When Dracula Met Frankenstein: My Years Making Drive-In Movies with Al Adamson
Published by Murania Press, 2021. 377 pages
By Sam Sherman
You can’t be a fan of exploitation cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s and not know of Sam Sherman, either by name or the multitude of film titles that he had his fingers in. Sherman only has 28 credits as a producer, many of them for films directed by his good friend Al Adamson, but his mark on the film world is so much greater. He was an ad man who could come up with some of the best titles, promotional ideas, gimmicks, and all the other ballyhoo so memorable, sometimes more than the films themselves!
He is also the man that was responsible for introducing Paul Naschy to the states, when his company, Independent International, picked up Naschy’s Mark of the Wolfman when they were looking for a Frankenstein picture that they had already promised distributors. It featured two wolfmen and two vampires, but definitely no Frankenstein or his creature. But somehow, due to the creative genius of Sherman, Mark of the Wolfman now became Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror. If you don’t know the whole story already, then you’ll have to buy the book to find out!
When I started to read this book, I was slightly disappointed because there were parts where things are mentioned that you know there was a bigger story there. I guess if we got to hear all of these stories, this would be a 5-volume set of books! Then again, I would have easily bought them all! If I had one complaint, that would be it. Sherman was involved in so many different films and productions, meeting and working with so many people in the industry, that it is a shame that we didn’t get to hear more of them. For example, the work he did with Hemisphere Pictures, especially with the Blood Island films and the promotional gimmicks he came up for that, including the “Oath of Green Blood!” There is also all the work he did with James Warren that is just touched upon that made me want to hear more.
All that aside, what we do have here in these 377 pages is a lot of fun. There are plenty of great stories within, some that will make you laugh, while others amazed that they actually happened. Sherman gives us a great insight into the world of low budget filmmaking, showing a glimpse of what goes on behind all the great poster art and trailers. The first half of the book is Sherman’s story of getting into the business and his different dealings, with movie studios, different distributors, and casts and crews. The second half of the book, he goes through 23 films that he worked on, giving more details into each production, from Angel’s Wild Women to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, hitting a wide variety of both horror and exploitation titles. You’ll learn the details on how titles like Dracula vs Frankenstein or Blood of Ghastly Horror went through several versions before becoming the “classics” they are!
If you are a fan of horror and exploitation films of the ‘60s and ‘70s, then Sherman’s book is a must read, just as a historical reference. That era of filmmaking is long gone but those stories need to be kept alive and remembered, for all the hard-working people that strove to put something up on the screen the audiences had never seen before. Sam Sherman is definitely one of them. They didn’t always hit a homerun, but you have to applaud and appreciate their efforts.