A work colleague recently attempted to convince me into trying a new recipe he had tested. It involved red peppers stuffed with couscous, a layer of rice, sliced fried red onions and tomatoes all baked for 20 minutes. So far, so good, until the bombshell... Finally, drizzle chocolate sauce over it and bake for a further 5 minutes!! WHAT??? He is convinced the sweetness of the choccy brings out the flavour in the something or other but I just felt it was a rather too weird amalgamation of tastes to dance on my pallet. But this concoction seemed positively bland when pitted against legendary director William �one-shot� Baudine�s later efforts. The rather pejorative nickname, �one shot�, alludes to Baudine�s disciplined commitment to deliver his plethora of feature films on time and within budget. It meant that nearly every scene only had a solitary opportunity to �get it in the can�! In truth, this was probably Hollywood folklore given the alternate footage used in trailers etc.

The majority of his career centred on William being personal friends with a certain Walt Disney. It was an affiliation that led to a prolific film career within Hollywood. It is, however, the twilight of Baudine�s career that concerns us here, with a duel DVD set from Cheezy Flicks, mimicking the 1966 double bill of the absurdly titled Billy the Kid vs Dracula, and Jesse James meets Frankenstein�s Daughter!!!

The former picture stars John Carradine as the vampire. The word �Dracula� is notably omitted from the dialogue, though considering the movie�s title and the crimson lined black cape that Carradine sports throughout, its forgivable to refer to his character as an abomination of Bram Stokers antihero!

The plot, meanwhile, incredulously blows tumbleweed from the Wild West into the deepest Carpathian forests with some fantastically strange results. Billy the Kid has turned over a new leaf. He has even gone back to his real name of Billy Bonney. What�s more, Bonney is deeply in love with his 18 year old fianc�, Elizabeth. There is just the simple matter of informing her mother, Mary Bently and her uncle, James Underhill, of their plans to get hitched. Billy assures his young love that as soon as the horse driven coach arrives with her family, he will respectfully ask for her hand in marriage.

But her mother and uncle�s journey is far from a standard jaunt. They are joined by a sinister character that, after some pleasantries, is shown a small photo of Mary�s daughter, Elizabeth. The ominous vampire then hatches a heinous plan! Firstly, he takes on his bat persona and flees before murdering a young peasant girl with his fangs. He then pops out for an Indian - Red Indian in fact, and the second young victim sparks his plan into life. Through a frenzied attack, complete with high pitched squawking, Mary and James on the coach are killed by the vengeful Red Indians. (It probably would have been simpler for Drac to simply kill the travellers himself but that would have shaved off a few priceless minutes from the already paltry 73 minute run time!)

So, Dracula arrives at the ranch under guise of James Underhill who, with a stroke of luck, has never been seen by any of the locals. This, of course, includes his niece Elizabeth who awaits a potentially hideous fate. Will the vampire�s macabre plan to turn Elizabeth into his undead countess, to live with him for eternity, come to fruition...? Or will Billy become the gun slinging Kid one last time in order to �get the girl� and live happily ever after...?

As you would expect from such a bizarre B-Movie, there are a few unintentional laughable moments in Baudines camped up slice of cheese. The wire that suspends vampire bat hangs on is luckily masked by the rather blurry, VHS quality print. But it all adds to the fun.

John Carradine is a delightfully diabolical vampire whose wild eyed stares nearly cause his eyebrows to lift right off his forehead during his victim�s hypnosis! It�s these scenes, richly coloured in yellow and red lighting and accompanied by a dreamy harp, that provide genuine highlights which won�t be forgotten easily!

I alluded to the mix of opposite genres earlier on and this is taken to the extreme in the climatic scenes. The galloping hooves frantically thudding against the arid outback with the sun blazing alternated with the gentle flicker of a candles flame within the confines Dracula�s dark atmospheric cave, makes for an inimitably surreal contrast that stays loyal to the film�s title if nothing else.

The second half of the bill is Jesse James Meets Frankenstein�s Daughter. John Lupton plays Jesse James, who is down on his luck. As such he resorts to pimping out his balder bigger mate, Hank, into some good ole fashioned bare knuckle punch-ups! It�s not long though before the duo team up with the original Wild Bunch in order to pull off a stage coach robbery. But there is a snake in the camp. Lonnie double crosses the new recruits by offering Jesse James capture to Marshal Macfee.

Meanwhile, a strange brother and sister scientist team of Maria and Rudolf have taken residence in a house in the Mexican valley. They need the electrical storms that the terrain provides for their experiments. You see, Maria is the granddaughter of a certain Dr Frankenstein and she is on the lookout for the body of a �Beeg Shtrlong maahn.."in which to implant the last remaining artificial brain that her granddaddy constructed. 38 minutes in and, as luck would have it, a big strong man arrives at her doorstep, albeit in need of medical attention and being shepherded by Jesse. It�s not long before she uses the power of neon tubes and rainbow coloured helmet in the lab to create her monster. But when Jesses gets wind of Hank being reborn as the innovatively named Igor (!!) what will be the outcome?

The later of the double bill has a longer run time which doesn�t do it any favours, to be honest. Too much time is spent dwelling on the love interest of Jesse and is Latin love interest Juanita to make it completely absorbing. But there is still a fair share of entertain ingredients to marvel at! There are fist fights aplenty and I loved the exaggerated wickedness of Maria, played by the Estonian born Narda Onyx. Her slow drawl and evil ambitions could easily been an inspiration for the ILSA films!

Although, again, the print is blurry and has a slight hiss on the soundtrack, it is more than compensated for by some ludicrous humour! For example; The final frames showing Igor / Hank�s tombstone with the fitting epitaph "HANK � HE WAS JESSE JAMES� FRIEND" was sublime!

Obviously it�s the scarceness of these movies that could entice punter to part with their cash more than the actual quality of the pictures themselves. And if the bizarre double bill is not enough, Cheezy Flicks should also be applauded for including some great skits and adverts that really give the viewer a vintage cinema experience.

For starters on the Dracula disc, we have none other than Julie Andrews, showcasing the new Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) seal. The oblong yellow symbol on a navy background has undoubtedly been subliminally witnessed by anyone reading this review, but seeing its official unveiling here was fantastic. It is only topped by Mary Poppins ironically then presenting the �Suggested for Mature Audiences� warning! Rare and beautiful!

On the Frankenstein disc there is an actual INTERMISSIONS chapter which as you would expect shows some antique advertising. My favourite has to be the most long winded way of trying to seduce the audience into purchasing a Pepsi from the concessions stand with a classic �Mother-in-Law Joke� lumped in for good measure!!! They don�t make �em like that anymore I can tell ya!

This obscure presentation offers excellent value for money, especially if, like me, you are a Dracula and Frankenstein movie complete-ist!

Vintage cheese like this could indeed call for a measure of port or a serving of Nachos... I�ll still pass on the chocolate sauce though...!

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Released by Cheezy Flicks
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review