• Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: August 20th, 2019.
    Director: William Beaudine
    Cast: John Carradine, Chuck Courtney, Melinda Casey, Olive Carey, Virginia Christine, Walter Janovitz
    Year: 1966
    Purchase From Amazon

    Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula – Movie Review:

    Directed by the late, great (and insanely prolific) William Beaudine in 1966, Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula shows us the all too real terrors of what could happen should Dracula have made it to the wild west! Well, it isn’t really that scary, but it’s pretty fun.

    See, Dracula (John Carradine) has assumed the identity of a man named Mr. Underhill who, along with his sister, was killed when their stagecoach was attacked by some pesky native Indians. From here, he meets Betty Bentley (Melinda Casey, credited as Melinda Plowman), a lovely young woman who just so happens to be engaged to marry one Billy The Kid (Chuck Courtney), who now leads a respectable life as a rancher, having put his outlaw ways behind him.

    Dracula also manages to convince Betty that he’s her long-lost uncle, and she falls for it. Soon enough, Dracula is ‘protecting’ her from anyone he figures she needs protection from, but in reality, he’s putting into motion a plan to make Betty his vampire bride. Most of this seems pretty lost on Betty, she seems oblivious to the fact that her uncle is basically creeping on her. Dracula’s got one problem, however, and that’s the existence of a European couple named Eva (Virginia Christine) and Franz Oster (Walter Janovitz). Their daughter was recently killed, fang marks found on her neck, and they’re convinced that Mr. Underhill is actually a vampire! Meanwhile, the town’s only doctor (Olive Carey), a nurse who admits she has no training but knows how to remove bullets, helps Billy figure out what’s going on, while Dracula whisks poor Betty off to an abandoned mine.

    Enjoyable nonsense from start to finish, Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula is nothing if not a fantastic showcase for Carradine’s ability to ham it up. The man grunts and grimaces with the best of them, offering up plenty of crazy facial expressions and intense stares right into the camera all while spouting off some delightfully arrogant dialogue. He’s never convincing even for a second and he never once comes close to frightening, but he is super entertaining to watch in this picture. He’s definitely the standout in the cast, although Olive Carey is a lot of fun as the hard-drinking, world weary doctor. Virginia Christine and Walter Janovitz are pretty amusing as the Eastern European immigrants although their characters are poorly written stereotypes. Chuck Courtney has the moves to play Billy The Kid, his experience as a stuntman clearly showing in a few scenes, but he’s pretty wooden here and not all that charismatic, while Melinda Casey just kind of there.

    The production values are, as you’d likely guess, pretty cheap. The ‘bat’ effects are clearly just a prop on a string and the film was shot on existing sets. There are stock footage inserts in here and there isn’t much in the way of monster action here. Still, if you’re in the right mood for it, it’s a fun watch.

    Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula – Blu-ray Review:

    Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, the film’s original aspect ratio, and it looks far better than most will likely expect it to. There’s some minor print damage here and there, small specks and blemishes, but the image is stable and surprisingly colorful. Skin tones look good, black levels are nice and strong and detail is generally quite strong – sometimes even impressive! If you’re familiar with how dire this one looked on VHS and even on DVD, this transfer is a bit of a revelation. It also looks quite filmic throughout, showing the expected amount of natural film grain but no noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD Mono track in the film’s native English. Levels are properly balanced and dialogue stays clear from start to finish. There aren’t any problems with any noticeable hiss or distortion and while range is understandably limited, overall this one sounds just fine. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary by film historians Lee Gambin and John Harrison that covers quite a bit of ground. There’s a lot of talk here about Carradine’s career in horror pictures – and he definitely did make a lot of them – as well as other Dracula/vampire parts he played over the years. They cover the sets and locations and offer their thoughts on what works and what doesn’t in the film but also cover Beaudine’s career and provide some info about the other cast and crew members that were involved in the production.

    Aside from that, we get trailers for The Astro-Zombie, Black Sabbath, The Premature Burial, The Black Sleep and The House Of The Long Shadows. Menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula – The Final Word:

    Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula is, in a word, goofy! But it’s pretty fun and any time John Carradine is skulking about on screen you can’t help but have a good time with it. Kino’s Blu-ray looks and sounds pretty solid, presenting the film in nice shape and with an interesting commentary track as its primary supplement.

    Click on the images below for full sized Billy The Kid Vs. Dracula Blu-ray screen caps!