Released the year I was born—google it if you wanna know how old I am—I first discovered this schlocky masterpiece before I started school. It aired on one of the local TV stations on Sunday morning as part of “Science Fiction Theater”, a weekly broadcast that served as my introduction to all things Horror. As a child I was incapable of appreciating it as anything more than a cool movie wherein Dracula fought the Frankenstein Monster. My passion for camp wouldn’t develop until a few years later—at which point I would grow to love this movie even more.
With lines of dialogue that often border on indecipherable, with acting to rival the worst performances ever given by anyone under any circumstances, the film offers us a Dracula with an Afro (portrayed by the producer’s stockbroker, a dude named Roger Engel, aka “Zandor Vorkov”!) and a Frankenstein Monster with a face made out of Silly Putty painted grey. The plot? There is no plot to speak of—and who needs one?! It’s something to do with a missing girl and a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein conducting experiments out of a carnival spook house, and who knows why Dracula is even there, but come on, the dude has an Afro! And a magic ring that shoots laser beams! And all his lines are given this weird echoey effect. It’s simply, beautifully hokey. It’s wonderful. One could easily believe Ed Wood created this one. It certainly has his spirit.
The only negative about this one is that it was Lon Chaney, Jr’s final appearance in a Horror movie. The guy was such an amazing actor, and here he’s just this mute henchman with nothing to do but swing an axe. Just like his fellow Universal Monster Bela Lugosi, who ended his career in B-movies, Chaney deserved better.