Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dracula A.D. 1972

The Count is Back, with an Eye for London's Hotpants...   and a Taste for Everything

Dracula A.D. 1972
I will trade blows with any man who tells me that Bela Lugosi was a better Dracula than Christopher Lee.  Ok, maybe not.  But I will argue vehemently and shake my fist.  This is not Lee's best Dracula film, not by a very, very long shot but the campiness of Dracula A.D. 1972 makes it a fun ride.

The strangest element of these later Hammer films is the acting.  Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are simply too damn good for these films.  I'm used to ludicrous story lines and cheesy special effects but usually a similar level of acting prowess accompanies these elements - but  not so with these Hammer films.  Lee and Cushing are great once again in Dracula A.D. 1972.

The film begins in 1872 with a frantic fight scene on a speeding coach between Count Dracula and Dr. Van Helsing.  The coach crashes, Dracula is impaled on a wooden spoke and both he and Van Helsing die as result of the crash.  A follower of The Count arrives at the scene, collects his ashy remains and buries them at a church near Van Helsing's grave.  One hundred years later a bored group of counterculture youths - led by guy who looks strikingly like Dracula's disciple from one hundred years before - decide to practice some good ole fashioned black magic to entertain themselves at the church where Dracula was buried.  But their leader has more sinister motives than just shits 'n giggles.  He performs a blood ritual and calls forth Dracula from the grave which was totally not groovy with the others.

"Get a haircut, hippie."
It just so happens that the buxom blonde in this black magic party is a descendant of Dr. Van Helsing and has a grandfather who is an expert in the occult and looks exactly like the Van Helsing who died one hundred years before.  He figures everything out and goes hunting for the resurrected Dracula and his minions.

If you're looking for the best of the Hammer Dracula films, this isn't it.  I'd recommend something like Horror of Dracula from 1958 as the best of the bunch.  However, if you're looking for a slightly campy and dated vampire tale with beautiful sets and solid acting, check out Dracula A.D. 1972.  It's worth watching.