DNDF: Horror in the Old West

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Friday, October 25, 2013

DNDF: Horror in the Old West

Apparently not a month goes by that I don’t regale you all with the exciting stories of my youngling years watching movies on a Saturday afternoon.  Yes, once again I’m going to talk about Dr. Shock.  One of the first movies I can remember the good Doctor introducing me to was “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.”  Little did I know that film would start a fire that burns to this day.  So turn down the lights, snuggle up to that special someone and ease on into another installment of Date Night Double Feature.

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)

  • Genre: Action – Drama – Horror
  • Directed: William Beaudine
  • Produced: Carol Case
  • Written:
    • Carl K. Hittleman 
    • Jack Lewis
  • Starring: John Carradine, Chuck Courtney, Melinda Plowman, Virginia Christine, Harry Carey Jr., Walter Janovitz, Bing Russell, Olive Carey
  • Music: Raoul Kraushaar
  • Cinematography: Lothrop B. Worth
  • Editing: Roy V. Livingston
  • Studio: Circle Productions Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • Embassy Pictures  
    • International Film Distributors  
    • Something Weird Video  
    • Nostalgia Video  
    • Cheezy Flicks Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 10 April 1966
  • Running Time: 73 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula is a 1966 American low-budget horror/western film directed by William Beaudine.  It was released theatrically as part of a double bill, along with Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.  The film revolves around the eponymous outlaw trying to save his fiancee from Dracula (John Carradine repeating his role from the low-budget Universal Studios movie sequels to the Bela Lugosi classic).

The film centers on Dracula's plot to convert Billy the Kid's fiancee, Betty Bentley, into his vampire wife.  Dracula impersonates Bentley's uncle and schemes to make her his vampiric bride.

Fortunately for Betty, a German immigrant couple come to work for her and warn Bentley that her "uncle" is a vampire.  While Bentley does not believe them, their concerns confirm Billy's suspicions that something is not quite right with Betty's uncle.

Eventually, the Count kidnaps Betty and takes her to an abandoned silver mine.  Billy confronts the Count but soon finds that bullets are no match for a vampire.  The Count subdues the notorious outlaw and sets out to transform Betty into his vampire mate.  Just then, the town sheriff and a country doctor arrive.  The doctor hands Billy a scalpel telling him he must drive it through the vampire's heart.  Billy throws his gun at the vampire and knocks him senseless, making him easy pickings for a staking.  With the count destroyed, Betty is saved and Billy takes her away, presumably to live happily ever after.

This film, and its companion piece, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, were the final films for William Beaudine.  This marked the end of a career that included approximately 250 (known) films beginning in the silent period.  Jack Lewis actually wrote the script but sold all rights to credited screenwriter Carl K. Hittleman for $250.  The film was shot in eight days, a fact that is hard to believe if you have seen this film.

 

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi – Western
  • Directed: William Beaudine
  • Produced: Carol Case
  • Written: Carl K. Hittleman
  • Starring: John Lupton, Narda Onyx, Estelita Rodriguez, Cal Bolder, Jim Davis
  • Music: Raoul Kraushaar
  • Cinematography: Lothrop B. Worth
  • Editing: William Austin
  • Studio: Circle Productions Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • Embassy Pictures  
    • International Film Distributors  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • MGM/UA Home Entertainment  
    • Embassy Home Entertainment  
    • Nostalgia Video  
    • Something Weird Video  
    • Sultan Entertainment  
    • Cheezy Flicks Entertainment  
    • Alpha Video Distributors  
    • Elite Entertainment  
    • Mill Creek Entertainment  
    • ACME-TV
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 10 April 1966
  • Running Time: 88 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter is a low-budget western/horror hybrid film filmed in 1966, in which a fictionalized version of the real-life western outlaw Jesse James encounters the fictional granddaughter (the movie's title notwithstanding) of the famous Dr. Frankenstein.

Dr Frankenstein’s grandchildren Maria and Rudolph have moved to the American West, in order to use the prairie lightning storms in their experiments on unwilling victims.  After a number of failures, Rudolph is finding it increasingly difficult to hide the trail of bodies.  Down the road, MaƱuel Lopez, his wife Nina, and their daughter Estelita decide to leave town because of the frequent disappearances.

Two gunslingers come to town, Hank Tracy, a dimwitted lug, and Jesse James, the infamous outlaw.  Meeting up with the head of a local gang, they join up with the intention of stealing $100,000 from the next stagecoach. However, a gang member named Lonny decides to go to the sheriff and lets them know about the plot in exchange for becoming his deputy.  So as the robbery begins, the sheriff and his men shoot the two remaining members of his gang and seriously wound Hank.

Jesse and Hank escape and stop at the Lopez's campout to tend to Hank's wound and sleep until the morning. During the middle of the night, Estelita wakes up Jesse and Hank and leads them back to town to the Frankensteins' house to fix up Hank.  Maria agrees to help, but her plan is to use Hank as another one of her experiments.  After sending Jesse to the town pharmacist with a note, she begins operating on Hank, giving him a new brain and bringing him back to life.  Rudolph tries to poison Hank, now called Igor, and Maria orders Igor to strangle Rudolph.

Jesse gives the pharmacist the note, which actually reveals his identity and tells the pharmacist to call the sheriff. Jesse manages to escape, killing deputy Lonny in the process.  When he returns to the Frankensteins' house, Igor incapacitates him and ties him up.

Realizing Jesse is in trouble, Estelita sends the sheriff to the house, where he finds Jesse and prepares to take him for the reward.  But Maria sends Igor to crush the sheriff.  During the scuffle, Estelita frees Jesse and tries to escape.  Maria orders Igor to go kill Estelita, but Igor strangles Maria instead and goes after Jesse.  Estelita gets Jesse's gun and kills Igor.

The next morning, as Jesse buries Hank, Estelita pleads with him to stay and live with her, but Jesse, knowing that he's a fugitive, rides off with the sheriff, who wasn't killed by Igor.

The lab equipment was provided by Ken Strickfaden, who used the same gadgets in the Frankenstein films made by Universal, as well as Mel Brooks' “Young Frankenstein”.  This is one of the few times the equipment was filmed in color.


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