SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT!
Weller, an English Businessman, travelling through Eastern-Europe witnesses the events from the end of Dracula Has Risen From the Grave. The man collects Dracula's blood which has become a power substance, along with his cape and his ring. Some time later, three gentlemen go to a brothel, there they encounter Lord Courtley who takes them to buy Dracula's blood from Weller in order to perform a ceremony. Courtley fills four goblets with the blood of Dracula, one for each of the men including himself. The three men refuse to drink the blood, so with Courtley being the only one willing to finish the ceremony he is left to drink the blood alone. After drinking from the goblet, he falls to the ground screaming in pain begging for the three men to help him. But instead they beat him to death and flee the scene, returning to their everyday lives. The dead body of Lord Courtley then transforms into Dracula, here he vows to avenge his servant's death by killing those who killed Courtley.
Taste the Blood of Dracula is a 1970 Hammer production. It is the sequel to 1968's Dracula Has Risen From The Grave. It stars Christopher Lee, Linda Hayden and Anthony Corlan. It was directed by Peter Sasdy.
I really like the way that this film actually picks up exactly where the previous one left off, in fact it picks up before the point on which the other one ended, but the story ties in with the previous film's ending. This I feel was a really interesting story telling method which makes Dracula Has Risen From The Grave and Taste the Blood of Dracula an almost 2 part story. Which I like just because it was a different approach from Hammer.
Due to Christopher Lee's increasing reluctance to reprise the role of Dracula, the film was originally written without him and instead written to have Lord Courtley become the new vampire of the Dracula series, he was intended to become a vampire after his death at the hands of the three gentlemen and then exact his revenge upon them. But Hammer's American distributor refused to release the film without Dracula in it, so Hammer had to convince Lee to return. I personally think it would have been a bit naff to continue the series without Dracula, it then would have became a non-Dracula franchise claiming to be a Dracula franchise, but I do think they could have got away with it for this one. Afterall the title is Taste the Blood of Dracula, which Lord Courtley does do in the film, so I think the film could have worked as a Dracula-lite film, much like 1960's The Brides of Dracula. That way Hammer could then have picked up once again with Lee as Dracula for the next one. This would have not only given Christopher Lee a break from the role but also audiences a break from the character, leaving them anticipating his return.
Vincent Price was originally cast to play one of the three gentlemen, but when the film's budget got cut they could no longer afford him. Which is a shame really, it would have been nice to have seen Vincent Price alongside Christopher Lee in a Dracula film, all that would have been missing then would have been Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, and then there ladies and gentlemen we would have the perfect Hammer Horror.
Notably, there was some interesting camera work and visuals, I liked the use of the camera zooming in on Lord Courtley's face in rhythm to the throbbing of a heartbeat. There was also the rotating camera, showing Dracula's point of view looking down from the top of the window inside the church, which gives us the same dizzy, vertigo sensation that Dracula presumably is going through. I also really liked the use of a cross that has a blinding light on the side facing Dracula, I just thought it was really cool.
It was nice to see Ralph Bates in the film, true he didn't have a big role but it was vital to the story, after all Lord Courtley is the one that resurrects Dracula. Just would have been nice to have had him in it a bit longer than he was, it's always a treat to see a Hammer with Ralph Bates in. It's a shame he wasn't in many. But the ones he is in are rather good.
Just like the previous Dracula film, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, the certificate this film received at the time bewilders me, in America it got a GP rating, which is the equivalent to nowadays PG rating, even though the film contains nudity and violence. Yet when the film got released in America on DVD it got an R rating. What can I say it was a different time.
There are some good deaths, these include one of the three gentlemen getting a spade to the head. Another one played by Peter “Wallace” Sallis getting a stake through the heart, vampires' revenge I call it. They're sick of getting staked all the time so they've decided to do it in return on a non-vampire.
Overall, I rather liked this Dracula film, it was definitely an improvement on the previous one. I think Peter Sasdy, director of other Hammer films including 1971's Hands of the Ripper, did a good job with this film. The dark, eerie atmosphere was well executed and as I mentioned earlier he gave the film some quirky camera angles which I rather liked. I liked the plot, I liked the idea of Dracula on a revenge mission, as opposed to just randomly killing people. I also loved the creative ways for Dracula to exact his revenge; spade to the head, staking a non-vampire. The only thing this film was missing was Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but I say that every time I review a Dracula film without him in it, so I guess you can take that to mean this is a pretty good Dracula film.
Taste the Blood of Dracula 4/5