Monday, November 28, 2011

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

Director: Alan Gibson

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Stephanie Beacham, Christopher Neame, Michael Coles, Marsha A. Hunt, Caroline Munro, Janet Key, William Ellis, Philip Miller, Michael Kitchen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Count is back, with an eye for London's hotpants . . . and a taste for everything

Plot: In London 1872 - the final battle between Lawrence Van Helsing and Count Dracula on top of a coach results in Dracula dying from a stake made from the remains of a wooden wheel. Lawrence dies from his wounds and, as he is buried, a servant of Dracula buries the remains of the stake by the grave and keeps a bottle of Dracula's ashes and the ring. One hundred years later, the colorful 1972, Johnny, the great-grandson of the servant joins up with a "group" containing Jessica, the grand-daughter of the present vampire hunter, Abraham Van Helsing and with their unknowing help resurrect Dracula in the 20th Century who is determined to destroy the house of Van Helsing, but who can believe that The king of the Vampires really exists and is alive - in 20th Century London?

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? YES!

#48 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

This flick is far out! I was expecting something silly, unsure of how Hammer would be able to break away from the 19th century Gothic Dracula flicks they had been making for 15 years at that point. Well, they pulled it off. Of course it helps to have Lee and Cushing back in their familiar roles. Too bad there was only one more Dracula picture left at Hammer with Cushing and Lee, THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973).

The picture opens with the demise of Dracula in 1872. Michael Vickers' score lacks that Hammer touch that James Bernard gave so many (I was REALLY missing his music here) BUT that all changed once we landed in 1972 London. Then it was real groovy and it worked very well. Dracula isn't given much to do but what he does is played to the hilt by Lee. Cushing's Van Helsing kicks all kinds of ass like always. I think Cushing gets more physical than usual, especially at this late in the game (he was near 60).

The kids are a lot of fun and they really picked a winner with Van Helsing's granddaughter, Jessica (played by Stephanie Beacham). The rest of the cast does a fine job and it's always a treat seeing London in this era. I'm really impressed at how well this turned out. I realize there's still one left but I anticipate someday doing a massive Hammer Dracula marathon and enjoying the hell out of them. Great stuff.

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