Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

BILLY THE KID vs. DRACULA (1966) * *

Count Dracula (John Carradine) arrives in the Old West by stagecoach. He dispatches the other passengers after learning about pretty young Betty (Melinda Plowman) from her relatives. Dracula meets Elizabeth (Betty) Bentley at her ranch and convinces her that he is her long-lost uncle. Betty allows Dracula to move in, and he soon takes control of her and the ranch. One of the hired hands is former outlaw "Billy the Kid" Bonney (Chuck Courtney), who has put his criminal past behind him.

Billy: "What's wrong with her, Doc? What are those marks on her neck?"
Dr. Hull: "Well, if I didn't know better, I'd say it was the work of a vampire."
Billy: "Vampire?...I haven't met a man yet that a bullet couldn't stop."
Dr. Hull: "But he isn't a man!"

Billy is engaged to Betty. Dracula forbids Betty to marry him, then fires Billy the Kid. The fastest fangs in the West snacks on an Indian squaw and a few sheep. Billy shoots 6 bullets into the bloodsucker, then hits him on the nose with his gun. Finally with the help of Dr. Henrietta Hull (Olive Carey), Billy learns about vampirism and in the end destroys Dracula.

John Carradine makes a splendid Dracula, and played the role several times, most notably in HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945). This version is a vintage camp classic directed by William Beaudine, known as "One-Shot" Beaudine for his economical approach to filmmaking. He made 256 movies in his career and this was his second-last, which he shot back-to-back with another horror/Western, JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER.

The movie is a genuine Western with lots of cowboys, horses, stagecoaches, wild west towns, and so on. The horror part of the film is equally typical. Mixing the genres together is what makes it unusual and interesting. It is a tribute to John Carradine's screen presence that he alone makes it a horror movie, and a good one despite the low budget.

Others in the cast include: Virginia Christine (Eva Oster), Walter Jovitz (Frank Oster), Bing Russel (Dan Thorpe), Roy Barcroft (Sheriff Griffin), Richard Reeves (Pete), Marjorie Bennett (Mary Ann Bentley), William Forrest (James Underhill), George Cisar (Joe Flake), Harry Carey, Jr. (Ben Dooley), Leonard P. Geer (Yancy), William Challee (Tim), and others. Jack Lewis wrote the script but Carl K. Hittleman gets the credit. Music is by Raoul Kraushaar.

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