October Horrorshow: Blood of Dracula’s Castle

Glen Cannon (Gene Otis Shane) is a lucky man. He has a decent career as a photographer, is about to marry and start a family with a model, Liz (Jennifer Bishop), and just inherited a castle in Arizona. That’s right. A castle. In Arizona.

There’s just one problem. The castle has been leased out to an aging couple for decades, and they don’t wish to leave. There’s actually another problem. The old couple are the Count and Countess Dracula (Alexander D’Arcy and Paula Raymond). They call themselves the Townsends now, but they are, indeed, the creature of legend and his wife.

Such is the setup to Blood of Dracula’s Castle, the 1969 cheapie from director Al Adamson and screenwriter Rex Carlton.

Gone are the days of terror in Transylvania and hedonism in London. Dracula, perhaps in a nod to fidelity, no longer enters the bed chambers of nubile women in the night. Rather, he and the countess send out his house monster, Mango (Ray Young), to trawl rural Arizona in search of victims, who are brought back and chained in the basement. There, the Townsend’s butler, George (John Carradine, who, it has to be said, cleans up nice), milks their blood as needed. The younger, the better, as young blood has vitality to it that keeps the Townsends from going grey. And then, one day, the new landlord shows up and tells the Townsends that as soon as he and his fiancé are married, they’re moving in, and the Townsends will have to be out. At least Glen had the guts to fly out to Arizona with Liz and tell the Townsends to their faces. He could have just hired a lawyer. (At heart, all Dracula stories seem to be about real estate, right?)

One would expect Dracula not to take any shit from a landlord, and just kill Glen and Liz outright. But this Dracula is a bit different. In fact, the Townsends as a couple are a total pleasure. D’Arcy and Raymond play the pair like two out of touch, effete aristocrats. They’ve been catered to and served for so long that they’re incapable Blood of Dracula's Castle movie posterof dealing with problems themselves. This is getting ahead of the plot, but their patrician uselessness is encapsulated near the end of the movie, as the count and countess meekly submit to being bound to chairs, and she says, channeling every rich old lady movie cliché, “Charles, cahn’t you do anything about this?”

The two of them really make the movie, but there’s one more character that adds to the gloriousness of this shitty flick. That is Johnny, played by Robert Dix. Johnny has been away for a while. Before Mango, it was Johnny who went out and found women to chain up in the castle basement. But, he’s been in an insane asylum. The Townsends arrange for his escape, and boy does he escape with vigor.

Johnny is a total psychopath, and good-looking too. He’s the shitty movie Ted Bundy. He kills everyone he comes across on his way to the castle. After he arrives, his glib violence and insanity are welcome additions to the other absurdities of the movie. Between the Townsends and Johnny, there is more than enough to keep the shitty movie fan entertained.

In fact, this is a very satisfying shitty movie watch from start to finish. Director Al Adamson seemed to have a serious case of the awfuckits when he filmed this. It may take place in Arizona, but the film was shot in California. The castle is played by Shea’s Castle, a private pile erected by a rich man in the 1920s, west of Lancaster. The landscape around the castle looks just like many parts of Arizona, so that works. But then there are scenes where characters go to and from the castle, and the scenery shifts to the Palos Verde Peninsula, with its glorious ocean views. Remember, this movie takes place in Arizona. The last I checked, there’s not a lot of oceanfront property available there. No wonder Glen wants the Townsends out of the house.

Shitty filmmaking moments like this abound, but the real draw of this film is not the cheapness or incompetence. It’s D’Arcy, Raymond, and Dix. They had more enthusiasm for their roles than Adamson had any right to expect out of such a low rent production. Even Carradine, who could reliably be expected to mail in a part like this, found some of his old fire. It’s almost too bad that this film is the story of the end of their time at the castle in Arizona. I would have loved to see this as a trilogy.

Still, I’m happy with this dog of a movie. I hope that someday, whoever owns this film finds the means or desire to restore it and release a proper HD print, because this is a genuine howler. Its watchability is hurt by the objective quality of the film. Nevertheless, Blood of Dracula’s Castle makes it into the top fifty in the Index, taking over the #48 spot from Leviathan. Check it out.

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