Cult Classics: How to Make a Monster / Blood of Dracula (DVD)

How to Make a Monster: Starring Robert H. Harris, Paul Brinegar, Gary Conway, and Gary Clarke

Blood of Dracula: Starring Sandra Harrison, Louise Lewis, Gail Ganley, Jerry Blaine, and Heather Ames

Both films directed by Herbert L. Strock

Released by Lionsgate

The Fifties were a crazy time, man! *snaps fingers* They were filled with sock hops, way out cats, poodle skirts, abuse of hair grease, and of course drive-in theatres that were brimming with new monster films each week. A pioneer of this period of movie monster bliss was Samuel Z. Arkoff. He was churning these things out faster than a souped up ’57 Chevy could blaze down the dragstrip! Finally after years and years these films are trickling out onto the DVD format, and it’s about time. I’m sick of my old VHS quality dupes. And who has given us this gift back? Who else?! Horror’s best friend, Lionsgate! Grab your popcorn and turn the lights down low! The double feature is about to begin, and it’s a real gas!

The first feature on this disc is 1958’s How to Make a Monster.

Dig that crazy make-up, man! Speaking of crazy make-up men, that’s what the true monster of this little flick is. After some new people buy American International Studios, they decide that it’s time to do away with the monster movie and concentrate on making musicals geared to teens. So where does this leave the studio’s resident monster maker? Ass out of a job, that’s where. Needless to say, he’s none too happy with the new studio owners and decides to take matters into his own hands. He alters his make-up base with a secret ingredient that allows him to control the actors who are wearing his monster make-up and sics them on the new studio execs! That’ll learn ’em! Getting rid of monster movies for musicals! Why, I oughtta! *shakes fist in stern manner*

How to Make a Monster is unique as it is one of the first supposedly rooted in our reality type films. The monsters are acknowledged as fake, but the deeds the actors are engaging in while under mind control are deadly. Sound dumb? Sure! Is it a fun little film? You betcha! The Fifties were a simple time filled with pretty cool looking monsters. The I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werewolf make-ups brought back for this film are a true monster fan treat! It’s good to see them back in action in any capacity!

Next up is 1957’s Blood of Dracula.

To be honest, I have no clue what the hell this movie has to do with its title. At no time is Dracula’s blood mentioned, nor does it have anything to do with any of his relatives. What we have here is the sad story of a bratty teen whose family drops her off at a boarding school for other female bratty teens. Being a newbie any where can be a pain in the ass, and before you know it, she is met with a sort of hazing by the other girls. Things continue to get bad for our protagonist until she comes under the wing of the school science teacher. This is no ordinary teacher though! This is a psycho in possession of a pendant that can help her control the minds of anyone that she wishes. Ah, mind control! Such a staple of films back then! Once our bratty newbie falls under the spell of the professor, she sprouts extra facial hair and fangs and becomes a murderous vampire!

Don’t ask me. I have no idea what the hell was going on either. Storyline didn’t matter much in these films. All that mattered was the inclusion of a random dance number and having a beastie to stare at! All is right in the world. While Blood of Dracula is the weaker film on the disc, it definitely is good for a few laughs. Especially the vampire that ends up looking like the bastard child of Don King and Redd Foxx!

There are no DVD extras to speak of so there’s no need to discuss their inclusion. A trailer would have been nice, but hey, at least these films are finally available!

What we have here is a nostalgic romp through the monster land of yesteryear. True, these films have lost a significant amount of their impact over the years, but there is a certain charm to them. They serve as a reminder that horror is a genre with longevity. Who knows? In a few decades maybe people will be looking at the films of today like senseless campy classics.

3 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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