Saturday, November 4, 2017

Billy the Kid vs. Dracula

TCM ran Billy the Kid Versus Dracula in October as part of Dracula's being the "Monster of the Month" for Halloween. The movie is available on DVD, so I can do a full-length post on it with no qualms.

The title pretty much gives away what the movie is about, but we don't see Billy the Kid for some time. Dracula (John Carradine) shows up right away, preying upon a German immigrant family who are migrating west with a wagon train but ultimately get detached from it. The mother in the family, Eva (Virginia Christine), knows all about vampires and knows the horror they can bring. Cut to a scene of Dracula aboard a stagecoach, where he learns that Mrs. Bentley has picked up her brother to bring him to her late husband's ranch, so that the brother can be the legal guardian to her daughter Betty (Melinda Plowman) until Betty turns 21. Dracula sees a photo of Betty and immediately begins to lust after her. So he arranges for the Indians to ambush the stage and kill everybody aboard.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Betty has hired William Bonney (Chuck Courtney), alias "Billy the Kid" as the ranch foreman, something that bugs some of the other ranch hands (one of them is Kurt Russell's dad Bing). Betty is in love with Billy, and plans to marry him. Dracula has taken her uncle's identity papers and shows up at the ranch claiming to be her uncle, all the better to make her his bride. Eva and her husband show up because their daughter has been killed (by Dracula, of course), and they try to warn Betty and Billy about vampires.

You can probably guess from the title Billy the Kid Versus Dracula that the movie is going to be low-budget horror schlock, and fun schlock it is. There's absolutely nothing frightening about this one, with a red light shining across Dracula's face when he's about to attack somebody. Dracula can turn into a bat to get from one location to another quickly, and the bat they use is hilariously artificial, against an impossibly blue sky. And then the few times Dracula has to try to scare people, he does it by growling like a dog, as if this is supposed to scare anybody. Sure, it's no good, but it isfun.

Billy the Kid Versus Dracula is on a DVD set together with another movie produced at the same time by the same people (notorious quickie director William Beaudine who did a whole bunch of Bowery Boys movies), Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.

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