ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn
Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1967) is truly a boring film, even for Al Adamson, who is not known for making great films. The most exciting bit of action in this movie was the scene-stealing walrus in the opening scene shot at the old Marineland in Palos Verdes, California. That walrus puts in a more energetic better performance than any of the human actors.
The story concerns Mrs. and Mrs. Count Dracula, who have essentially retired as “The Townsends” to a castle in the California desert (Falcon Rock Castle Antelope Valley, California.)
Now free from a life of killing villagers in Europe their new life is one of leisure. There’s no more hunting for these two elites! Their new bougie diet consists mostly of bloody cocktails prepared for them by their butler George played by John Carradine, a priest in a cult who worships Luna the Moon God along with the Townsends.
The blood comes from the various girls kept chained in the basement, most of whom are collected from the nearby highway and brought home by their deformed Igor-like caretaker Mango played by Ray Young. A tall stunt actor better known as the boulder-throwing half of The Kroft Supershow staple Bigfoot and Wildboy (1976.)
The Townsends and also have a strange relationship with a local serial killer named Johnny (Robert Dix). Although how he came to be close with the Townsend’s is never explored, they seem to have a reciprocal relationship. One in which he brings them victims for promised initiation into vampirehood. In the alternate television version (yes, there are two versions of this snorefest – both available online) Johnny is a werewolf.
After escaping from a mental institution, Johnny kills a few people just for the hell of it on the way home to the castle. Here, the added werewolf scenes actually make sense. Somewhat. In the original version Johnny mentions repeatedly how he can’t control his murderous urges when there’s a full moon. The problem with the new inserts lies in the fact that they were clearly shot years later. The hairstyle and wardrobe of the victim places it squarely in the ‘70s and the electronic music bears no resemblance to the music in the rest of the film.
One would think that a police pursuit of a serial killer/werewolf would be exciting. It isn’t. That’s the problem with this movie. Even when things happen it doesn’t feel like it. There’s an utter lethargy to the acting, camera placement and editing. During the chase, the screen direction is completely off and there is very little foley to bring the soundtrack to life.
Once reunited, the Townsends, Johnny, George and Mango now have a new problem to contend with. They must find a new place to live. Sadly, after a nice, calm, sixty-year tenancy, their 108-year-old landlord has died, leaving the castle to his nephew. The new landlord – a photographer named Glenn Cannon and his perpetually complaining model fiancé Liz decide they’re going to live there.
When they show up to inspect the place, instead of chaos, we are treated to a series of long civil discussions between the characters. Most disappointing of all is that the vampires never do anything. They’re far too spoiled and sophisticated. Count Townsend (played by Horrors of Spider Island star Alex D’arcy) is so nonchalant that at one point he tells a potential victim, “Oh, no. We won’t kill you. We need your blood,” with the calm tone of a man making small talk. They don’t even fight when Glenn ties them up in the finale. They’re far too used to being looked after by their staff to do anything as vulgar as defend themselves. If the Howell’s on Gilligan’s Island were vampires, this is exactly how they’d behave. The effect is equally as comical. However, they don’t go as gently into the ether as one might think. After sacrificing a girl on the beach to Luna, aging and turning to dust when the morning sun shines through the window, two bats emerge from the vampires’ fancy party clothes and fly off. Perhaps to rent another castle somewhere else and start over. George and Johnny are dispatched by our heroes. Glenn saves Liz. Mango gets shot, axed and thrown off a cliff. It should be exciting. It isn’t.
Link to the theatrical Crown International cut:
Link to the Television Paragon “Werewolf” cut: