JESS FRANCO MONTH: Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972)

The third movie released in the U.S. as Dracula vs. Frankenstein (after Naschy in Los Monstruos del Terror and Al Adamson’s memorable movie), Jess Franco’s Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein follows his Christopher Lee-starring Count Dracula, with Howard Vernon taking over the role and being controlled by Dr. Frankenstein (Dennis Price). Their mutual enemy ends up being Dr. Jonathan Seward (Alberto Dalbes), who has already staked Dracula in the heart once and turned him into a dried-up little bat that he pins up in a collection.

Luckily — or unluckily for everyone else — Frankenstein bathes that bat in the blood of a nighclub dancer, which in the world of Jess Franco is the most perfect blood of all. Somehow, this is also a movie where Dracula never speaks.

It isn’t until the end of the movie that a gypsy beckons a werewolf to come attack the caste, because when we’ve come this far, you know, why not. And the Luis Barboo-played monster looks like an Azrak Hamway rack toy World Famous Official Super Monster than anything that Jack Pierce created.

Starting with 15-plus minutes of absolute silences and featuring characters often given words via narration, this movie shows that Franco had the good sense to reuse Bruno Nicolai’s soundtrack score from Justine and use Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães as a set, the same place where Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun would be filmed.

Best of all, Britt Nichols (also known as Carmen Yazalde), who shows up in other Franco movies like Daughter of Dracula and The Demons, brings glamour to her role as a lady vampire.

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