mankind to live forever and have perfectly coiffured  hair even after a heavy night out.

Unfortunately he can only make this formula by beheading people then bringing them back to life before finally lobotomizing them.

But if it means I only ever have to style my quiff once a month then I'm game.

Aided by urine stained imbecile Groton (that'll be Lon then, poor sod) and professional little person Grazbo (Rossitto famous for everything from Freaks to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome via Galaxina), who've been promised physical and mental superiority once the formula is perfected, this dynamic duo find suitable candidates for experimentation via Grazbo's job at the box office, leaving Groton to chop them up.

"Laugh now!"

After one particularly heavy night of lobotomy-based fun, Dr. Drea is surprised when a strange man steps out of the shadows and demands to talk to him.

Examining the strangers ring (snigger) Drea identifies the visitor as Count Dracula, and Dracula not to be outdone, identifies Drea as the last of the Frankenstein family.

With Drea realizing that his Colonel Sanders disguise is fooling no-one and Drac just relieved that he's finally met someone who doesn't piss themselves laughing whilst looking at him they pair settle down for an excruciatingly bad chat that although meant to fill in an important bit of back story just careers off on bizarre tangents.

None of this is helped by the fact that Dracula appears to have been dubbed by someone standing in a well.

"Ahm sorry hen....ave pished mahsel again!"

Anyway, from what I can gather (after rewatching the movie a few times) is that  Drea was adopted (which is why he's not known as Frankenstein and more importantly why he's considerably less hip than other Def Jam stalwarts) and that his work in monster construction was discredited by three evil doctors, one of which caused the accident that crippled him.

This man whom we shall call simply Dr. Bill Beaumont (because that's his name) added insult to injury by stealing the Frankenstein monster and burying it in the graveyard from the films opening.

Luckily for all concerned the infamous Zornov Comet is rapidly approaching the Earth, heralding the beginning of the monster's second life cycle.

Look I'm just typing what was said.

Meanwhile junked up Judith suddenly wakes up in the bed of aged hippie Mike Howard (Eisely from Knots Landing), a local middle-aged guy who looks after the disenfranchised yoof in the area whilst dressed like a teenage rent boy.

Nope, nothing sinister about that at all.

Taking a shine to Judith (he's obviously bored with failing to score at the school gates so he's decided on someone nearer his own - old - age) the pair begin to discuss Jodie's disappearance, eventually coming to the conclusion that, being disabled Dr. Drea is behind it.

Cue hours of wandering around aimlessly back and forth to the house of horrors exhibit intercut with dozens of unnecessary appearances  by a chubby, pube bearded Russ Tamblyn playing an evil rapist biker named Rico.

Truly the man has no shame.

Or a fucking huge rehab bill.

Heath Ledger farted....and it was an eggy one.

Skipping forward a few chapters (look I'm only human) and finally Judith and Mike (after admitting their love for each other and having a wee kiss and cuddle) have decided to take one last look at Drea's horror show.

Only to make it more interesting they've turned up in the middle of the night.

Wandering around in the 'dark', they pair of wannabe investigators completely fail to see or hear Rico and his pals trying to rape Samantha and also miss Groton's subsequent slaughter of the bad boy bikers but, and give credit where it's due, Mike does manage to hear Groton quietly pull a chain that opens a trapdoor to Drea's lab.

Trying to find the source of the noise, the pair also manage to miss the three hacked to pieces bodies at their feet but do spot a teeny tiny locket belonging to Samantha buried in the sand.

I'll be honest, even I've stopped caring at this point.

"Fiona! Where's mah lunch?"

Drea, lying in wait behind a shady model of a giant monkey catches the pair as they sneak around the exhibits and manages to lure our loved up losers into the dank, dark basement below his lair.

If you could take a minute now to consider the layout of Drea's Chamber of Horrors.

If you've been paying attention you'll remember that it's built on a pier over the beach to give Groton easy access to the sands to kill women.

So how (and more importantly where) does the stone clad gothic basement fit in?

I have to be honest and say that at the time I totally accepted this without question showing the true extent of the films almost supernatural mind numbing powers.

It was only the following day that I realized that the whole thing was complete and utter shame trousered shite from start to finish.

Anyway, Drea explains the plot, Judith finds her naked sister in a big jam jar and Mike, being an all American hero type picks a fight with the dwarf, causing Groton's pet cat to fall down the trapdoor.

I kid you not, cinema hardly ever gets as exciting as this baby.


Much infant school slapping and grimacing ensues culminating with wee Grazbo falling onto an axe giving Judith time to escape to the roof.

Of a factory.

Not a pier.

Mike however is trapped behind some boxes as an ever more excited Drea take potshots at his arse with an air pistol before giving chase in what must be modern cinemas slowest wheelchair versus middle aged man race ever.

All looks lost until Mike in a rare flash of intelligence, hides behind the monkey exhibit and shouts "BOO!" as Drea wheels by causing the scientist to shit himself, the runny consistency of which makes Drea slide off his seat and onto a prop  guillotine exhibit, which decapitates him.

Back on the roof Groton, pulling his best sex face, is closing in on Judith but just as all seems lost who should turn up but Sgt. Martin and Clive Strange back from discovering the three bodies under the pier.

Strange spots Judith running across the roof and Martin, desperate to shoot someone, opens fire on Groton.

"Put it in me!"

Running to the roof to comfort Judith, Mark seems to have forgotten one tiny thing.

The title of the film.

For waiting in the shadows Dracula is plotting a terrible revenge on those who have thwarted his plans.

A revenge that will at some point involve him bitch slapping a potato-faced monster whilst Judith's breasts look on in terror....

"I fang you!"

Where to start when it comes to the late king of exploitation Al Adamson and his work?

Director, producer, actor and writer Adamson directed an impressive (in quantity if not quality) thirty movies between 1961 and 1983 before retiring from films and getting involved in real estate.

Tho' probably not beach-front piers with stone basements.

Back to his movies tho' and whilst Dracula vs. Frankenstein is nowhere near one of his better efforts it does have the most comically convoluted stories behind it's journey to the big screen.

Beginning production in 1968 as The Blood Seekers with much the same plot and cast Adamson was reported as being unhappy with the finished product, feeling it lack a certain something and consequently shelved the entire movie, putting all his efforts into the other seven (!) he had in production at the same time.

Jump forward a few years and Al's producer pal Sam Sherman, is panicking into a bottle of Rum.

It appears that he foolishly signed a contract to deliver a brand new full colour Frankenstein film to the drive-in theatre crowd and, after spending the cash on crisps and fizzy pop has only days in which to find one before he gets his legs broken.

In an attempt to cheer his pal up, Adamson took Sherman to the cinema where the pair found themselves watching Paul Naschy's debut film La Marca del Hombre Lobo (AKA The Mark of The Wolfman) alongside Holiday on The Buses.

It was at this point Sherman hatched a cunning plan.

He would buy the rights to the movie and change the title to The Something of Frankenstein therefore filling his obligation and make a few bob on the side.

Unfortunately tho' Holiday on The Buses was too expensive (Hammer wanted £18.60 for the worldwide rights) to purchase so instead he ended up with Naschy's movie which he quickly retitled Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (despite it not featuring Frankenstein) before releasing it onto an unsuspecting audience.

The plan worked and to celebrate Sherman took Adamson out for a baked potato and a pint of cider and it was during this meal, as Adamson looked down on the cheese melting across his lumpy spud that the director realised what was missing from the Blood Seekers footage.

A monster with a potato for a face.

With a cry of "Eureka!" Adamson jumped from his seat causing the man sitting behind to accidentally spray tomato sauce of his wife's heaving bosom.

Noticing the red liquid dripping seductively down her swan-like (if a little too hairy) neck the film making duo looked at each other before both shouting:


And thus a legend was born.

"Wahey Blakey! I'm spunking tenners!"

But who had the gravitas to play such an iconic roll?

And who was brave enough to bring the Count kicking and screaming into the 1970's?

Sherman wanted genre veteran John Carradine, thinking that the actor would bring a noble gravitas to a portrayal of an older, more desperate Dracula, out of time and thrust into the modern world for one last attempt at immortality.

But Adamson had other ideas, he wanted someone young and sexy but more importantly he wanted someone with a beard.

A beard fashioned from pubic hair.

With this in mind he called upon his stockbroker Robert 'pubey' Engel who accepted the part on the spot.

Funnel or tunnel?

Renamed Zandor Vorkov (a partial anagram of Talentless tosser), his voicebox replaced with that of a bass-heavy transistor radio slightly off-tuned to medium wave and his skin bleached with ammonia, Engel's was ready to begin shooting.

All that was left to do now was to find and purchase a really big potato and find someone willing to put it on their head.

This job fell to the massive, slack jawed 7 foot, 4 inch bulkily hulky John Bloom. Known as Johnny 'Horsecock' Bloom to his friends, the actor had already appeared in such greats as The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant and Up Your Alley before Adamson came a calling and he too had unique ideas as to how the infamous monster should be portrayed.

As a club-footed tramp obviously.

And how did it all turn out?

Well I would usually say see for yourselves but frankly I'm not that much of an unfeeling bastard.

If you have already seen it there are groups out there to help you adjust back into normal life life.

And if not?

Just memorize this review and kid on that you saw it.

It's for the best.

No comments: