In London in the 1970s, Scotland Yard police investigators think they have uncovered a case of vampirism. They call in an expert vampire researcher named Van Helsing (a descendant of the ... See full summary »
The brilliant but misunderstood scientist Frankenstein builds a man made up of a collection of spare body parts. The monster becomes alive but he has mental capabilities much below par. The... See full summary »
A young psychiatrist interviews four inmates in a mental asylum to satisfy a requirement for employment. He hears stories about 1) the revenge of a murdered wife, 2) a tailor who makes a ... See full summary »
Penniless, Baron Frankenstein, accompanied by his eager assistant Hans, arrives at his family castle near the town of Karlstaad, vowing to continue his experiments in the creation of life. ... See full summary »
A Victorian-age scientist returns to London with his paleontological bag-of-bones discovery from Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately, when exposed to water, flesh returns to the bones ... See full summary »
A cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson family-like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by chemical pesticides being used by area farmers.
Dr. Warren Chapin is a pathologist who regularly conducts autopsies on executed prisoners at the State prison. He has a theory that fear is the result of a creature that inhabits all of us.... See full summary »
In London in the 1970s, Scotland Yard police investigators think they have uncovered a case of vampirism. They call in an expert vampire researcher named Van Helsing (a descendant of the great vampire-hunter himself, no less) to help them put a stop to these hideous crimes. It becomes apparent that the culprit is Count Dracula himself, disguised as a reclusive property developer, but secretly plotting to unleash a fatal virus upon the world. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Mark my words, "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" is indeed a very silly film, but vampire movies are silly in the first place so why not go for broke? Hammer Films was at the end of their rope by 1973 and knew it, so they mixed vampire hijinx with spy movie intrigue and cast Dracula as the megalomaniac villain instead of Goldfinger. You have to give them points for coming up with a new angle, even if the result doesn't really resemble anything Hammer did before it -- even "Dracula A.D. 1972", which this is something of a direct sequel to.
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing both play their next-to-last performances as Dracula and the tireless Professor Van Helsing as they pit their wits against each other for the final time ... Both would return in their respective roles once more in separate films that are even more bizarre than this one (Lee the absurd "Dracula & Son" and Cushing in the even more absurd "Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires", which also isn't as bad as you've heard), and while they are on screen together for only a few scenes fans of Hammer's production line really do need to treat themselves to this baby at least once. Though Euro Horror favorite Freddy Jones actually steals the show in a far to brief appearance as a biological warfare expert driven mad by his contract work for Dracula's SPECTRE-like criminal organization.
The plot is far from simple: Count Dracula is alive & well in his Undead state, living (or, not) in London where he commands a sect of Satanists fronting for a global syndicate bent on unleashing a plague on humanity that will ultimately deprive Dracula of his supply of shapely office girls upon which to feed. Without any fresh donors to resurrect his corporeal state from a glass vial filled with his ashes or dehydrated blood -- depending on the needs of the script -- he will finally find eternal rest. Or something like to that extent. One of the sad things about the manner in which this film has been dismissed is that it actually dares to depict Dracula as a creature with actual plans rather than a Simple Simon existence of sucking human blood & unleashing his revenge against those who trespass on his property.
But the results are admittedly somewhat difficult to take seriously. Or rather if you DO insist on taking it seriously what you are confronted with is a bizarre turkey of a modern day vampire thriller with motor cars and subway trams, police inspectors, bell bottomed fashion babes and secret agent operatives firing chirping silencer equipped automatic weapons mixed with the Gothic hullabaloo of Satanic blood sacrifices, vampire babes chained up in basements, and Dracula lurking in the shadows. The mixture of themes is jarring if you are used to the foggy castle on the hill approach but one thing is for sure: The movie is never boring, moves at a brisk pace, and allows it's lead actors some impressive scenes that almost work.
Redemptive moments are found in another grand show by Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, who's uncanny ability to look concerned and impart dire urgency on those whom he addresses never wavers for a second. Perhaps this speaks best for the talents of Cushing, who like John Carradine can make even the most ridiculous dialog sound completely on the level. There are also some interesting touches like the depiction of modern skyscrapers framed as Gothic castles, strange costuming for the bad guys consisting of cave man vests over "A Clockwood Orange" inspired coordinated polyesters, and an orchestrated rock music soundtrack that sounds like it may have influenced David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs". Or rather he ended up with a similar sounding creation at any rate.
One bit of consternation for fans revolves around the film's availability on home video. There is a common misconception that "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" (and it's Americanized re- release title, "Count Dracula & His Vampire Brides) has lapsed into public domain leading to an overkill of low-budget DVD & video releases over the years of a widescreen laserdisc version. Anchor Bay Entertainment's excellent DVD has since gone out of print and even that version features an assembly of the film that was subjected to BBFC pre-release cuts that have never been restored. Yet it's the best that one can do, look for a used copy maybe or their still quite passable VHS pressing, it's available for a few dollars and is an actual digitally remastered anamorphic widescreen transfer from the original elements.
6/10: You really can't call yourself a Hammer fan and not give this one a chance, and can rest assured that it's OK to laugh.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?