BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA (director: William Beaudine; screenwriter: Carl K. Hittleman; cinematographer: Lothrop B. Worth; editor: Roy V. Livingston; music: Raoul Kraushaar; cast: John Carradine (Count Dracula), Chuck Courtney (Billy the Kid), Melinda Plowman (Betty Bentley), Virginia Christine (Eva Oster), Walter Janowitz (Franz Oster), Hannie Landman (Lila Oster), Olive Carey (Dr Henrietta Hull), Roy Barcroft (Sheriff Griffin), Bing Russell (Dan Thorpe), Marjorie Bennett (Mrs. Ann Bentley), William Forrest (James Underhill), Richard Reeves (Pete, saloonkeeper); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carroll Case; Embassy Pictures; 1966)
“To get into this flick one not only has to suspend one’s disbelief, but one’s sense of judgment and taste.”
William “One-Shot” Beaudine (“Voodoo Man”/”Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”/”The Face of Marble”) directs this awful camp exercise in futility that blends together into one movie a horror classic with a legendary Western classic, which is like mixing oil and water: a recipe for disaster. Carl K. Hittleman hands in the lame script. To get into this flick one not only has to suspend one’s disbelief, but one’s sense of judgment and taste.
For some unfathomable reason Count Dracula (John Carradine) is traveling alone through the American West by stagecoach. When not on the stagecoach he assumes being a bat and puts his fang marks on the immigrant Swedish Oster family’s (Walter Janowitz & Virginia Christine) pretty young daughter Lila (Hannie Landman), as the family is sleeping out in the prairie. The Count leaves the stagecoach at night to put the bite on an Indian squaw, which stirs them up to attack the stagecoach during the day and kill everyone on board including the owner of the Double Bar B ranch, the widow Mrs. Ann Bentley and James Underhill, her bachelor banker brother who never ventured outside of Boston. Dracula, not on the stagecoach, retreats to the slaughtered stagecoach and picks up Underhill’s identification papers and a photo of Ann’s pretty 18-year-old daughter Betty (Melinda Plowman), as he then ventures to town where he bluffs his way to become the minor’s guardian even though he’s the uncle that she never met before.
The reformed Billy the Kid, now called Bill Bonney, is the new law-abiding bland foreman of Betty’s ranch and her fiance, and he has to puzzle over a lot of things he just doesn’t understand. For instance: the immigrant couple show up in town and claim that Underhill is a vampire, the former foreman Thorpe (Bing Russell) is a thug who is itching for a gun fight with Billy to make a rep for himself, and the bossy Underhill is such a sour apple that even if he weren’t a vampire he’d still be a monster.
Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.
If you hang around until the end, you’ll see Billy and Dracula tangle in an abandoned silver mine on the ranch and after Billy knocks him cold by throwing his gun at his face he sticks a scalpel in the Count’s heart. This causes Dracula’s body to dissolve and Betty recovers from being put in a trance by him in order to make her his vampire wife.
This film comes twenty-one years after Carradine played for the last time Dracula; now at the age of 59 he goes that route one more time. But in this film, he’s so much a superior thesp than anyone else in the pic, that he looks strangely out of place among the other hayseed B-film thesps and his hammy acting is risible rather than entertaining. Though he does provide a few jolts when he barks out to the frightened immigrant woman “You clumsy idiot!” and makes everyone take note when he snarls out that “I demand privacy!”, but it’s not quite enough to give this film any kind of real charge.
The film is bad but only disappoints that it’s not really bad enough to be placed up there on a pedestal with the likes of really all-time bad films such as Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
REVIEWED ON 1/29/2007 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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