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 ...
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Three distinguished English gentlemen accidentally resurrect Count Dracula, killing a disciple of his in process. The Count seeks to avenge his dead servant, by making the trio die in the hands of their own children.
When Castle Dracula is exorcised by the Monsignor, it accidentally brings the Count back from the dead. Dracula follows the Monsignor back to his hometown, preying on the holy man's beautiful niece and her friends.
A young man, Paul Carlson, is on a trip and spends the night at count Dracula's castle. Needless to say, he is murdered. After some time has passed, the young man's brother Simon comes to ... See full summary »
Roy Ward Baker
Baron Frankenstein is once again working with illegal medical experiments. Together with a young doctor, Karl and his fiancée Anna, they kidnap the mentally sick Dr. Brandt, to perform the ... 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>
During their fist meeting with Van Helsing, he offers the men a cigarette from a cigarette box. He closes the lid and sets the box down on a table. In the next shot, the lid is open. See more »
Prof. Lorrimer Van Helsing:
[Urbanely to D.D. Denham, to hide that he is onto something]
What are you going to do with me? You can't let me go, can you? I know too much. Do you mind if I smoke? It's a bad habit, I know, but it helps me to concentrate.
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The accepted wisdom regarding the Hammer Dracula pictures is that they started great, tailed off to good, and, by the time the 70's rolled round, were stinkers. Well, sorry friends, but this time the accepted wisdom is wrong.
Personally, I have never been a great fan of Vampire films in general and Dracula in particular. The vast majority of the Hammer fang flicks bore me rigid (I like the Frankenstein's though - especially 'and the monster from Hell'). And I've always thought that Chris Lee was far better employed in other roles. But 'The Satanic rites of Dracula' represents the best of Hammer and Lee.
For me, one of it's major strengths is that Dracula remains implied rather than seen until the last third of the film. Instead, we view the sinister workings of his organization and it's minions. Lee appears after the first 30 minutes, in a short and ineffective scene in which he emerges from a puff of smoke to claim a kidnapped damsel, and then disappears again for another 30. This brief, unsatisfactory piece of business was presumably inserted to reassure punters who were worried that half an hour had elapsed without presenting the title character. Personally, I'd cut it to make an even better film.
The withholding of the chief vampire manages to build up a real sense of atmosphere and some genuine foreboding, which pays off well in the great little sequence where Cushing's Van Helsing finally confronts the Count, who has been operating under the funky moniker of D.D. Denham. A simple but very effectively staged episode with Pete n' Chris on top form.
The film as a whole is well shot and cut by ex-'Avengers' man Alan Gibson, who creates an effectively bleak and chilly atmosphere through good location work (a seemingly deserted London and Dracula's spooky country retreat) and some well designed interiors (hidden, seedy MI5 offices and Dracula's business headquarters). The tone and 'feel' of the picture is nicely established by the opening credits sequence. Again, simple but effective.
There are good performances by Cushing, Lee, William Franklyn, Freddie Jones and Michael Coles. Even Joanna Lumley. A modicum of 70's cheese, as evidenced by the vampire brides sequence and John Cacavas' cool 'chicka-wah' score, enriches, rather than taints, the whole experience. And some choice lines of fruity dialogue raise an occasional delighted grin. I've seen the film numerous times over the past 11 or 12 years and for me it never palls.
Along with 'Captain Kronos', definitely one of Hammers best.
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