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  Dracula: Prisoner of Frankenstein Drac? Meet Frank
Year: 1972
Director: Jess Franco
Stars: Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Paca Galbadón, Alberto Dalbés, Britt Nichols, Geneviève Robert, Anne Libert, Luis Barboo, Fernando Bilbao, Josyane Gibert
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dracula (Howard Vernon) is lurking in the environs of this small European town, and has already broken in through the bedroom windows of one young woman to suck the blood from her body, assisted by transforming into a bat. The doctor in a nearby sanatorium is Jonathan Seward (Alberto Dalbés), and his suspicions are aroused by one of his patients acting very sensitively towards the possibilities of there being a supernatural force of evil around. Yet to make matters worse, Dr Frankenstein (Dennis Price) has arrived in the area to track down the Count...

What he plans to do is an act of incredible malevolence, or something like that because frankly it was difficult to tell exactly what he was up to thanks to the highly singular style of the man at the helm of this production, Jess Franco. Already notorious for what some saw as a shoddy approach to filmmaking, and what his fans saw as more influenced by the form of jazz music he liked, Franco's work here saw him come in for quite some degree of criticism as what he appeared to be doing here was taking a leaf out of his fellow Spaniard Jacinto Molina's big book of horror movie making and paying his own kind of tribute.

In this case it was to the Universal monster mashes of the thirties and forties, so what you got here was a clash between Dracula and Frankenstein, which you could fathom from the title, and also a surprise guest star late on in the piece for a spot of additional action. Price was nearing the end of his career by this stage and was not able to bring much to the role of the mad scientist, certainly none of the sly, upper crust sense of humour that saw him through all sorts of bargain basement chillers and thrillers around this time. As for Vernon, he had evidently been instructed to grimace to show the character's fangs, and leave it at that: not the most magnetic Count the screen had ever seen.

Not helping was that when he bit down on the neck of a maiden he would end up with a bright red mouth, less unsettling-looking and more resembling a man wearing cherry red lipstick. Makeup was not the strong point here, with Frankenstein's Monster patently sporting stitches drawn on with a red pen, although his basic Boris Karloff visage was recognisable inasmuch as you could see what they were getting at, if not succeeding with. Yet while this could very well send the unwary to sleep with its somnambulant pace and lack of dialogue, it was those very qualities which had it reminiscent of a silent horror movie from the nineteen-twenties, sort of a colour Nosferatu or something similar.

There was dialogue at occasional intervals, but it was mostly brief and nonsensical no matter which version you watched, with the evil Doctor narrating his journal's jottings and rambling on about "The Great Beyond" which he claimed to have conquered by bringing his Monster to life, and having Dracula fall under his scientific spell. Not that you'd notice, as he acted the way you'd expect, turning into the bat and draining the bodies of any young ladies unlucky enough to cross his path - note that the gore quotient was low for a European horror flick of his vintage, as well. That special guest star turned out to be The Wolfman, played by a pseudonymous actor in furry face makeup and flinging himself at the Monster for a bout of wrestling, although search in vain for any concrete reason for him to show up otherwise. With a scene of scrying from a gypsy woman to try and draw all this together, if you were of a mind that Franco appealed to your sensibilities you could find it quite diverting, though it may be one of his most seen movies it was few people's favourite. (Reheated) music by Bruno Nicolai.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Jess Franco  (1930 - 2013)

Legendary director of predominantly sex-and-horror-based material, Spanish-born Jesus Franco had as many as 200 directing credits to his name. Trained initially as a musician before studying film at the Sorbonne in Paris, Franco began directing in the late 50s. By using the same actors, sets and locations on many films, Franco has maintained an astonishing workrate, and while the quality of his work has sometimes suffered because of this, films such as Virgin Amongst the Living dead, Eugenie, Succubus and She Killed in Ecstasy remain distinctive slices of 60s/70s art-trash.

Most of his films have been released in multiple versions with wildly differing titles, while Franco himself has directed under a bewildering number of pseudonyms. Actors who have regularly appeared in his films include Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee and wife Lina Romay; fans should also look out for his name on the credits of Orson Welles' Chimes of Midnight, on which he worked as assistant director.

 
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