Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969) poster

Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969)


aka Dracula’s Castle

USA. 1969.


Director – Al Adamson, Screenplay – Rex Carlton, Producers – Al Adamson & Rex Carlton, Photography – Leslie [Laszlo] Kovacs, Special Makeup – Kenny Osborne. Production Company – Paragon International Pictures.


John Carradine (George), Alex D’Arcy (Count Townsend/Dracula), Paula Raymond (Countess Townsend), Robert Dix (Johnny Davenport), Gene O’Shane (Glenn Cannon), Barbara Bishop (Liz Arden), Vicki Volante (Ann), Ray Young (Mango)


Photographer Glenn Cannon learns that he has inherited a castle in the California desert. He and his girlfriend/model Liz Arden head there to take ownership of the castle back from Count Townsend and his wife who have rented it for the last sixty years. In reality Count Townsend is Count Dracula. With the aid of his hulking manservant Mango, the Count abducts women and imprisons them in the dungeon so that he and his wife can feed on them. As Glenn and Liz arrive unaware of who their tenants are, the Townsends conspire to get rid of them.

Al Adamson (1929-95) is a director whose work should be regarded in the same arena as Edward D. Wood Jr. Adamson made a body of works that are all universally terrible. Most of these are works that Adamson started shooting before financing ran out and were then incorporated into other films like some kind of Frankensteinian patchwork creation. (See below for Al Adamson’s other genre films).

Blood of Dracula’s Castle came just at a point when the Dracula Film and the Vampire Film had undergone a major new resurgence with the Hammer Dracula films starring Christopher Lee. It was at the head of a wave of films that over the next few years would begin asking the question of how to integrate the vampire into the modern world – see the likes of Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), The Velvet Vampire (1971), Blacula (1972), Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), The Night Stalker (1972) and Salem’s Lot (1979).

Al Adamson doesn’t have much of an answer to the question of how to modernise in Blood of Dracula’s Castle. Like tv’s Dark Shadows (1966-71) around the same time, he brings a vampire in the present day but spends the entire time keeping him in traditional Gothic surroundings – a big gloomy mansion in Dark Shadows, a castle in the desert here (in actuality Shea’s Castle in Lancaster, California). Both vampires sit in their surrounds and interact with modern visitors, as well as keep some of them prisoner, and that is about the extent of it.

John Carradine, Vicki Volante and Barbara Bishop in Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)
In the dungeon with John Carradine (with candelabra) and in chains (l) Vicki Volante and (r) Barbara Bishop

The film headlines John Carradine who had an extensive history in the horror genre. Carradine had played Dracula in Universal’s House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945) and most recently in Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1965), which would have been shooting around the same time as Blood of Dracula’s Castle. However, the surprise is that Carradine does not play Dracula here but his loyal butler/manservant.

The main problem with Blood of Dracula’s Castle is that it resurrects an iconic character like Dracula – and then does nothing with him. The role of Dracula is played by Alex D’Arcy who looks as though he is on the way to a salesman’s convention and has gotten waylaid by happy hour rather than any iconic horror figure. D’Arcy spends all his time wearing a tuxedo – the nearest we get to any blood-drinking is he and his wife (Paula Raymond) being served up glasses of what we are told is blood.

Though John Carradine is cast as what should be the supporting role of the butler, he is the one that gets to project far more menace. D’Arcy’s Dracula is a character with no fangs and what happens in terms of threat in the film comes from Carradine and Robert Dix. We get no traditional vampirism – one scene where blood is drawn from Vicki Volante in a syringe and others where D’Arcy and Townsend are drinking it – and the rest is people tied up in the dungeon and the climactic scenes with sacrifices to Luna. In tv versions of the film and some dvd releases, there is the addition of several scenes where Robert Dix also turns into an anaemic looking werewolf. It can’t even be said that there is much drama to any of this as a film.

Al Adamson directed a number of genre films including Satan’s Sadists (1969) about a sadistic motorcycle gang; Horror of the Blood Monsters/Vampire Men of the Lost Planet (1970); the Filipino mad scientist/monster movie Brain of Blood (1971); Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971); Blood of Ghastly Horror (1972), the softcore sf film Cinderella 2000 (1977); Death Dimension (1978), an action film with some sf elements; the possession film Nurse Sherri (1978); co-directed Dr Dracula (1980), which is confusingly about the reincarnation of Svengali; and the bizarre children’s film Carnival Magic (1981) about an intelligent circus chimpanzee. Blood and Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019) is a documentary about Adamson’s life and films.

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