Horror 365 Movie 174: Blood Of Dracula’s Castle

All hail Crown International! These folks were grindhouse gods for over 20 years and brought us such exploitation classics as Blood Mania, Point Of Terror, and Trip With The Teacher. But then there was also Blood Of Dracula’s Castle.

Wowzers. It ain’t often that a movie comes along that’s so bad even I can’t enjoy it. I mean, I can’t even watch this in a purely camp sense. To call it a trainwreck would be wildly misleading. Trainwreck implies a functioning mechanism that was derailed on its way to a set destination.

Blood Of Dracula’s Castle is more like taking a bunch of random parts from a railroad yard, piling them on a track, and trying to pass them off as an actual train. It’s got the parts of a train but none of the properties of a train.

There is so much that is so disastrously wrong with this movie that it’s nearly impossible to pick a starting point. So let’s start with the setting. The film was shot in northern Los Angeles county at a place called Shea’s Castle. Portions were also shot in, of all places, Coachella Valley.

Yes, a castle. In California

In terms of the plot, the castle is set in Arizona, of course, where it is inhabited by Count and Countess Townsend. This is apparently an alias adopted by ol’ Drac meaning yeah they’re vampires.  Anyway, the Townsends, aren’t exactly the kinds of vampires one is generally accustomed to. There’s not much that’s alluring, beguiling, or otherwise attractive about them.

Paula Raymond is, shall we say, a less than convincing vampire queen, but Alexander D’Arcy plays the count with a certain air of suavity I suppose–the couple does drink their, uh, “Bloody Marys” from martini glasses after all. But D’Arcy comes off mainly like a discount Omar Sharif. Be that as it may, he was apparently a darling of Russ Meyer, Roger Corman, and one or two other B-flick directors.

Speaking of directors, Blood Of Dracula’s Castle was helmed by none other than Al Adamson whose life is, tragically, more interesting than his movies. Adamson was murdered in 1995 by his live-in contractor which you can learn all about in Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life And Ghastly Death Of Al Adamson.

Right. So our story, such as it is, starts with a woman being abducted by a big ol’ monstery-lookin’ guy which immediately makes me think of Jonathan Coulton’s “Skullcrusher Mountain.” Opening credits roll, and we meet our young protagonists Glen and Liz during about 8 minutes of him photographing her at Marineland. You know there are gonna be problems when your talent is upstaged by the walruses in the background.

Glen gets word that he’s just inherited Falcon Rock Castle, like ya do. It seems the Townsends never got around to renewing their lease or something. This means they are, in fact, squatters. They are attended to by their butler, George, the scenery-devouring John Carradine who maintains a basement full of young women from whom to drain blood for the upper management. Carradine is assisted by Mango, the aforementioned monstery guy.

The cast is rounded out by Johnny who is either a serial killer if you’re watching the theatrical version or a werewolf if you’re watching the late night TV version. the events of the movie play out over a heavily padded 84 minutes. When Glen and Liz arrive at the castle at about a half hour in, it already feels like 84 minutes has plodded by. Lucky us, there’s almost an hour left. And yet, Blood Of Dracula’s Castle is not without it’s small charms.

I suppose it’s nostalgia that keeps alive my tiniest bit of fondness for this movie. As an impressionable tyke, my aunt and uncle would sometimes babysit me and my brother. They’d let me stay up with them and watch Chiller Theater with Chilly Billy Cardille (WIIC-TV Channel 11 Pittsburgh thank you very much). Even as a wee lad I knew this movie was awful, and thus my devotion to bad horror was born.

BODIES- 10 onscreen (or 8 if you count the ending), 1 off
Stream- PLEX, YouTube

Horror 365 Movie (ish) 173: I Find Weird Stuff Part II

Every now and then it’s required that I leave the safe, homey confines of Castle Blogferatu and venture forth into the worst circle of Hell itself. Yes, Dear Reader, I occasionally have to go out in *shudder* Public. And worse still, I have to do stuff.

Today is one of those days. Sadly, that means a short post, even if it’s for no other reason than to keep this ill-conceived streak alive. To that end, I decided that every now and again, when circumstances such as these arise, I’d post something to give folks a little insight into Castle Blogferatu’s Benevolent Overlord.

If you’ve ever seen an interview with Guillermo Del Toro at his house, you know he’s got pretty much an entire floor dedicated to horror stuff–figures, posters, collectibles, etc. I’ve attempted to replicate something similar in my own place–all three rooms of it. So while Del Toro has a whole floor of stuff, I have a big bookshelf and a few items scattered here and there around the joint.

And so, meet Lavinia.

I did not name Lavinia. That’s the name she came with. She told me so. Lavinia was found by some misguided friends in some eerie little antique shop in some dark back alley in some remote part of the English countryside. Oddly, when my friends tried to return to the place the next day, they couldn’t find it. I guess they just lose track of things easily or something.

Okay I may have bent the truth a bit. Lavinia is the actually creation of Lorena Haldeman and is possibly the single most terrifying thing I own. For one thing, she looks kinda like the creepy-ass baby masks from Brazil (there’s my movie connection).

I’m kinda looking forward to face-to-face classes startin’ up again. My plan is to bring this cup to class on exam day, face it toward the students, and warn them that “Lavinia’s watching. Aaalllwaaays watching. She will know if you cheat. She never blinks. Not. Ever.”

And check out HaldeCraft to have a look at more of Lorena’s stuff.

Horror 365 Movie 172: Galaxy Of Terror

So again we dip into The Box Of Movie Titles–okay at this point it’s really become The Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Coffee Can Of Movie Titles, but let’s don’t split hairs. And out comes…Galaxy Of Terror. Very exciting cuz wowzers what a flick!

You don’t even have to start the movie to know this is gonna be a topshelf cinematic experience. Just look at that poster art! This is one of those many early 80s titles I brought home on VHS based solely on the cover even though that cover had absolutely zero to do with anything that happened in the movie.

Second, there’s lotsa familiar faces. Ray Walston, Erin “Joanie Cunningham” Moran, Grace Zabriskie (trust me, you’ve seen her around), pre-Freddy Robert Englund, and (wait for it)…Sid Haig! It’s produced by B-movie king Roger Corman and boasts James Cameron as Production Designer/Second Unit Director. Nothing unusual there. Lots of folks worked with Corman on their way to the big leagues.

After a bit of klunky prologue, the crew of the spaceship Quest is dispatched to and subsequently crash lands on planet Morganthus where, in short order, their individual phobias begin to manifest themselves to lethal effect.

In other words, your worst fear pretty much dictates how you die. It’s a great concept that doesn’t come off as successfully as it might have, plagued as it is by a not so big budget, some not so great acting, and one not very easy to get through scene.

Still, there’s some genuinely unnerving stuff here. And why shouldn’t there be? We’re dealing with people being dispatched by or in connection with their innermost fears. Highlights include tight spaces, isolation, dismemberment, dark holes, fire, and, to put it mildly, maggots (in particular a slimy 12-foot one. Yeah, read on).

It’s lamentable that the movie’s biggest weakness was, in 1981, considered one of its major strengths. I really don’t want to take up much space describing a rape scene that features a 12-foot maggot. Sadly that’s the scene Galaxy Of Terror is remembered for.

Google the title, and you’ll find an overwhelming amount of video and discussion about the scene in question. Even the Wikipedia article devotes a big ol’ bothersome chunk of text to it. Sure, it’s a big set piece, possibly the big set piece, but as such, it depressingly overshadows everything else.

I take issue as well with the ready comparison made between Galaxy Of Terror and Alien. Sure there are similarities. Who wouldn’t wanna capitalize on the groundbreaking success of Ridley Scott? And yet, the similarities such as they are don’t warrant labeling Galaxy Of Terror as “the best of the low-budget Alien ripoffs.” Ultimately it has more in common with Forbidden World, Forbidden Planet, and in some ways even First Spaceship On Venus.

And yet, I still love this movie. I generally skip that scene now, but the fates of the colorfully-named crewmembers are otherwise legitimately creepy (stop here if spoilers frighten you). Ilvar (Bernard Behrens) is attacked by tentacle-like things that emerge from a cave. Alluma (Moran) is squeezed to death in a vine-filled tunnel. Quuhod (Haig) loses his arm to one of his own weapons. Captain Trantor (Zabriskie) spontaneously combusts. And that’s just to name a few.

The ending comes almost full circle in the sense that we learn this is all a game. In this respect, it’s worth comparing Galaxy Of Terror to the “Squire Of Gothos” episode of Star Trek. Overall, one of the better descriptions I’ve seen is from The Loft: “an awesomely schlock-filled outer space freakshow.” If I hadn’t already seen it a number of times, “outer space freakshow” woulda sold me.

BODIES- 9 onscreen
Stream- Prime, Shout! Factory, Tubi
Rent- Apple TV, Vudu