Drácula Contra Frankenstein (aka Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein) (Jesús Franco, 1972)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
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After the discovery of the murder of yet another nubile innocent victim in a sleepy (we assume Eastern European) town, Dr. Seward (Alberto Dalbés; The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein) sets out to rid the world of the dastardly Count Dracula (Howard Vernon; Faceless, Zombie Lake) once and for all. After being dispatched (read: turned into a little bat) by the tenacious Dr. Seward,  the one and only Dr. Frankenstein (Dennis Price; Vampyros Lesbos, Twins of Evil) arrives in town and captures (steals) the evil king of the vampires. Using his technology developed when he created his monster, he soon brings Dracula back to life using a glass jar and the blood of a French exotic dancer… with the intent on using him (and subsequently his vampire minions) to conquer the world. Oh and his monster bumbles about too.
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Jess Franco’s (Bloody Moon, Women Behind Bars)  creature features always tend to err on the entertaining side, and this is no exception. Plenty of creepy castles, nubile, scantily clad ladies,  a little bit of mild necrophilia, vampire bats that screech like tortured birds, and horrible makeup effects abound. I have to say that I just wasn’t buying Howard Vernon as Count Dracula… he just didn’t seem to fit the role at all. The fact that that he pretty much just sits there and looks like he was frozen in time while taking a shit doesn’t help either. Throw in a werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster and you have an entertaining mess to say the least. The ladies in the film are for the most part very easy on the eyes (fairly typical for a Franco film), as is the absolute downright abuse of the zoom lens – a Franco trademark.
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There is atypically no Lina Romay and no cameo by Franco this round. So you basically have a mash up of the classic monster archetypes (Clearly Franco’s attempt at an homage to the classic Universal monsters of the 40s) with an excuse to make them fight, which is never a bad thing. The fight scene between the werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster is so ridiculous it needs to be seen to be believed… it looked like a bad Mexican midget wrestling match versus a giant robot. The sets and costumes are nice to look at, although Frankenstein’s monster’s makeup is terrible with its penciled on scars and rubber chin that looks like it keeps falling off and reapplied with chewing gum and the vampire bats are laughable (although at least they’re real bats).
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At times incoherent, Drácula Contra Frankenstein moves along at a brisk pace, never wasting time or the opportunity to show yet another scantily clad vampiress or twitching bat closeup. I wouldn’t consider this among Franco’s best work, but he has certainly subjected me to far worse.  As with most films, this one could have certainly benefitted by some skin… particularly in the French dancer’s scene. It’s fairly unusual to see a Franco film sans nudity, making this a bit of an oddity.
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Apparently, Franco wanted to make a more light-hearted monster movie after the super-serious Count Dracula with Christopher Lee, and it certainly shows. I wouldn’t really label any of the aspects comedic, but it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, coming across with a more disjointed surrealism over anything else. Worthy of a viewing.
 

 

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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