This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Dracula AD 1972


After being defeated by Van Helsing in 1872, Dracula is then resurrected in present day 1972. Here he goes about hunting Jessica Van Helsing in order enact his ultimate revenge; to end the Van Helsing blood line once and for all.

Dracula AD 1972 is a 1972 Hammer Production. It stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Stephanie Beacham. It was directed by Alan Gibson. It is the 7th film in the Hammer Dracula series. It was due to the success of 1970's Count Yorga, Vampire (which is a modern day set vampire film) that Warner Bros commissioned Hammer to make 2 present day set Dracula films. The time frame of this Dracula film is different to that of the previous ones, the segment at the start portraying Dracula and Van Helsing's final battle is set in 1872 but in Dracula where they meet for the first time it is somewhere in the 1880s.

This one gets straight into the action and it's pretty good too. Dracula and Van Helsing are doing battle, their “final battle” I might add, on top of a runaway coach. As if that isn't enough, the coach then crashes into a tree causing Dracula to get impaled with a broken wheel. AWESOME! Van Helsing watches him as he dies and then dies himself. What can I say, the whole ordeal must have knocked it out of him. All the while another person has been watching the whole thing, presumably a disciple of Dracula's as he then puts some of his remains into a glass container and buries them near Van Helsing's grave just after his funeral. Cue the funky 70s music.

The funky 70s music, which I might add is the same one track used throughout the film, is terrible. I mean, fair enough use it at the start to establish the setting. There it's fine, the camera moves away from the shot of Van Helsing's grave still in 1872 with on screen text saying “Dracula” then looks to the sky and suddenly a shot of a plane and the rest of the title “AD 1972” appears as does the funky music. That is fine, it sets the time frame for the film. What isn't fine is the continuous use of it, it completely kills great scenes. It sounds like that of what you would expect in a blaxsploitation film, but more about the funky 70s music and how it kills the mood later.

Hey, these teens are smart, they seem to know their stuff about how long it will take for a police car to arrive to the house to arrest them, they've taken into consideration that it's Saturday night, that they'll have to take an alternative route to avoid the traffic, hell they've probably even taken into consideration airspeed velocity. And there's me thinking they were just a bunch of drunken hippies. Oh wait, they were wrong. Nee Nor, Nee Nor. The police have arrived.

Where frilly shirts still in, in 1972?

Call me dull, but why does every group of young people want to play with black magic and raise the Devil. I was always content just playing with pogs. Why can't they just get pissed and stoned, then settle down and play a nice game of Monopoly in the old church instead of resurrecting Dracula?

The guy who is resurrecting Dracula is a descendant of his 1872 ancestor (who also looked exactly like him that's Spatial Genetic Multiplicity that is), but what I'm wondering is why did he wait til 1972 to bring him back. What made him think “1972, yeah I think he'll like this.”? I know it's the whole 100 years to the date of his death malarkey but they never waited 100 years to resurrect him in the other 6 films. He must have been resurrected every other week in those.

Again with the funky 70s music. It's just killed the atmospheric mood. I don't know why it's used so much because there is some creepy Hammer-y style music in there that works brilliantly. But then it gets blended into the funky music and kills it. They should have just used the typical Hammer style creepy music for those scenes and it would have been brilliant, we don't need reminding that it's set in 1972 they're wearing flares for fuck sake!

BEST LINE EVER! “I'll bet you a pound to a piece of shit” What the hell does it even mean? I have no idea, but it's brilliant! I'm going to use that.

That's twice now that I've seen a teenager parking their car outside and walking into the old church leaving the car headlights turned on. Don't they realise it'll drain the battery? Good luck fleeing from Dracula in your car when the battery is dead. Idiot.

Great choice of music for the sequence when Peter Cushing's Van Helsing is in a panic running around the streets searching for his grand daughter. Yep, you've guessed it, the funky 70s music. Very appropriate, obviously. Now let's go and have a dance, after all I reckon Van Helsing would be if he wasn't all in a fluster.

Completely loving the use of Stephanie Beacham's boobs by the way. Now I know they're lovely and all, but do they really need to be peering into shot when the focus isn't even her but is instead Dracula and his hand burning because he held a cross?

Great death! Van Helsing throws Holy water at Dracula which causes him to lose his footing and fall into a grave full of stakes. And if that isn't enough Van Helsing then grabs a spade and pushes it into Dracula's back forcing him even more onto the stakes so that they go right throw him and out the other side. Fuck yes!

Overall, it's not the best Dracula film as you will have gathered, and as such it does get a bad rap from most people. But I can't help but still enjoy it, it has it's faults (mainly the constant use of the same piece of funky 70s music) but for me it's a sort of guilty pleasure. It's just a fun film. It's a shame Dracula doesn't do much mind, but the scenes when both him and Van Helsing are together are when he kicks into action. Unfortunately those scenes are what start and end the film, so what you have in between is Dracula telling his disciple to bring Jessica to him but he keeps bringing the wrong women so Dracula keeps being pissed off, and Van Helsing assisting the police in hunting Dracula. What is great about this though is it's the first Dracula film to star both Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing since the first Dracula film in 1958. There seems to be this running theme of reincarnation, or at least the idea of a descendant looking the same as a person from the past. Both the disciple and Van Helsing look like their ancestors, so that's interesting. All in all, I'd probably say only watch this if you're a big fan of the Hammer Dracula films (like me!) otherwise it will probably put you off watching any of the others.

Dracula AD 1972 3/5

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