Sunday, February 25, 2024


Day 24 of Franco-February is a brand new review for the recent release of Jess Franco's oddball and nudity-free, euro-cult monster-rally Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972), available on Blu-ray from Severin Films. 

Label: Severin Films 
Region Code: Region-Free 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 83 Minutes 16 Seconds 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual-Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono, Italian Dolby Digital Mono, German Dolby Digital Mono, French Dolby Digital Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Jess Franco
Cast: Howard Vernon, Dennis Price, Alberto Dalbés, Carmen Yazalde,  Geneviève Robert, Mary Francis, Brit Nichols 

A monster mash-up from Jess Franco inspired by the  Universal monster flicks from the 1940's - heck yeah! The fright flick opens with bug-eyed Count Dracula (Howard Vernon, How To Seduce a Virgin) attacking and draining a gorgeous young woman (
Anne Libert, A Virgin Among the Living Dead
) of her blood. When Dr. Seward (Alberto Dalbes, The Silence of the Tomb) finds the woman's 
bloodless corpse he tracks Dracula to his castle lair and dispatches him with a stake through the heart while he sleeps in his coffin, reducing the vampire to a tiny dried-up bat, with a stake through it's heart. With the castle now vacant who should move-in but Dr. Frankenstein (Dennis Price, Vampyros Lesbos) and his hunchbacked and brain-damaged assistant Morpho (Luis Barboo, The Witches Mountain), who set up a laboratory continue their experiments to resurrect Frankenstein's monster (Fernando Bilbao, The Exterminators of the Year 3000). Having successfully resurrected the monster Dr. Frankenstein sends it out to acquire young women, the first of whom is a local cabaret singer (Josyane Gibert, Death on a Rainy Day), whose blood he uses to resurrect Dracula. Frankenstein then uses the vampire, who is now under his control, to go out drain more women, this being an effort to create an army of bloodsucker-brides who will do his bidding. The only person to stand in Frankenstein's way is the mysterious gypsy witch Amira (Genevieve Robert, Dave) and a werewolf who is under her control! Also be on the lookout for Carmen Yazalde (Tombs of the Blind Dead) as one of Dracula's lovely vampire brides. 

This is a strange one indeed, first and foremost because there's no actual nudity which is just bizarre for a Franco flick, he went full-on mad-scientist/monster movie with this one. Fear not though, his penchant for rampant zoom-ins every few minutes is quite intact. While this is a obviously a z-grade production as with many cash-strapped Franco productions of this era he makes the most of what little he had, with some wonderfully Gothic atmosphere via the crumbling castle location and it's candlelit interiors. 

Onto the monster mash-up elements, first off I love Franco regular Howard Vernon (How To Seduce a Virgin) as Dracula, sure, he looks a bit silly to be honest but he's committed to it even though he is miscast, and he's the least-worst of the monsters here. The lumbering, square-headed Frankenstein also looks silly, clearly an attempt at a throwback to Karloff's iconic turn, but that make-up job, oof, terrible. The poor Wolf Man fares the worst of the trio with his plastic Halloween fangs and looking like he has  face full of  pubic hair spirit-gummed to his face, looking like a ten year old's attempt at imitating Jack Pierce's iconic make-up, and failing. There's a reason he's the least seen of the trio. A scene of Dracula and his vampire bride transforming into bats is, you guessed it, fuckin-a hilarious, these wobbly bats make the usual Hammer rubber bats seem absolutely 
lifelike by comparison. I do not think this is meant to be comical but it is quite a funny monster mash-up in how poorly edited and is just so confusing it all is, the story is near incomprehensible, and largely a dialogue free endeavor. This is just a big ol' Jess Franco hot mess... but at least it's a hot mess with Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man, so it's still pretty cool. As silly and slapdash as it is I do think that this still has enough euro-cult atmosphere and monster-kid weirdness to to appease any of the ardent Franco-philes, but perhaps not much of anyone else, but we don't care about what the normies think, do we? Nah. 

Limited Edition Slipcover 

Audio/Video: Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972) arrives on region-free region-free Blu-ray from Severin Films in 1080p HD widescreen (2.35:1) sourced from 4K scans of French, German and Spanish release prints, making this the longest and most complete version of the film ever-seen, which is awesome. There's plenty of grindhouse style damage on display by way of nicks, scratches and vertical lines, but it maintains a filmic appearance with good texturing and coloring throughout. There's some softness and fading throughout, and black levels are never more than adequate, but you can tell Severin did some commendable restoration work to make it look as good as it does. Audio comes by way of uncompressed English DTS-HD MA 2.0 dual-mono as well as lossy French, Italian, Spanish, and German with optional English subtitles. The track sounds fine, not the most robust track, but what Franco films ever were? Dialogue is always intelligible and the recycled score by Franco regulars Bruno Nicolai and Daniel White fares well in the mix. 

Extras include the 42-min Prisoner Of Franco-Stein – Interview With Stephen Thrower, Author Of Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema Of Jesús Franco; the 18-min In The Land Of Franco Part 10; 2-min Spanish Opening Credit Sequence; 1-min Deleted Scene From English Language Version; and the 3-min Trailer. I adore these ongoing Thrower contributions whenever we get a new Franco release, it's disappointing to me when we do not get one. He talks quite candidly about this particular Franco feature, getting into it's peculiarities when it comes to performances, effects, anachronistic oddities, and how jarring some of the edits are, plus I love his ongoing Franco-centric travelogues in sun-drenched Mediterranean locations. 

The single-disc release arrives in a black keepcase with a single sided sleeve of artwork, plus a cool spot-gloss, embossed Limited Edition Slipcover with it's own unique artwork on the front and back. 

Special Features:
- Prisoner Of Franco-Stein – Interview With Stephen Thrower, Author Of Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema Of Jesús Franco (42:12) 
- In The Land Of Franco Part 10 (18:26) 
- Spanish Opening Credit Sequence (2:10) 
- Deleted Scene From English Language Version  (1:12) 
- Trailer (3:20) 

Screenshots from the Severin Films Blu-ray: