Mill Valley Film Festival 2014: A Night with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” (1971)

kirkIf you’ve attended any screenings at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival, you may already know that Metallica served as 2014’s “Artists in Residence”. Each member of the world famous heavy metal group presented a film of their choosing, with a short introduction beforehand. Needless to say, their picks definitely align with their personalities.

James Hetfield went with Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Lars Ulrich picked Sundance hit Whiplash because, y’know, it’s about a drummer. Bassist Robert Trujillo picked the unfinished doc Jaco, concerning jazz fusion master Jaco Pastorious. As for my favorite member of the band (and fellow horror enthusiast) Kirk Hammett, he picked the gloriously awful Z-grade horror movie Dracula vs. Frankenstein from exploitation director Al Adamson.


Metallica’s lead guitarist has no pretension about his passion for horror movies. He opened the late-night screening at the Rafael Film Center by taking the stage to nerd out over horror memorabilia and talk up his profound affection for Dracula vs. Frankenstein. If the moderator hadn’t moved to wrap up the introductory comments, I have no doubt that Hammett would have reenacted the entire film on stage. He eagerly described the film’s bizarre Malibu setting and awkward lead “actor” Zandor Vorkov, who has the distinction of resembling Sacha Baron Cohen and being the only screen Dracula to wear a turtleneck.

The film itself would not be out of place on an old episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. A descendant of the original Dr. Frankenstein is using a “house of horrors” attraction at the Santa Monica Pier as a front for his murder-and-resurrection side business, with ample help from a dwarf and archival footage of Lon Chaney, Jr. When Count Dracula forces the mad doctor to resurrect the original Frankenstein’s Monster for some reason, it’s up to a rag-tag group of hippies to save the day. Hammett suggested beforehand that the audience leave the theater for a snack or bathroom break during “the middle part”, and this is coming from somebody who actually likes the film. The finale, however, delivered on Hammett’s promise of being “everything you would ever want” from a movie called Dracula vs. Frankenstein.

When Filmbalaya asked Hammett what his favorite horror film was of the last five years, he had many fond words for Richard Raaphorst‘s insane Frankenstein’s Army (trailer below). He also recommends The Conjuring, The Cabin in the Woods, and Under the Skin.

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Categories: Festivals, Reviews

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