How to Make A Monster and(Lion's Gate Home Entertainment, 1.10.2006)
Blood of Dracula
American International Pictures struck gold when they decided to make films for the people that were really going to the movies: young kids. While the major studios created horror films for adults, AIP brought out I Was A Teenage Werewolf, which connected with high schoolers who were also growing hair in strange places. And they followed it up with the equally successful I Was A Teenage Frankenstein.
How to Make A Monster brought together AIP's teenage monsters, but not in the classic monster mash storyline. We're given a behind the scenes movie about how AIP has decided to stop making horror movies and focus on musicals starring John Ashley (of Beach Party fame). A veteran makeup artist is told that when the Clash of the Teenage Monsters flick wraps, he's fired. But he's not going out quietly. He wants them to understand that monster films shouldn't be stopped. When his pleas fall on deaf ears, he puts a little extra in the foundation and turning the actors into real homicidal monsters that kill the AIP suits.
The film seems to be makeup genius Jack Pierce's fantasy of what he wanted do to the Universal brass when he was fired after creating the horrifying faces of all their famous monsters. The end of How to Make switches to color, which is a treat since we get to see the various masks of past AIP horror creatures that are displayed at the makeup man's house.
Blood of Dracula should not be confused with Hammer's decadent Drink the Blood of Dracula starring Christopher Lee. There's no Count in this AIP flick. The title should have been I Was A Teenage Vampire. But they probably didn't want to press their luck. Instead of a creepy castle, we're given a girls boarding school that's having a little problem. The film plays out like a normal tortured teen drama, except we know that one girl's problem is sucking blood out of her classmates.
The makeup job on the gal with the fangs makes her look like the horror hostess for a UHF station. My favorite moment is when Jerry Blaine belts out his soundtrack hit "Puppy Love" for the desperate schoolgirls. Why wasn't he a Your Hit Parade star? Also, get an eyeful of the charred book at the end. It kinda resembles...I won't give it away.
Herbet L. Strock directed both of these films and he did a great job putting the creepy action in a safe and wholesome Leave It to Beaver environment. It's a shame that Strock passed away last November so he couldn't see this DVD hit the shelves across the nation and find a new teenage audience.
What makes AIP's teenage monster flicks stand apart from major studio fare is that the people most responsible for these kids becoming hideous creatures are adults. There's no Ward Cleaver lecturing the kids about what they should have done. Instead, it's a crazed adult confessing his crimes at the end. The theme of these films was "quit messing with the kids." It's easy to see why they were so popular in the drive-ins across America.
There are no bonus features on this DVD. The good part is that it isn't a flipper because both films are barely an hour long. In any case, you'll be thrilled watching these clean cut kids deal with their strange impulses. -- Joe Corey