As I was downstairs this morning toasting a sourdough English muffin, I was flipping through the channels on the TV. I noticed a “film” on the MGMHD channel called “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” from 1971, starring Lon Cheney, Jr, with this horrible description:
Count Dracula forces fun-park operator Dr. Frankenstein to revive his infamous monster.
Oh, yeah. That sounds like a recipe for box-office gold! Given that I had ten minutes or so before my breakfast was ready, and seeing as there was nothing else on, I decided to check it out. I hoped to learn how Dr. Frankenstein had come to such a low station as a “fun-park operator,” and perhaps what his qualifications were for such a position. I also hoped to learn how Count Dracula, who was vanquished in the 1800s was still around to wreak his particular brand of havoc. Alas, I didn’t get answers to either of my questions. Here’s what I did see.
The scene I came into was two hippies, a man and a woman, talking about the kind of crap that movie hippies normally talk about. The hippie man rolls a tire down the alleyway and tells the hippie girl, “Go get it!” as if she were a dog. She scampers down the alley, and stops dead in her tracks. Coming toward her, very slowly, is the local violent biker gang. All three of them. They kind of reminded me of the Black Window gang from Every Which Way But Loose, if you remember them. Anyway, the leader says to the girl, something like, “So… where have… you… been?” in his most menacing-ish voice, and with appropriate pauses for high-school-quality effect. She dreamily replies that “I’ve pulled myself… out… of the… gutter! Why don’t you all… cut out!” The boy hippie sashays to the girl’s side and dramatically intones, “Are you… OK?” She doesn’t reply. Biker gang henchman #1 says, “I don’t think she likes us very much,” or something like that. The leader continues, “Nobody leaves us. I need a new girl… today. So why don’t you… climb on the back of this… bike… and we’ll… cut out…” Oooh, throwing her own words back at her! Such moxie! Such acting chops!
The two henchmen dismount and walk to the hippie man, menacingly, and at this precise moment, a savior arrives! A police car comes slowly down the alley. The henchmen saddle up, smirking menacingly-ish, and the gang then cuts out. Slowly, and with feeling.
The police car passenger door opens, and Sgt. Martin gets out. Hey! It’s Jock Ewing, from Dallas! (Is Miss Ellie in the backseat? No? OK.) Hippie girl #2, who has just arrived, gets up in his face and accuses him of not doing enough to protect the city. He replies that this is “my part of town” and that after so long there, one “learns the games people play” and from this knowledge knows when to “break it up” and when to “walk away.” Kenny Rogers could not have said it any better. He turns to get back in the squad car, then turns and says, very dramatically, “Stay away from the beaches! There’s a maniac on the loose!” He gets back in the car, and I turned off the TV. I did consider recording the rest of it, but then I decided I had much better things to do, regardless of the fact that I didn’t get my questions answered. Ah, well.
Now, perhaps the movie improved as it went on. And perhaps a preposterous-sounding plot was actually well-thought-out and developed. And perhaps the acting in the rest of the film was much better. Yeah, probably not. The things one sees on early morning TV.