Movie Reviews & Articles
"Blood of Dracula's Castle"
Anyone who has seen this movie from 1969 and who has also seen an In Dire Straits movie, can see how big an effect this movie had on the types of movies we would make 20 years later.
I first saw Blood of Dracula's Castle at a drive-in. After I saw it for the first time, I wasn't very impressed. I thought they didn't play it seriously enough what with the vampires being older and just drinking blood from wine glasses instead of attacking their victims and biting their necks.
It was too tongue-in-cheek for my tastes.
But back then, the drive-ins would show 2 or 3 features at one time and often the third one was a rerun of a recent release. Because of that, I saw Blood of Dracula's Castle several more times. And each time, I liked it more. It didn't have any gore, which was fine by me, but it did have a catchy song at the beginning and a number of sexy and helpless damsels-in-distress. And it did something very few movies ever did back then, it killed off one of the captured girls who had been featured since the beginning of the movie! Until Ann (Vicki Volante) was sacrificed in flames, you thought she would be rescued. That was very unusual for the time. This is the same young woman who's car breaks down in the beginning of the movie and who stumbles into Mango and is carried off to the castle. We follow what happens to her throughout the movie and it even looks like she might be saved by the young couple who's moved into the castle. No such luck for her!
On a meager budget, Dracula's Castle was able to secure both an excellent location and an impressive cast. The imposing structure was modeled after medieval Irish castles. Alex D'Arcy (Horrors of Spider Island) and Paula Raymond (Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), both of whose long careers were nearly at an end, were cast as Count and Countess Townsend (aka Dracula). Robert Dix (Forbidden Planet) played the psychopath Johnny! Veteran horror actor John Carradine was added for additional name value and cast as George the butler. The remaining cast included Gene O'Shea as Glen Cannon, Barbara Bishop as Liz Arden, and Ray Young as Mango . This combination of cast and location made it look like the budget was far higher than it really was.
Blood of Dracula's Castle is the tale of modern day vampires, the original Count and Countess Dracula going by the name of Townsend, living in an isolated desert castle. To survive, they send out Mango to capture young women and carry them back to the castle where they are chained in their dungeon basement and drained of their blood using modern of techniques. When the girls have been drained of most of their blood and are no longer needed, they are given to Mango for his own personal enjoyment. He carries them off to another room where we hear only their screams of terror! While in the dungeon, the chained girls have to cope with rats, and in the case of Ann, a tarantula crawling up her body. Johnny has fun terrorizing both Ann and Liz.
Dracula and his wife have apparently gotten mixed up with the cult of the moon goddess Luna. On the night of the full moon, they sacrifice one of their blood slaves with the help of their butler George, who just happens to be a high priest! Things get complicated when a young couple inherit the castle and decide they want to evict the current tenants and live there themselves.
Most audiences today would think the movie is too tame and doesn't have the necessary nudity. But for the time it was sexy enough. The young girl who's about to be sacrificed has her dressed ripped off right before they set her aflame. But nothing shows, and in fact, a long shot showing the butler lighting the fire clearly shows she's still dressed. That was a big continuity error that I caught. At least, that's what I thought for the last 40 years. But having seen a downloaded version of the movie, I can see that Ann is wearing a strapless bra that does show both when her dress is ripped and when Carradine sets the wood on fire. And the dress has only been torn off her right shoulder.
But the strangest part occurred when I sat down to watch it on TV back in the early 80s and I suddenly saw a totally different version of the movie that I had seen at the drive-in. Johnny now turns into a werewolf and attacks a prison guard and chases a young girl into the woods and kills her! This had never been shown in the theatrical version! Two versions were being offered to TV. The original version, from Crown International, is the same as the one in the theaters. In the other version, credited to Paragon International Pictures, the distributors apparently decided their weren't enough monsters in the mix so Johnny actually turned out to be a werewolf! The new footage doesn't make sense because the werewolf beats the guard to death with a club. And in the girl's death, he is wearing his prison uniform again even though this was after he had reached the castle and ditched his prison clothes. And later in the film, Johnny doesn't turn into a werewolf during the full moon sacrifice he participates in and is subsequently killed with a regular bullet!
At least I now see even "real" movies have a hard time deciding what to include and what not to in a movie.
Blood of Dracula's Castle is just one of the many films from the 50s, 60s, and 70s that have influenced how I shoot a movie today. Others we'll be looking at are King Kong (the original), all of the Fu Manchu movies with Christopher Lee, and the Ginger movies from the 70s.
Blood of Dracula's Castle is currently available on DVD from Rhino Home Video as part of their Horrible Horrors Collection, Volume Two. This set includes seven other films also owned by Crown International including the original Nightmare in Wax and the snake opus Stanley.
See a clip of Blood of Dracula's Castle.
If you sign on to Google, you can download the entire movie HERE.
(you need a Quicktime player in order to view it)