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Dracula (1974) – Episode 61 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“You are now in my domain gentlemen, and you shall not leave.” Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issue of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions, but Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr are back, along with guest-host Joey Fittos, to take that familiar journey from Transylvania to England, this time as told by producer/director Dan Curtis in 1974’s Dracula.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 61 – Dracula (1974)

Originally released as Bram Stoker’s Dracula until the rights to that name were acquired for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, the film is now sometimes referred to as Dan Curtis’ Dracula. This TV movie was scheduled to premiere in October 1973 but was preempted by news coverage of an unfolding historical event and rescheduled for February 1974.

This episode’s Grue Crew discuss Emmy winner Curtis’ start as the creator and executive producer of the daytime, horror/soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-71). He then went on to direct and produce a number of horror-related movies in the 1970s: The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), several TV-movie adaptations of well-known horror novels, and the theatrically released Burnt Offerings (1976).

Though your hosts find the script lacking in places, they do give props to frequent Curtis collaborator and horror icon Richard Matheson, who penned the screenplay for this version of Dracula. Despite this script’s faults, Curtis and Matheson do use a plot device lifted from Dark Shadows that doesn’t appear in Bram Stoker’s novel or any previous film versions but is used again by Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Academy award winner Jack Palance tackles the title role. Curtis and he had worked together before on another TV movie, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Chad, Bill, and especially Jeff, appreciate the feral quality of Palance’s performance, but Joey says, “He’s not my Dracula.” The rest of the cast – Nigel Davenport (Van Helsing), Murray Brown (Jonathan Harker), Fiona Lewis (Lucy), Penelope Horner (Mina), and Simon Ward (Arthur) – don’t have much to work with, possibly leading to their seemingly lackluster performances. The crew also point out that many of our listeners may recognize Sarah Douglas, one of Dracula’s brides, who later played Ursa in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980).

When all’s said and done, Mr. Fittos gives Dracula (1974) thumbs down. Though Chad and Jeff admit it doesn’t hold up to impressions from their first viewings, the other hosts think it is worth the watch for Palance’s performance.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Episode 10 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You’re freaks! I’m a man! The last man…” Thus screams Dr. Robert Morgan at the vampires of the post-pandemic world depicted in The Last Man on Earth (1964). Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – for our somewhat historic 10th episode as we suit up alongside Morgan to do battle against the vampiric horde. Unfortunately, Erin Miskell, the glue that holds The Classic Era’s Grue Crew together, is on special assignment investigating Dr. Caligari’s cabinet … from the inside, and was not able to join us in this battle.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

Episode 10 – The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Based on Richard Matheson’s classic, dark, science fiction novel, I Am Legend (1954), The Last Man on Earth is a joint Italian-U.S. production, filmed in Italy and distributed by American International Pictures. Directed by Sidney Salkow on a shoestring budget, The Last Man on Earth follows Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) as he goes about his daily life as the titular character. By day, his time is spent scrounging for supplies and searching out, killing, and burning the infected vampires. By night, he fends off the still shambling remnants of the population or listens to jazz records backed with the weak cries from his infected, former colleague to “Come out Morgan … come out Morgan.”

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Did the filmmakers construct a believable post-pandemic world? Since the story takes place in Los Angeles, how did they manage to create a piece of California in Italy? How does Price’s performance as Morgan in this low budget, Italian collaboration compare to his other roles? Exactly who the the heck is co-writer Logan Swanson? What did Richard Matheson think of The Last Man on Earth? How closely does this adaptation follow the plot of Matheson’s novel? How does The Last Man on Earth rank compared withThe Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2007), the other adaptations of Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend? What happened to the script Matheson wrote for Hammer Films in the late 1950s? Why does The Last Man on Earth (1964) remind us so much of George Romero’s Night of the LIving Dead (1968)?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these memorable comments:

  • “I never turn down a stake.”
  • “It’s not the garlic keeping them away; it’s the dirty underwear.”
  • “We’re coming to get you Morgan.”
  • “Everybody knows Vincent Price has Tyrannosaurus Rex hands.”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes Village of the Damned (1960), Viy (1967), and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the movies we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!