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!