Man, was I snookered by this movie. I mean, how could this movie not be brilliantly bad with a title like Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula? Here's how: It's bad, but it's also boring. Not much really happens. This is a common complaint of mine, one I mention as a fault of just about every sub-three turkey movie I review. It's pretty much the only unforgivable sin of a bad movie. It's all about entertainment. A movie can be the worst waste of film ever created, but it's not worth watching if it isn't also entertaining. And boring isn't entertaining.
Anyway, off the soap box and back to this movie. We start out with a shot of a fake bat hanging from a wire. We see this wonderful fake-bat shot several times throughout the movie, and it never gets old. They should have shown it more -- it's good for a quick laugh every time. Of course, that's probably not the reaction the filmmakers were looking for, but hey, you go with your strengths.
We come across an immigrant couple with their young daughter sleeping on the ground. They have a covered wagon, but still they choose to sleep in the open. The fake bat swoops behind the wagon, and out walks Dracula. He's never actually called "Dracula" in this movie. He's basically just a generic vampire who kind of looks vaguely eastern European.
Drac munches on the neck of the young daughter but is scared away by her cross. Drac then hitches a ride on a stage coach that contains an old woman and her brother, who are heading back to the Double Bar B ranch. The ranch was named after the old woman's dead husband. Since Mr. Double Bar B has passed away, the woman's brother agreed to come out from Boston, leaving his plum job as a "banker" and help her run the ranch. Mrs. Double Bar B mentions that she hates travelling at night. The thing is, if she hadn't said that, I wouldn't even have known it was supposed to be night. In all the exterior shots, it looks like daytime shot through a smoked glass lens. The sky is even blue. It's just kind of darkish out, that's all. The interior shots are darker, but everyone has a huge spotlight shining in his or her face. It's hard to tell whether it's ever supposed to be day or night in this movie -- there doesn't seem to be any significant difference.
Mrs. Double Bar B shows off a picture of her dear 18 year old hottie of a daughter. Dracula stares at the picture with a look of such intense, leering lust that I'm amazed nobody kicked his butt right then just on general principles. Mrs. Double Bar B tells Drac about the "cave" (actually an old silver mine) near her ranch, and this seems to seal the deal for Drac, and he requests to see the picture of the young woman again. He leers even more intently this time, and again nobody seems to mind.
The stage stops at some random spot, where there might be a town, and there are definitely some Indians randomly camped out nearby. Drac takes a shine to one of the young Indian babes, and his face turns red and he disappears. You see, whenever Drac uses his mesmerism powers, they shine a big red light in his face. And he sort of randomly appears and disappears whenever he feels like it.
The stage takes off without Drac (who has turned up missing), and later some Indians discover the woman Drac was ogling dead in a field. The Indians sort of stand around her for a bit, then someone gives them a cue, and they all run off screaming, gathering their guns. It's a wonderful scene.
The Indians attack the stage, rightfully thinking that whoever killed th woman came on that stage. However, Drac is of course not on the stage -- he comes flying by later in his bat disguise (cue scene of fake bat hanging from a string) and takes the locket containing the picture of the hot woman. He also takes the wallet of the girl's uncle.
Then we cut to Betty (the young hottie) and Billy the Kid. It's amazing how friggin' wimpy Billy the Kid is. I mean, when I got this movie, I was thinking, "Billy the Kid versus Dracula? Who the heck is the good guy in this one?" Turns out they solved that problem by making Billy an absolute wuss. He's apparently getting ready to marry Betty but is worried people will find out he's really Billy the Kid. "That's all behind you," Betty says. Oh, right. Now that he's a nice guy, it's ok that he killed a bunch of people back a few years ago.
Now, however, Billy is the foreman of the Double Bar B ranch. Drac comes to town, posing as Betty's now-dead uncle, James Underhill. He takes a room in town (Why? If he's supposedly posing as James Underhill, why not go right to the Ranch?) and waits for the stage he knows won't be coming. Billy the Kid shows up and finds it slightly strange that the guy who was supposed to be on the stage with Betty's mother is here already. But it obviously doesn't concern him or anyone else too much, as it's forgotten pretty quickly.
News of the ransacked stage comes to town approximately fifteen seconds after Drac arrives, and approximately fifteen seconds after that, everyone is done mourning the dead. The immigrant people from the beginning show up and start babbling about how James Underhill is a vampire. I mean, just because the guy has a grotesquely pointed chin, a silly pointed goatee, bulging eyes, and wears a cape in the Wild West, they think the guy is a card-carrying member of the undead. Go figure.
Drac goes and lives at the Double Bar B Ranch for a while and sort of gets into the role of being a ranch owner. The immigrant couple come to stay after Drac kills their daughter, because the woman is determined she's going to get Drac and save Betty. She puts up Wolfsbane around Betty's window to keep vampires at bay, which raises the question -- if she had Wolfsbane and other vampire repellers before, why did her daughter get killed?
Anyway, some majorly random stuff between Billy and some other ranch hand happens, ending with Billy going to the doctor, who tells him all about vampires and stuff like a good doctor should. Drac ends up firing Billy and tries to run him out of town.
"ONE MOMENT PLEASE WHILE WE CHANGE REELS."
What? This is a videotape! Why on EARTH did they preserve the reel break? Laziness? Nostalgia? Stupidity? Oh, who cares. It ends up being one of the funnier moments in the film, as they actually pause for about a minute while they "change reels."
We pick up with Billy drinking in the bar. The ranch hand dude that he had trouble with before comes in and says that Mr. Underhill wants Billy clean out of town. No matter that Drac/Underhill has no real power to run anyone out of town. Billy and ranch boy get into a fight, and Billy shoots and kills ranch boy. It was "self defense" of course.
Billy rides back to the Double Bar B Ranch and nobody tries to stop him, even though all the ranch hands must know at this point that their boss had fired the guy and tried to run him out of town. Drac has since taken Betty for his "mate" (he does the red-faced mesmerism thing), and Billy comes in to find her totally catatonic. He finds the immigrant woman, and she tells him to take Betty to the doctor. This Billy does, all without seeming to arouse anyone's suspicions.
The Doctor doesn't know what to make of Betty's condition but is now pretty much convinced that vampires were involved (judging by the nasty puncture wounds on her neck). However, at that moment the Sheriff comes in and arrests Billy for murdering that ranch guy in the saloon. Billy complains it was self defense, but the Sheriff has some silly notion of due process and trials and such.
While Billy's in jail, Drac comes to take Betty back. The Doctor does a scientific test of the hypothesis that Drac is indeed a vampire by taking a mirror down from the wall and propping it up behind him. I can't really explain to you how crazy this scene was. It was all just so nonchalant. The woman takes down the mirror, then calmly stares into it. Drac turns around and stares at her for a bit before reacting. It's probably the best scene in the movie for the sheer stupidity of it. Drac's reaction to being discovered is not unlike Jaffar's resounding and entirely misplaced, "HA!" in Sinbad of the Seven Seas.
Drac takes Betty back to the ranch, and the Doctor goes to spring Billy from jail. In this scene, the aging, fat female doctor completely humiliates the sheriff by springing Billy from jail with pretty much zero effort.
Billy rides off for the final confrontation (FINALLY!). He meets up with Drac in the old abandoned silver mine. This scene was stupid on so many levels, it deserves a special look. First, Drac has set up a bed for his mate in the mine. I'm not sure why he chose the mine in the first place, or why he puts a bed in there for her. Second, when Billy shows up, Drac hides from him -- then, for pretty much no reason, steps out and reveals himself. Why bother to hide in the first place if he's just going to step out a few seconds later and reveal himself? Finally, after Billy takes a few ineffective shots at Drac with his pistol, the Doctor and the Sheriff show up, the Doctor gives Billy a scalpel (which, by the way, is HUGE), which Billy then pounds into Drac's heart. First of all, it's a METAL "scalpel" (I question the logic behind calling it a scalpel in the first place, since it's so insanely large and looks more like a railroad spike). I was pretty certain it had to be wood in order to kill a vampire. Second, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, we get a shot of the flapping bat on a string outside while Billy is spiking Drac. The bat falls from the sky and lies still in the grass. Huh? Isn't Drac supposed to be the bat? What's up with this random bat dying when Drac is spiked? Was this a really bad attempt at symbolism or what? At this point, it doesn't really matter I guess, since this is finally the end of the stupid movie.
I've just got a few more things to say about this movie. This movie loves to play fast and loose with the mythology of vampires, even seeming to follow the rules some of the time and ignore them completely other times. First, the provision that vampires can't go out in the daytime: In this movie, it's pretty much impossible to tell when it's night and when it's day, since they look practically the same. I finally stopped trying to figure out whether it was night or day because it ended up not mattering anyway. Second, that vampires don't eat: Several times during the movie, people try to get Drac to have a drink or have a meal, and he turns them down. This makes sense, since vampires drink blood only and can't digest anything else. However, at one point during the movie, Drac is seen having dinner at the ranch with Betty. Excellent. Way to just throw out that whole "doesn't eat" thing. Finally, the spike thing at the end: At least the Doctor doesn't actually say anything about it having to be a wooden stake. But pretty much every other vampire movie I've ever seen has made it quite plain that it's only a wooden stake that does anything. And yet this was clearly a metal spike that Billy drives through Drac's chest at the end. Go figure.
Final verdict on this movie is that it just doesn't live up to it's ludicrous title.
Scene to watch for: Looking for Drac's reflection.
Best line: "Where do I find this backwoods female pill-slinger?"
Thing's that make you go "Huh?": Who the heck thought Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula was a good idea for a movie?