Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971)
Producers Samuel Sherman and Al Adamson really didn’t know what kind of movie they wanted to make. The Blood Seekers (or Blood Freaks, they couldn’t even really make up their mind about that) was originally just going to be a schlocky exploitation flick about a mad scientist (J Carrol Naish) and his mute henchman (Lon Chaney Jr) who liked to chop off girls’ heads and staple them to new bodies. The only Frankenstein element was that its two actors had both been in House of Frankenstein together (Chaney as the Wolf Man of course; Naish played his hunchbacked rival for the affection of Ilonka the gypsy girl).
After they shot it though, Sherman and Adamson kept tinkering. Frankensteinia has the whole story, but basically they didn’t like the movie they’d finished making in 1969 and shelved it until they came up with the idea of adding Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula to it. Adamson cast his accountant and stock broker in the two new roles and box office gold was made. Or not.
They brought Naish back in to shoot some new scenes with Dracula revealing that the scientist was a descendant of Frankenstein and that he and Dracula are plotting to murder the last of the scientists who laughed him out of the academy or whatever. The head-swapping plot became some kind of necessary preamble to creating a new Monster to assist Dracula in the murder. The film ends with Dracula’s turning on the Monster for some reason before getting impaled himself.
But Sherman and Adamson still weren’t done. Wanting a bigger battle, they hastily shot one and tacked it onto the end, but this time using a guy named Shelly Weiss for the Monster. Oddly, when it came time to credit the actors they listed them as two separate characters: Adamson’s accountant John Bloom as the Monster and Weiss as the Creature.
The makeup for the Monster/Creature kept Universal’s flat head and modified the head-staples into a giant band, but differs in the skin texture, which resembles something made out of bread dough. As bad as it all sounds (or actually, because it sounds so bad), I need to see this movie. Not only is it a disastrous mess, it also has some historical significance. Sadly, it was both Naish and Chaney’s last film.
With the monster-nostalgia craze still going into the early ’70s, it was inevitable that cereal makers would want to get in on the action. General Mills came out with two monster-themed cereals in ’71: Count Chocula and Franken Berry (often written as Frankenberry, because it’s cooler that way). Boo Berry didn’t come along until 1973 and Fruit Brute followed in ’74. Fruit Brute was cancelled in ’83 and replaced with the short-lived Yummy Mummy. One of my favorite things about Halloween is seeing Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry boxes on the shelves at Target.
I love this bit of trivia about Franken Berry from Wikipedia. I don’t know if it’s accurate, but the way it’s worded is awesome: “Franken Berry was very popular when first introduced possibly because the initial batches of the cereal used a dye that didn’t break down in the body, causing many children’s feces to be bright pink…” I always wanted it because it turned my milk pink, not my poop, but whatever makes you happy…