Monday, February 3, 2014

Monster Team-Up Reflection #2: Story of Drac, Wolf and Frank LP

Lots of folks around my age surely recall those wondrous Power Records selections back in the '70s. Power Records offered a large range of fantastic, pop-cultural adaptations of favorite stories and characters, ranging from "Planet of the Apes" to "Six Million Dollar Man". As a youngster, I frequently re-played such engaging recordings as the introspective Captain America/Falcon romp, "A Phoenix Shall Arise" and the powerfully poignant Man-Thing classic, "Night of the Laughing Dead". 

These recordings were done in the old-time-radio vein, with a number of actors offering the voices, accompanied by comic-books that one could read-along to as the discs played. (Little beeps would signal one to turn the page, in case one's mind wandered, which was unlikely to happen, considering how enthralling these stories were in both their audio and visual aspects.)

Power Records also offered an astonishingly good monster team-up LP in '75, verbosely entitled, "A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein", which I recently revisited, still being on my evident monster team-up kick. The title (as it appears on the front-cover artwork) is, in fact, a tad inaccurate, due to one of the plot twists, but nonetheless, this is a monster-icon merging irrevocably worthy of consumption, combining elements of Universal and Hammer lore, with the tone of such '70s entries as Dan Curtis' classic monster adaptations and even the epic, "Frankenstein: the True Story."

The rollicking yarn kicks off with Frankenstein's nephew/assistant, Vincent, on the run with his curvaceous finance, Ericka, only to found by a mysterious, but seemingly helpful stranger, who on the recording has a distinct Lugosi-like accent and a stark resemblance to Bram Stoker's literary, legendary blood-sucker. (Gosh, wonder who he might be...)

The man invites the couple to his castle, but then reveals he motive: he has already recreated the Frankenstein laboratory, but is struggling to emulate the notorious experiment successfully. With Vincent in his grasp, he can accomplish this. As such, he keeps Ericka captive, while Vincent is forced to construct a new monster, who upon awakening, finds poor Ericka and tosses her out a window.

Though initially assumed dead, Ericka is found unconscious by a couple of dim-witted men and their grandmother: an old gypsy woman named Maleva, who though named after Maria Ouspenskaya's "Wolf Man" character, is nowhere near as kind or gentle. She soon plunges Ericka into a Cinderella-like hell, with no apparent hope of escape...

Eventually, the surprise lycanthrope rears its furry head (and yet another emerges on top of that). Drac and the Monster ultimately engage in an intense fight, until all is seemingly settled, with Vincent and Ericka happily reunited.

Neal Adams (who fashioned some of the very best Batman images of the '70s) illustrated this one. Peter ("Speed Racer"/"Ultraman") Fernandez can be heard on the recording, as well as on other Power Records adventures. 

I must say, as a kid, this one sure played like a movie in my mind, and even insinuates a sequel in its final panels, which alas never materialized. (Gosh, it really would have been cool if another had been done, perhaps having incorporated Jekyll/Hyde, maybe even the Invisible Man and/or the Mummy!)

You can actually tap into the recording and images via YouTube. There are also some tribute/mini-review samplings available throughout the web.

Anyway, give "Story of Drac, Wolf and Frank" a whirl when you can. It'll give you a swell taste of '70s pop-culture, as well as ample, fun-filled time with variations on some your very favorite, famous monsters!

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