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Dracula AD1972 (1972)

It has to be said... this film isn't very good. It has it's moments, sure, and some of the dialogue has to be heard to be believed, but somehow the whole thing falls more than a bit flat. It's certainly not "so bad it's good", like Horror Hospital, and it's nowhere near as good as its sequel, Satanic Rites Of Dracula.

It's not even as amusing as The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires, and the distinct lack of any blood, violence or nudity makes you wonder exactly why it still holds an 18 certificate. These days it would probably be put out as a PG. Honest.

The worst thing about it is it seems like such a lost opportunity, because the first few minutes, which make up the prologue in 1872, are actually brilliant. The weird colours as Van Helsing and Dracula fight it out on top of a speeding carriage make the whole thing bizarre and a bit trippy - without resorting to the overt references to drugs that occur later in the film.

Of course Dracula is impaled on a broken cartwheel and as his adversary dies, so does Van Helsing. Our hero gets buried in a graveyard, and outside one of Dracula's acolytes buries his ashes on unhallowed ground.

The indecipherable credits have images of swinging London behind them - ie an aeroplane, a building site, and a motorway. Also Bass pubs, the London Steak House (whatever that was) and the obligatory Red London Bus.

Things go rapidly downhill at this exact point, as we are invited to a party being attended by hip "young" things and the "quite good, actually) band Stoneground. As a bunch of 30-somethings try and act like 15-year-olds watched by even older people with shocked looks on their faces, the police are called. Frankly if someone had brought Caroline Munroe and Stephanie Beacham to my party, I'd have been quite happy.

It gets worse. The so-called "gang" are so crap they'd make Oliver Reed's lot in The Damned feel embarassed. They hang around in coffee bars drinking the beverage at 20p a cup, doing Coke (the drink) and perhaps smoking the occasional bit of "pot" (oooh... scary). Jessica (Van Helsing's daughter) then tells us that she's never dropped acid (of course - we can't possibly have the leading lady doing anything naughty), yet she's happy to go to a black magic ritual in a nearby half demolished church.

Despite being freaked out by finding her Great Grandfather's headstone in the churchyard, Jessica hangs around - but refuses to take part in the ritual organised by gang leader Johnny Alucard (wonder what that spells backwards?), and that pleasure falls to Caroline Munroe, who gets blood poured all over her. Cheers. "Dig the music, kids".

Everyone scatters apart from the unfortunate Laura (Munroe), and Johnny pulls Dracula's stake out of the ground (which has just been sticking out like that for the past 100 years), resurrecting his dark lord. Of course Laura gets it in the neck and is then half buried under a pile of rubble.

There's a ton more awful dialgue, including my favourite when the police decide to bring in "the kids" for questioning: "Sergeant, I'll bet you a pound to a piece of shit there's hash at that party..."

Dracula, after killing off another girl, reveals that he has returned to destroy the house of Van Helsing. Johnny wants immortality by becoming a vampire, Van Helsing works out that Alucard is Dracula spelt backwards (with the aid of a pen and a piece of paper), and the police inspector replaces the Newton's Cradle on his office desk with one of those electric wire test-of-skill thingies.

Why Johnny would want to become a vampire when they're scared of silver and can be destroyed by pure running water is anyone's guess - and sure enough, he gets his in pure Naked Gun style when he manages to expose himself to sunlight, switch on the shower and fall into the bath all at the same time. This is possibly the best moment in the whole film, just because it's so crap it defies belief.

Van Helsing follows Dracula to the church, sticks him with a silver dagger, throws holy water at him and watches as the vampire falls backwards into a grave, staking himself. All to hideously inappropriate music.

At the beginning of the film the assumption is that at least the "gang" will be killed in a variety of gory and violent ways, but we're even denied that - they just all disappear somewhere in the middle at an unseen party. That leaves us with two bitings and three sub-Buffy bloodless vampire deaths. Seen after umpteen TV screenings of Satanic Rites, this is incredibly poor - and the worst thing of all is that the fuckwit in the monk's robes doesn't even get a slap.

"Rest In Final Peace" my arse.

Director: Alan Gibson Writer(s): Don Houghton

Cast: Christopher Lee - Count Dracula, Peter Cushing - Professor Van Helsing, Stephanie Beacham - Jessica Van Helsing, Christopher Neame - Johnny Alucard, Michael Coles - Inspector, Marsha A. Hunt - Gaynor (as Marsha Hunt), Caroline Munro - Laura, Janet Key - Anna, William Ellis - Joe Mitcham, Philip Miller - Bob, Michael Kitchen - Greg, David Andrews - Detective Sergeant, Lally Bowers - Matron, Constance Luttrell - Mrs. Donnelly, Michael Daly - Charles, Artro Morris - Police Surgeon, Jo Richardson - Crying Matron, Penny Brahms - Hippy Girl, Brian John Smith - Hippy Boy, Sal Valentino - Rockgroup Singer/Guitarist (as Stoneground), Tim Barnes - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Jane Anthony - Debby Girl, John Blakely - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Flanagan - Go-Go Girl, John Franklyn-Robbins - Minister, Brian Godula - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Lynne Hughes - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Deirdre La Porte - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Cory Lerios - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Lydia Mareno - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Steve Price - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground), Annie Sampson - Rockgroup Member (as Stoneground)


Last updated: February 22, 2010

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