Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969) It Tests Shale-B Positive

Ask any vampire (go ahead, find one, I'll wait), and they will tell you that there is no place they would rather have their castle located than in the middle of a Arizona desert with hardly a tree or bit of shade to be found. Okay, maybe they wouldn't, unless they were that glittering, gibbering fool Edward Cullen, but if you're Count Dracula in an Al Adamson film, there's no better digs to have. Al is a cult movie legend. From films like Satan's Sadists to Blazing Stewardesses and Black Samurai, he left an enduring mark on horror, trash, and sleaze cinema in his all too brief eighteen year career. Today's film was his third directorial effort, and much like H.G. Lewis did with A Taste of Blood, Adamson was looking for a way to bring one of horror's greatest figures into the 1960's. However, unlike Lewis, Al wasn't going to settle for a Dracula surrogate, he was going to go for the real deal. So along with a psycho killer and a lunatic (and I'm not talking about the director), Dracula moved into a sandy castle intent of sipping the Bloodiest of all Marys.

Glen Cannon (Gene O'Shayne) is a photographer for Universal Magazine. One day while snapping shots of his model girlfriend Liz (Jennifer Bishop), Glen receives a telegram telling him that he's inherited a castle in Arizona from his distant Uncle. The castle is currently occupied by Count and Countess Townsend (a.k.a The Draculas) (Alexander D'Arcy and Paula Raymond), their moon worshiping butler George (John Carradine), the Frankenstein monster's cousin Mango (Ray Young) and close friend Johnny (Robert Dix), a psycho who gets extremely nutty during a full moon. Glen and Liz travel to Arizona to take possession of the castle, but the Count and crew are not ready to vacate. After all, they have a full basement of nubile your lasses chained up in the basement to drain. Imprisoning the young couple, the blood drinkers prepare for a sacrifice to the Moon god Luna, and one way or another, they intend to keep their desert home.

One of the things that's nice about this film is that the title helps answer an age old question, how do you get blood from a stone? Apparently, from the stones that make up Dracula's Arizona castle (which was really a Castle shaped ranch in California). It also raises quite a few though. Like "What happened to Dracula's pointed teeth?", "How did the terror of Transylvania get to the sun-drenched climes of Arizona?", and  "John Carradine,  why?" Unfortunately, none of these other questions get answered. While Blood of Dracula's Castle is not one of Adamson's greater efforts, it is a highly entertaining film. Despite the fact that the transfer I watched (from Mill Creek's Undead: Vampire Collection) was scratched and flawed beyond belief, I was completely entertained by the silliness that unfolded for ninety minutes. I can't say that it was a well made film, but it was a film that seemed aware that it would be good for a laugh. That goes a long way in my book.

Topping my list of the film's enjoyable bit would have to be the performance of Alexander D'Arcy. The Egyptian born actor was nearing the end of his career which began in 1927 with a small role in The Garden of Allah. IMDB describes D'Arcy as playing "oily types", and that pretty much sums the Count. With a pencil thin mustache, slicked back hair, and a smile that would make Mitt Romney weep, D'Arcy oozes his way through the film as Townsend/Dracula, and I loved every moment. His companion, the Countess, was originally a role intended for Jayne Mansfield, but when the actress passed, it went to Paula Raymond. Paula has appeared in many Noir films such as City that Never Sleeps, but her acting career was derailed in 1962 when her nose was severed in a car accident. After extensive plastic surgery, she returned to acting, but if her appearance in Blood of Dracula's Castle is any indication, she never reclaimed her former beauty (she did have nice gams though).

John Carradine is a delight as George the butler. If there's something that just about any film could use, it's a Carradine. John gets deeply hammy waxing poetic about the moon god, and playing off hothead Robert Dix,  he gets a number of great moments. Dix was also an acting veteran having appeared in films such as Sam Fuller's Forty Guns and Forbidden Planet. The cast is brilliant until you arrive at the protagonists. Gene Otis Shayne, whose last credit was 'Dancer' on The Monkees, and Jennifer Bishop, one of the original Hee Haw Honeys, are easily the worst part of Blood of Dracula's Castle. They try hard to muster up some charisma, but are easily overshadowed by the veterans. If these two characters could have been more realized, the entire flick could have overcome some of the cinematic flaws with the complete, quirky spin on the monster team-ups like House of Frankenstein. 

Some people have said that Al Adamson is an acquired taste. I don't know who these folks are that need time to ease into something as awesome as Al. His films are the kind that make me long for a Drive-in Theater playing double features culled from his career. Blood of Dracula's Castle is far from a perfect film. The story wanders all over the map (and varies according to what cut you watch), the lead actors are lame to the point of tragedy, and the film making never rises above standard. However, there's a ton of heart in this film. There's a lot of fun to be had while watching it, and there is such a thing as that long cliched beast the "so bad it's good" film. For horror fans and cult cinema junkies, Blood of Dracula's Castle is an excellent way to spend ninety minutes. If you're one of the high minded film snobby types, then Adamson's movies were never for you in the first place. For the rest of us, there's dozens out there for our enjoyment, and Blood of Dracula's Castle is a great place to start, or continue, an Al Adamson movie addiction.

Bugg Rating

And if you want to take a hit off the Al, you can do it right here. That's right, the whole film is embedded below. So check it out and let me know what you think!

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