Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula (1966)

During this Halloween season, every Halloween season actually, I try my best to take in a few more fright flicks than I normally do. I also seem to have to work them in around television viewing as well since I am pretty much hooked on The Walking Dead and American Horror Story series. Fox’s Sleepy Hollow has also found its way into my DVR schedule as well.
However I took the time to sit down and watch a “real piece of crap”. I use this quote because that is exactly what actor John Carradine called this movie. What movie you may ask? Why a movie entitled “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula”.

Mixing up the old west with the undead is a great idea. It combines two totally different worlds. The “new” world of the early 19th century and the “old” world horrors of Eastern Europe (where the vampire seems to hail). Two opposite worlds that have the ability to collide into a chilling cataclysmic explosion. It is a shame this film just exploded into a big pile of steaming poop. Okay that’s a bit harsh because I did actually enjoy this movie but on the level of enjoying Ed Wood’s 1959 sci-fi/horror classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.
And this is how you shoot an injun.

The Premise of this movie is pretty simple really. Billy the Kid (Chuck Courtney) is reformed and is living in a small town under the name William H. Bonney (as if no one knew the outlaw’s real name?). He has been smitten by Elizabeth Bentley (Melinda Plowman), owner of the ranch that Billy is employed. Elizabeth is waiting on the arrival of her Uncle James who is going to help run the ranch and hopefully give Billy the blessing of taking her hand in marriage. On route to the ranch Elizabeth’s Uncle and Aunt share a stagecoach with the immortal blood sucker himself Dracula (John Carradine). Dracula learns of the ranch and the beautiful young Elizabeth. During the traveling the Count slips away to have a snack on some German immigrants making their way to the same town.
The horror of not using Palmolive after a vampire attack.

 He also pays a visit to an Indian tribe which insights the Indians to attack the stage coach. At least that’s what I got out it. I could be wrong but at this point I didn’t expect the movie to make any sense anyway. Uncle James is killed which gives the Count the chance to play the role of Elizabeth’s Uncle whom she hasn’t met by the way.

The Count makes his way into town, during the day I might add, and immediately is met with some leery eyes, especially from the German immigrants who have made their way into town and just so happen to land jobs at the same ranch. Dracula finishes off the immigrants daughter and the talk of vampirism begins to be spread by the immigrants. Of course this idea is scoffed at. Even Elizabeth scoffs the idea when she delivers one of the best pieces of dialogue.
Dracula....schmoooozin' the popo.

“Vampires? Why that is just stupid. I’ve never even heard of a vampire”. 

Really? Then how can you comment on the existence or lack thereof? It’s just the tip of the absurd iceberg that is Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. Good ole Dracula decides that Elizabeth is to be his vampire bride and forbids Billy to see her. Billy begins to put two and two together, which is quite a feat, and takes the combined advice of the old world superstition from the immigrants and the new world scientific facts from the town Doctor. 

Bela eat  your heart out....or role over in your grave.
Once Drac’s identity is revealed he takes off to the abandoned silver mine and fully vampirize Elizabeth (on a bed that is in the mine, complete with red velvet comforter????). Billy comes to the rescue and realizing that bullets have no effect on the Lord of the Undead, throws the gun at Dracula…..which smashes him in the face rendering him unconscious. No really that’s what happens, I was completely baffled as well! Billy stakes the vampire, who turns into a bat and flees into the sun which now has some kind of effect on the bat and Dracula’s body turns into a pile of bones…..ooooookaaaaay.

The patented sleeper hold!
I have to concur with Mr. Carradine’s opinion of this film. It really is crappy but crappy in a way that makes it almost irresistible. Carradine delivers the hammy goods as usual and basically reprises his role from his days as the Count in Universal’s “House of Frankenstein” (1944) and “House of Dracula” (1945). Carradine’s “eyes of Dracula” are no match for that of Bela Lugosi however. I was lucky enough to see the Turner Classic Movie's presentation in HD which boats a beautiful transfer with nice colors. Why is it this piece of junk survives with a pristine print yet Lon Chaney’s “London After Midnight” (1927) is basically lost forever? The mind boggles and so will yours after taking a gander at this movie. This movie was released in 1966 on a double bill with another old west vs. horror legend film, “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”. I guess I need to pop some more popcorn and spin that one next!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Monster Fest 10 - Chesapeake Central Library - Chesapeake Virginia Oct. 5th.

Ahhhh my favorite time of the year and my favorite convention came this past weekend to the Chesapeake Central Library in Chesapeake, Virginia.

For the past ten years on the first Saturday of October, Monster Fest has been an annual event. Monster Fest was created by Rob Floyd and Clayton Sayre out of their love for all things horror, monsters and cult. Monster Fest is a free event that is open to the public via the wonderful graces of the library and is appropriate for all ages. Did I mention it was free? This year marks the 10th anniversary of the convention and it was a blow out for sure!
Monsters galore!

The Fest always features, as most conventions do, vendors with plenty of cool swag and collectables. There are also local artists and authors selling their items. There are also plenty of costumes to behold as many attendees come dressed as their favorite horror characters or the product of their own incredible imaginations. Each year participants get to enter themselves into a costume contest judged by some of the guest T.V. personalities and vendors.
Dr. Madblood.

Local T.V. horror host Dr. Madblood always makes his presence known at Monster Fest and will makes his rounds throughout the convention documenting all the fun that is to be had for his Halloween special which airs towards the end of October.
Penny Dreadful (far right) attends her table.

 Other T.V. hosts come for the fun as well such as Penny Dreadful who hails from New England. Other past fests have seen the appearance of the Bowman Body from Richmond, Virginia and Dr. Sarcofiguy also from Virginia.

For those who like to get their geek on, like myself, there are also a slew of discussion panels and presentations ranging from zombie preparedness to discussions on horror film directors such as Mario Bava. This year monsterkid friend Josh Watson and I tackled George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and its impact on horror cinema and zombiedom.

The Cemetery Boys diggin up some creepy tunes!
There was also live entertainment! The Cemetery Boys made their third (I believe their third) appearance playing right out side the front doors. Performing some great spooky rock to set the mood for the days activities. This year's attendance set a record if I am not mistaken of 2,800 monster fans!!

The Sons of Frankenstein crankin out the jams at Fantasmo!
The convention winds down around 5 pm but don't worry because the doors open back up around 7:30pm for a double feature screening of classic horror films under the banner of Fantasmo Cult Cinema Explosion, which happens to be a bi-monthly event at the library all year round. This year's screening included Horror of Dracula (1958) and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943). Fantasmo was also the site of the first live appearance of the band The Sons of Frankenstein, a band I happen to play guitar in. We warmed up the already enthusiastic crowd of 130 with some fun rock n roll with a little bit of a monster edge.

So if you live in the Tidewater area come on over every October for Monster Fest! Also don't forget the bi-monthly Fantasmo Cult Cinema Explosion! Fun for monsterkids of all ages!!

Some more shots from Monster Fest 10!

Need a Vampire head?

Brother Shock (official mascot) welcomes you!

Such a lovely clown!

Some of the creations you will find lurking!

Monster Fest creator Rob Floyd and Uncle Felonious from Dr. Madblood.

The Wolfman is lurking

The Fright Shop staff will do you right! The Fright Shop

Costume contest!

Creepy bunny!

Mutant Rooster!

Some more vendors as Penny Dreadful shops around.

Coffindan and the official The Sons of Frankenstein guitar pick!

Rocking out with the Time Warp!