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The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires (1974)

Sometimes you just have to wonder what was going on in the heads of movie makers when they started out on some of these schemes.

"I know," someone must have said, "let's make a Kung Fu - Vampire movie! No-one's done that before! It's this film that'll put Hammer back on the map!"

Yes, this film really is a Kung Fu/Vampire film. Honest. After the relative disasters that were Dracula - AD1972 and Satanic Rites, both set in the "present day", Hammer decided they were going to try something different. And this was the result.

To be honest, on its second viewing this film isn't quite as bad as it sounds (the first time you watch it you just sit there in awe of the unabashed crapness of it all).

For a start, the opening scene sees a Chinese hobo making his way through "Transylvania", which for the first and only time in a Hammer movie, doesn't look like the home counties. No, this time it looks strikingly like Hong Kong - which is of course where it was filmed. The hobo turns out to be the bloke who looks after the "Seven Golden Vampires" (although why they'd need looking after is anyone's guess) and he's come to visit Dracula to ask for his help (help to do what? It's never really explained). Dracula isn't looking himself, either - by this time Christopher Lee had buggered off well and truly, annoyed at the typecasting which had kept him in employment for the past decade or so.

Dracula now looks like a particularly camp hairdresser with bad make-up and appalling dubbing.

Anyway, getting back to the plot...

Dracula kills his visitor and assumes his form (shame the bloke hadn't thought this might happen, or he could have saved himself a lot of bother). Cut to Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, lecturing at a Chinese university on Vampirism to a bunch of unimpressed-looking natives (why did they go the lecture if they didn't want to listen?).

It turns out that Van Helsing has heard the legend of the seven golden vampires, which he recounts, imploring his audience to believe it, even though he has no evidence, facts or anything to back him up. Luckily, one of his audience happens to be from the mysterious "willage" where the legend happened, and implores VH to return with him to help kill the undead bastards.

By the way, one of the vampires (who are quite the funniest-looking bunch you're ever likely to see) has already been killed - making a mockery of the title of the film, for a start.

The old Prof relishes the chance to do battle with such fiends again, and agrees to embark on this latest adventure. Along with his new friend's brothers and sister (pledged to defend him to the death), his foppish son and the truly appalling Julie Ege, they set off.

I won't give any more of the "plot" away (you can probably guess the rest anyway). Suffice to say there's a great deal of martial arts, a fair amount of blood, a bit of female nudity (the vampires get their kicks by ripping off the flimsy tops of the local wimminfolk), and a big cauldron of blood which serves no purpose other than for the baddies to fall into.

It all depends on your taste as to what you think of this truly remarkable film. But I'll just add one more thing - considering the everyone's so scared of these vampires, they're probably the most easy to kill I've ever seen. Wooden stakes, metal swords, fire - everything seems to kill 'em. A can of fly spray would probably do them irreparable harm. Golden? Legend of the Seven Shit Vampires more like. And who decided Julie Ege should ever appear in films? She doesn't even get her kit off in this one, and the nearest I can get to a description of her… erm, talent is that she comes across like a second rate Bo Derek.


Director: Roy Ward Baker Writer(s): Don Houghton

Cast: Peter Cushing - Prof. Van Helsing, David Chiang - Hsi Ching, Julie Ege - Vanessa Buren, Robin Stewart - Leyland Van Helsing, Szu Shih - Mai Kwei, John Forbes-Robertson - Count Dracula, Robert Hanna - British Consul, Shen Chan - Kah, James Ma - Hsi Ta Fong, Lah Ann - Hsiu Sung, swordsman Liu Hoy Ling Chia, Yung Liu - Hsi Kwei Wong, Han Chan - Leung Hon Chen, Tien Loong - Hsi San


Last updated: February 23, 2010

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