Friday, 31 January 2014

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

This film is also known as Count Dracula and his Vampire Brides, which is actually the title I saw it under, but the one above is the original and I think a better precis of the plot.

It's the last film in which Christopher Lee appears as the Count, and it's easy enough to see why he didn't return. But we'll get to that shortly. Let's talk synopsis, first. The action takes place in then contemporary UK. A group of very powerful men have taken to visiting a remote home on a regular basis, and a small cadre of the secret service are trying to find out why. They have to be very circumspect however, as one of the men in question could easily have them all fired. It ultimately turns out that the men have fallen under the sway of a cult, and - after a gratuitously large amount of film has been dedicated to the naked woman at the cult's black mass - the investigators turn to Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing for assistance. This is Peter Cushing, joined by Joanna Lumley as his granddaughter. This is Lumly pre-Avengers, alas. If it had been after, they might have had her do something other than look pretty and scream.

Anyway, the good guys work out old Drac's behind the cult. He's using the four men to develop and distribute an incredibly virulent plague to wipe out mankind, in what may in fact be a deliberately self-destructive act (since he'll be wiping out his food sourc). There's lot of running around, badly staged fights, and the inevitable final confrontation between Van Helsing and the Count, where Dracula is defeated in what has to be one of the lamest ways ever committed to film. If I was Lee, I'd have not wanted to be further associated with a character that got punked this badly, either.

So is there anything much to recommend this? Not really, to be honest. If you're a Hammer completist, I guess you might check it out. Other than that, you can safely skip it.

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