Son of Dracula was made during a period when Starr, in between occasional single releases and session work, was concentrating on film-making and acting. Two movies in which he had starred, 200 Motels and Blindman, had been released at the end of 1971, and before starting on this one, he had just finished work on his directorial debut, the T.Rex documentary Born to Boogie.
As well as producing Son of Dracula, Starr would appear as Merlin the Magician, who follows the birth and rise of young Count Downe, played by Nilsson. Starr and he were longtime friends, and the ex-Beatle had recently played drums on Nilsson’s 1972 album Son of Schmilsson, which had spoofed horror movie motifs. A few months after those sessions, in August 1972, Starr decided to make a rock and roll Dracula movie (originally titled Count Downe), and invited Nilsson to come on board. At first, Nilsson thought the whole idea must’ve come from his recent album; as it turned out, Starr had not followed its release, and until then-wife Maureen brought him a copy, he didn’t even know that Son of Schmilsson had already used a similar theme.
After the killing of his father (Count Dracula, the King of the Netherworld), by a mysterious assassin, Count Downe (Harry Nilsson) is summoned from his travels abroad by family advisor Merlin (Ringo Starr) in order to prepare him to take over the throne. Baron Frankenstein (Freddie Jones) is also on hand to help in any way he can. Problem is, Downe wants no part of this responsibility, and instead wishes to become human and mortal − especially after meeting a girl named Amber (Suzanna Leigh), with whom he falls in love. He approaches old family nemesis Dr Van Helsing (Dennis Price), who agrees to enable the Count’s transformation, much to the dismay of the residents of the Netherworld.
Despite the best efforts of a host of monsters, as well as one traitorous figure who is dealt with by the trusted Merlin, Van Helsing performs the operation and removes Downe’s fangs. He then informs the Count that he can now live out his days in the sunlight, with Amber at his side.
Keith Moon of The Who and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin both appear in the film, alternating as drummer in Count Downe’s band. Other band members include Klaus Voormann (another old friend of Starr’s), Peter Frampton, an uncredited Leon Russell, and the regular Rolling Stones horn section of Bobby Keys and Jim Price.
90 Minutes – Region 1