Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1970)

Rating:

aka Assignment Terror (Los Monstruos Del Terror)

Spain/West Germany/Italy. 1970.

Crew

Director – Tulio Demichelli, Screenplay – Jacinto Molina Alvarez, Producer – Jaime Prades, Photography – Godofredo Pacheco, Music – Franco Salina, Special Effects – Antonio Molina, Makeup – Francisco R. Ferrer. Production Company – Producciones Jaime Prades s.a./Eichberg Film GmbH/Continental Jaguar

Cast

Michael Rennie (Dr Varnoff), Craig Hill (Inspector Henry Tobermann), Paul Naschi [Naschy] (Waldemar Daninsky), Patty Sheppard (Ilsa), Karin Dor (Maleva Kerstein), Angel del Pozo (Dr Kerian), Manuel de Blas (Count Janos de Mihailof), Ferdinando Murolo (Farancksalan Monster), Gene Reyes (Tao-Tet)


Plot

Three aliens from the planet Ummo led by Dr Varnoff have come to Earth and taken over human bodies. Setting up operations in a castle, they launch their plan to invade the Earth. This involves resurrecting the monsters that humans fear the most – the vampire Count Janos de Mihailof, the creation of Dr Farancksalan, the wolfman Waldemar Daninsky and the mummy Tao-Tet. When a spate of bodies is found around the town following Daninsky’s escape, detective Inspector Henry Tobermann investigates what is happening.


Dracula vs. Frankenstein was one of several films with the same title that all came out around 1970-1 – all three were painfully cheap and came nowhere near generating the excitement the title bout promised. The most well-known of these was Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), while Jesus Franco also made Dracula vs Dr Frankenstein/Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1971). What should be noted about this version is that the title monster bash only becomes apparent in the English-language promotion whereas the Spanish-language original uses different sounding names for each of the monsters, presumably so as to avoid any issues with Universal copyright – although it should be pointed out that the image of Dracula as an exhibit in a carnival with a stake through his heart has been directly lifted from the second of Universal’s monster bashes House of Frankenstein (1944).

The film was written by Jacinto Molina (1934-2009), better known by his screen name of Paul Naschy. Molina was a horror fan who first appeared with the script for Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968) in which he also took the lead role of the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. Naschy gained a good deal of fame in horror roles over the next few years, even directing several films. He made nine further appearances as the wolfman and Dracula vs. Frankenstein was the second of these. (Technically, it is the third as Naschy had written and acted in Night of the Wolfman, which was shot in 1970 but was never completed or released).

Dracula vs. Frankenstein is deadly dull in every respect. The photography and editing are incredibly shabby. The film is a directorial mess that chops and changes tone from scene to scene. The plot has been indifferently slung together – various things happen but it never seems to matter what or in what order they do. Despite the title, none of the Famous Monsters do anything once they are revived – in actuality, they seem to have been construed as nothing more than standard goons aiding a villain. As with many of the Japanese monster bashes of the 1960s, the alien invasion only exists as a McGuffin to bring the creatures together.

For some reason, the filmmakers managed to talk Michael Rennie, most famous as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), into playing the alien leader. Rennie had successfully avoided being cast in science-fiction roles for more than a decade. However, by the mid-1960s, he was clearly hard up for cash and started appearing in Italian B movies. Dracula vs. Frankenstein was the last film he would appear in before he died the following year. What a comedown to be remembered for!

The other Waldemar Daninsky films are:- Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968), The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman (1971), Dr Jekyll and the Werewolf (1972), Fury of the Wolfman (1972), Curse of the Devil (1973), Night of the Howling Beast (1975), Return of the Wolfman/The Craving (1980), The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983) and Licanthropus (1996).


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