Remember that I mention stuntman Chuck Courtney in The Green Berets (1968), well here’s why. Today’s film is one of those film titles that just make you say wow. Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966). Unfortunately this episode may be a little short due to the limited star power in this film. Other than John Carradine, who I could talk about for days, Mrs. Folgers, and a few cameos there is not much to say.
John Carradine played the role of Count Dracula / posing as James Underhill. Carradine was the partiarch of the Carradine clan – you know David from Kung Fu and the Kill Bill films and Robert from The Big Red One (1980) and the Nerd films, and Keith from Southern Comfort (1981) and Cowboys & Aliens (2011).
John was born in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in 1906. For a time he worked as painter and sketch artist. He eventually ended up in New Orleans in 1925. Remember Lugosi showed up there in late 1920. I believe this is where you go to learn to be a vampire and I think I turned into on one Maudlin Monday night myself.
When Carradine moved to Hollywood he made a habit of walking on Hollywood Blvd while reciting lines from Shakespeare and was nicknamed “the Bard of the Boulevard.”
Some of Carradine’s early roles are The Invisible Man (1933), The Black Cat (1934), Stagecoach (1939), and The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Carradine was in Voodoo Man (1944) with Bela Lugosi and The Face of Marble (1946). These last two had the same director as this film.
Late in life, Carradine played melancholy werewolf Erle Kenton in The Howling (1981). The character name was a nod to John’s House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945) director Erle C. Kenton.
Chuck Courtney was cast in the role of William ‘Billy the Kid’ Bonney and boy was he flat. Courtney was best known for 14 TV appearances as the Lone Ranger (1950-55 masked nephew Dan Reid. Showcased his ability to ride when led to other western roles such as Born to the Saddle 1953. He was cast in a series of roles aimed at the teenagers such as Teenage Thunder (1957), Teenage Monster (1958), and of course today’s film.
During this time he was making more money as a stuntman and began to move that way. Both his 2 sons and his 2 stepson became stuntmen as well. He worked on a few other movies including 3 with John Wayne the worst of which was the Green Beret 1968 as a stuntman.
Bill Libby “Dying…It’s a Living. Argosy 1967.
In addition to his work as a stuntman and second unit director on films ranging from “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960) to Clint Eastwood’s “The Rookie” (1990), Courtney appeared in many westerns, including three starring John Wayne: El Dorado, Rio Lobo, and The Cowboys (1972).
Melinda Plowman played the role of Elizabeth (Betty) Bentley. Melinda Plowman was born in 1941 in Texas. She is an actress, known for Home Town Story (1951), Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966) and Carrie (1952). Not the one with the bucket of blood.
Virginia Christine played the role of Eva Oster the peaceful immigrant who is the only on that see what is going on. While she had a long and varied movie and television career she is best known as the Folger’s coffee lady. Ask your parents.
Bing Russell played Dan ‘Red’ Thorpe the ranch hand that was always fighting with Billy. Bing also had a long tv and movie career. However what makes him standout is he is the father of Kurt Russell, remember my man crush.
Marjorie Bennett played Mary Ann Bentley the mother of Betty. Bennett was born in Australia in 1896. She had over 200 movie and tv credits and would be recognizable to many. She was in Mary Poppins (1964), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and 101 Dalmatians (1961) as the voice of Duchess.
Olive Carey played the role of Dr. Henrietta Hull. She was the widow of Harry Carey Sr. and mother of Jr. This was her last film role and she was one of the shining lights in this flick.
Harry Carey Jr. has a small cameo as Ben Dooley the wagon master.
Charlita played Nana the Indian Maiden that was killed by Dracula. The only reason I even mention her is she had that one name thing going. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why.
Ok. Before I get going on this film I have to say that they didn’t have any kind of light filter so the only way you could tell it was nighttime was because Dracula was up or a bat was flying around. Other than that day looked just like night.
The opening scene begins with a night German couple bedding down in their blanket rolls on the Great Plains next to a wagon. At first, I wondered why they were going to sleep in the day time. Then I saw the worst mechanical bat I have ever seen is bobbing around in the sky.
So the mother Eva Oster (Virginia Christine) is worried that something is going to get their grown daughter Lisa Oster (Hannie Landman) who they have sleeping about 12 feet away. The father Franz Oster (Walter Janovitz) tells her not to worry. They could have had her move closer. Right on cue the bat drops behind the wagon and poof the vampire (John Carradine) walks from behind the wagon. They light his face red before he kills and it’s a great effect on Carradine’s narrow face. He drains the girl, turns into a bat and flies away.
The scene changes to a stagecoach with four riders. Mary Ann Bentley (Marjorie Bennett), her brother James Underhill (William Forrest), a whiskey salesman, and the vampire they have just picked up. They are all spooked by the strange man they picked up in the night. The driver of the stage even tells the shotgun rider that he better find another job if he is so nervous. You do realize that when you yell shotgun to get the front seat it is a reference to the guy that use to protect the stagecoach.
In the stagecoach, Mary starts spilling the beans about the ranch, her brother James coming to help her manage the farm and help raise what, in her opinion, is a smoking hot niece. She shows the picture to Dracula and he goes crazy. He starts getting all big eyed and begins rambling about how lovely she is. Really this is the creepiest part of the movie.
It’s getting close to sunup so the vampire heads away but not before he spies a beautiful Indian maiden – Nana (Charlita). Dracula kills Nana and when she is found in the morning the tribe goes crazy and heads after the stage now carrying only three people. All the people on the stage are killed by the Indians. Drak goes to the stage and grabs the picture and his fake uncle id.
We are then introduced to the foreman of the ranch is a Mr. William Bonney (Chuck Courtney) that has reformed from being Billy the Kid. Billy is also engaged to the lovely niece Elizabeth (Betty) Bentley (Melinda Plowman). Which, after all is the best way for a foreman to move up.
A couple of ranch hands ride by, one of which is Red (Big Russell) the real life father of actor Kurt Russell. They are bad mouthing Billy for taking Red’s job and his girl. Billy and Betty head into town to meet the stage. Drak flies in on the bat express and lays out his story and assumes the role of James Underhill aka fake uncle. Red and the other hand are in the salon drinking when Billy arrives.
So fake uncle is cold and aloof when he finds out that his quote sister unquote has been killed.
The nice German couple shows up at the hotel/salon and start telling the vampire tales. It all falls on deaf ears. Billy and Red have a little tiff at the bar. Harry Carey Jr. Has a cameo as the wagon master.
So fake uncle/Drack gives his room to the nice German couple. The mother and the daughter share the bed while the father guards the door outside. Right on cue, the squeaky bat shows up at the window. Since it is his room he goes right in and kills Lisa.
Fake Uncle takes the bat express to the ranch. Billy is consoling Betty when fake uncle swoops into the ranch. Fake Uncle starts glamming her while her fiancé Billy is watching.
Much to the chagrin of fake uncle they also hire the nice German couple to help out around the ranch. Eva says the vamp is fake uncle. Billy gets a little freaked out a little and gallops out to check on Betty. When Billy crashes in drak discredits him in Betty’s eyes. Dracula drops the line saying he’s so tired he may sleep all day. Great line.
The nice Germans arrive at the ranch. Eva brings wolf bane into Betty’s room and puts it all around the window. Okay so if she brought all this wolf bane from the old country why didn’t she use it to protect her daughter. She also explains how vampires create mates which seems to be Betty’s fate.
Right on cue shows up at the window can’t get past wolfbane here’s squeaking really bad noise. Maybe it’s because the bat is mechanical.
The ranch hands report that a wolf killed a lamb and ole Indian Jim says he saw a bat fly away. Red and Billy have another fight and this time Billy get the hound beat outta him.
German lady goes into vampires room finds that the bed is on slept in and that the mirror is turned to face the wall. She double checks the wolfbane and hangs her personal cross over Betty’s bed. This is all too much for Betty and she makes Eva take down the wolfs bane.
Billy has a Hugh bruise on his ribs and goes to see what may be the worst doctor ever Heneritta Hall (Olive Carey). She checks the wounds and says no broken bones as she slaps the hell out of his side. She pulls a book off the main shelf and reads all of the lore on how a vampire kills or makes a mate. She also explains that vamps don’t cast reflections.
Fake Uncle wants Betty to show him the silver mine. Now we need to deal with this issue. Wouldn’t a silver mine be a terrible place for a vampire? This scene is shot in broad daylight with birds chirping. He tries to glam Betty her but she is strong.
Billy finds another dead lamb while drak checks out his new digs. Billy finds Betty at the mine and they have an argument. They plan the mirror trick but uncle drak overhears.
Billy tells the story to the sheriff but Red overhears and rats him out to fake uncle.
Eva names the mirror trick as the Vampire test. Fake Uncle fires Billy and reveals him as being the notorious Billy the kid. Drac sends Germans bunkhouse and Red escorts Billy off the property.
Billy’s drinking it up in the salon when Red shows up. The two have a fistfight and then a gun fight which of course Billy wins. Duh. He’s billy the kid.
Billy goes to doc Henrettia for advice. At the same time, Drac glans Betty in another creepy uncle scene tells her the plan to make her his bride and bites her neck. Betty is all in. Drac dashes to the cave to prepare the love nest – complete with torches and a red velvet spread on the bed.
Eva sees the double bites on Betty’s neck. About that time Billy shows up. They take Eva to the doc. Her diagnosis – I don’t like it, I don’t like it a bit. The doc says if you didn’t know better it’s the work of a vampire. About this time the sheriff arrests Billy for killing Red.
Drac gets a little twisted because Betty is not at the ranch. He goes to sheriffs and finds out that Betty is at the doctors. Drak as where he can find this backwoods female pill slinger. Ouch.
Drak pops over to the docs office fails vampire test. They have a nice floating girl effect in the mirror because you can’t see Drak. When Drak sees the mirror he runs out like he’s in pain.
The doc brings a metal scalpel to kill the vamp but the sheriff does not believe her. The doc then breaks Billy out of jail. Billy won’t take the scalpel because he “has never seen a man that a bullet won’t kill”. The doc rightly reminds him that Drac is not a man. He leaves anyway.
Drack and Betty arrive at Cave
Billy checks house and then rides to cave
Doc and sheriff head to cave
Billy arrives at cave ahead of the sheriff. Drak is hypnotizing Betty and puts her on the velvet bed. Billy shoots Dracula to no effect. Drac grabs Billy and choked him out. The sheriff and the doc show up just as Billy awakes. Drak says your bullets cannot hurt.
Sheriff unloads on Drac. Now in what I believe is the best part of this film Billy takes the sheriffs empty gun and throws it at the vampire. The impact of the gun knocks the vampire stupid and he falls to the ground. The doc gives the scalpel to Billy and he sticks it in the vampire’s chest. For effect, he uses a big rock to hammer it in.
The worst bad ever flies out of the cave and drops dead. Dracula turns into a skeleton and Betty comes back to life.
During production, John Carradine would walk off the set during his lunch breaks to visit a local bar in full Dracula regalia.
Billy the Kid versus Dracula was shot back-to-back with Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966), also written by Carl K. Hittleman and directed by William Beaudine.
George Cisar, who played the whiskey salesman Joe Flake, was in The War of the Worlds (1953), The Werewolf (1956), The Giant Claw (1957) and Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), as well as several Elvis Presley films.
Charlita starred opposite the original Count Dracula in William Beaudine’s Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952).
“My worst film? That’s easy, a thing called Billy the Kid versus Dracula. I need the money, to be honest. Actors have to live, too, you know. It was a bad film. I don’t even remember it. I was absolutely numb.”
World Famous Movie Summary – Girl falls for an older man. Boyfriend kills him.