On this day, 30 March, in 1966, Billy the Kid vs Dracula saw its world premiere in New Haven, Connecticut. I avoided seeing this film for years because it has arguably the silliest title of any film ever made.
Okay. Maybe Octopussy is worse. Of course, I’ve never seen it. I don’t much care for Roger Moore period Bond. But that also indicates why the title doesn’t matter. It’s a bond picture. They could be numbered. Who knows what to expect from Billy the Kid vs Dracula?
Well, it isn’t hard to guess if you think like a filmmaker. After all, Dracula lives forever. So why not turn Billy the Kid into Van Helsing?
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter
The film was shot back-to-back with another bizarrely-titled film, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter. In it, Dr Frankenstein’s granddaughter has moved to the old west to continue his work. Jesse James comes to town to do a robbery that goes bad and eventually falls into the hands of Frankenstein. It was released 10 April, but the two films were often shown as a double-feature.
Both films were directed by William Beaudine. He had been directing since the silent era. In total, he directed hundreds of feature films and television shows including 80 episodes of Lassie.
I like both films, but I prefer Billy the Kid vs Dracula — probably because of John Carradine’s over-the-top performance. I also like how the start of the film is a bit of an homage to Stagecoach. And I like the happy ending.
You can find Billy the Kid vs Dracula online but the prints range from fairly bad to unwatchable. Last year, KL Studio Classics released what is probably the best version we will get on DVD and Blu-ray. They both come with a commentary track by writers Lee Gambin and John Harrison.
If you want to get Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Elite Entertainment produced a good version on DVD with a Joe Bob Briggs commentary track.
Also on 30 March
Street People was released on this day in 1976. Frantic was released in France in 1988. Basic Instinct 2 was released in 2006. Mr Bean’s Holiday was released in 2007. And StreetDance 2 was released in 2012.
Actor Richard Dysart (The Thing) was born on this date in 1929.
Actors with birthdays today: John Astin (The Addams Family) is 90, Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde) is 83, Robbie Coltrane (The Brothers Bloom) is 70, Paul Reiser (Stranger Things) is 64, Maurice LaMarche (Futurama) is 62, Mili Avital (Stargate) is 48.
Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh (Lone Star) is 68 today.