Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Bela Lugosi Dracula

I’ve been thinking about Dracula, specifically Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the character in the greatest horror-comedy of all-time, "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein." It dawns on me that the screenplay of that film and Lugosi's performance within it have done more to solidify Dracula's standing among monster-dom than perhaps anything else. By that I mean that it presents the bloodthirsty count as a major player who not only can wreak havoc in his own world (as in the original Lugosi "Dracula" from 1931) but is also an imposing figure on the world stage. He's not just Dracula terrorizing Transylvania; he's an ubelieveably formidible proponent of evil who can bring the entire world to its knees if not stopped.

Dr. Doom Marvel Comics

The Dracula of "A&C Meet Frankenstein" is akin to a James Bond villain, or a major comic book megalomaniacal fiend like Superman's Lex Luthor or the Fantastic Four's Doctor Doom. Someone who is cunning, intelligent and can have legions at his beck and call at any time… and manipulate them to enact his diabolical schemes. You see this played out specifically in "Mad Monster Party" and "The Monster Squad” and countless films from around the globe, be it the classy Hammer horrors from England to the bombastic Paul Naschy monster epics from Spain, from the slapdash cult curios like Al Adamson’s “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” to the big-budget actioner “Van Helsing.” Which is quite ironic when you take into account how many “die-hard” classic monster fans despise the Abbott & Costello film as what they label the “death-knell” of the Universal Monsters.

Dracula Mad Monster Party

The truth is, as I explored in my review of the film, the monsters were actually treated with respect and given a new lease on life via their encounters with Bud and Lou. And Dracula? He became the biggest baddie of them all in the process. He runs the show and strikes ultimate fear as the most evil of monsters. Which makes the heroes’ inevitable victories over him all the sweeter. Bravo, Frederic I. Rinaldo and Robert Lees (scribes behind “A&C Meet Frankenstein”) and bravo times ten to the irrepressible Bela – who at age 65 essayed the role of his most famous character with all the gusto (and maybe more so) that he did back in the original 1931 “Dracula” movie (when he was merely 48)!

oh chick part 2

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1 comment:

  1. Paul,
    On this Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil
    cast no shadow mirroring in much the same
    way Lugosi's Drac had no time to reflect
    on his condition/situation when confronted
    by that wily Dutchman Edward Van Sloan as
    Van Helsing.
    Speaking of "Van Helsing", the unsuccessful
    2004 action flick/'toon/video game disguised superficially as a "horror film", w/the only parts worth mentioning are the excellent
    B&W "prologue" (which IMHO the whole movie should have been in)& the buzzing of
    the village by the 3 vampiress babes, the
    restof it just so-so, but the thing that really intrigued me 'bout plot was that "Dragula" utilised "The Lifeforce of ↯Frankenstein↯" to help his "Baby Gro-Bags" hatchery to bring the bat-kids to full term
    — sheer genius!
    Always wondered HOW/WHY Drac & "Frankie"
    can be such a great threat as Larry Talbot said in "A & C Meet ↯Frankenstein↯", how a
    500 year old guy who sleeps in a coffin
    during the day, & a shambling, possibly
    partly blind (as seen in both "Ghost Of" & "↯Frankenstein↯ Meets") "semi-retarded 8"
    tall could be so formidable.
    Interesting that after the excelsior ("Excelsior!" — Stan Lee) is removed from
    the shipping crates, Wilbur is "hypnotized", Chic is looking for chicks on MacDougal
    (as evidenced by his relentless pressuring
    of Wilbur for Sandra &/or Joan later on)
    Drac uses his official signet ring to revive "Frankie" by making what looks like magick gestures & passes to the uninitiated, but is actually a very high technology, heretofore unknown to 1948, dealing with bio-fields, polarity, orgone life-energy, electrical-arc spark off his ring to "Frankie's" 'lectodes,
    is further visual evidence of this.
    "...the ghouls all came from their humble abode, to get a ↯JOLT↯ from my electrode..."
    (I prefer Coca~Cola)
    Y'know the famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke
    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
    Yea, the stuff of comic-book super-villainy!
    It hold trues in Dracula's case, as you've so astutely observed, not just in "...Meet ↯Frankenstein↯" but even in the yuk-yuk-yuk
    "Munsters" as Sam Dracula besides being "Dracula", is a sort of half-assed MAD monster scientist himself, albeit a benign, friendly one.
    "I don't want to scare anybody, I just want to be friendly!"
    How the writers Rinaldo & Lees even incidentally placed the germ of an idea, without any real knowledge or grasp of an unknown science, that would be logically expanded on 56 years later is really something, wouldn't you agree?
    "Dr. Lajos" morphed into Richard Roxburgh's
    "Count", along with his ačcent & laboratory
    "The games a foot!", let's give 'im a big
    On this Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil
    cast no shadow mirroring in much the same
    Mr. On