Dracula A.D. 1972

April 23, 2009 § 1 Comment

Some notes for Hammer Horror, over thirty years too late:

Don’t have the great grand-daughter of Van Helsing faint on the jukebox, this is supposed to be a more progressive century. Don’t have all the men turn out to be power hungry wankers eager to become vampires, this is supposed to be a more progressive century. Be advised Dracula doesn’t look dignified biting into hippies. Don’t have Peter Cushing, as the twentieth-century descendant of Van Helsing, sit around in an office for the first hour. When he does do something, don’t have him run around in the streets helplessly, and leave out the scene where he stops and looks at a mannequin. Be advised a satanic ritual rarely begins with “Dig the music, kids!” Don’t have a woman as attractive as Caroline Munro be the first one to disappear. Have a powerful orchestral score or have the funky seventies music, but pick one and stick to it. Don’t have the overacting vampire disciple of Dracula run into the bathroom in agony, throw himself into the shower and turn it on to die there for no particular reason. And I think you can just call your film Dracula 1972, the rest makes the title clunky — and try not to inspire Dracula 2000, but it’s already too late.

I did like the beginning battle between Van Helsing and Dracula, followed by the sudden transition to the twentieth-century with the shot of the plane in the sky. Good choice to have Peter Cushing return as Van Helsing (or, his descendent this time around) along with Christopher Lee once again as Dracula, both lending the film some class. And to their credit, neither of them phone in a performance, though Cushing will be far better and much more touching the same year in one part of an five story anthology film, Tales from the Crypt — he plays a kindly old man targeted by a nasty neighbour. Playing Dracula for the sixth time, Lee will later comment that it got to the point where he was emotionally pressured into it, with the suggestion that people need the work. Please note, Horror of Dracula (1959) was a fun, colourful and classy update of the legend. A classic, really. But this is your seventh vampire film, and your sixth one with Dracula. You might have stopped somewhere along the way. It’s a film that’s easy enough to forgive, but also easy enough to forget.

Oh, and thanks for keeping Michael Kitchen employed as one of the young punks, he’ll be subtle and brilliant decades later in the TV series Foyle’s War, as a quietly competent police officer during wartime.


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