Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972, Alan Gibson)

"Dracula AD 1972" is often snarkily dismissed even by the most ardent Hammer fan as a low point of the Hammer Dracula cycle. Kitschy, camp and dated, it is admittedly a long way from the glorious dizzy heights of the original "Dracula" ("Horror of Dracula" to heathens) and "The Brides of Dracula" (Cushing's best performance as Van Helsing), but there's just something about this movie that - like a deformed and demented child locked in the attic - i find impossible not to love, even if i know i shouldn't.

The early '70s hippy slang may have been dated even by the time the film was released, and the gang of 'teenagers' are so blatantly in their late 20s / early 30s they put the cast of "Smallville" to shame, but amidst the psychedelic chicanery are some marvellous pieces of acting, characterisation and direction. Cushing gives it 100% as always, and even on autopilot Lee is mesmerising - he even gets an original line of Stoker Dracula dialogue in here: "You would play your brains against mine? Against me, who has commanded nations?". A young Stephanie Beacham is gorgeous as Van Helsing's damsel in distress granddaughter, and i will happily watch anything with the lovely Caroline Munro in it (seriously. I didn't sit through "Slaughter High" for my health, y'know). The standout performance, though, has to be Christopher Neame as Johnny Alucard. Brilliantly camp, preening like a peacock in a ruffled shirt and velvet jacket combo possibly looted from Jon Pertwee's locker at the BBC, Alucard is one of the greatest evil henchmen in screen history, all the way up to his memorable death by running water in a power shower. I fail to see the truth in the accusations that Hammer were running short of ideas by this point.

Pure brilliance, and - "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" notwithstanding - a fitting epitaph to Cushing and Lee's immortal battles as Van Helsing and Dracula. Requiescat in pace, ultima.


  1. You know with all this dracula love going on, you must checkout the anime Hellsing: Ultimate, a ludicrously violent take on vampires by the Japanese. Set in England, "tame" vampire Arucard (yes, that's not a typo it's a victim of the Japanese L <-> R issue) fights Nazi zombies for the Hellsing organisation. Worth listening to the UK dub for the first four episodes because the English script was written by a classic Who nerd who slips in little lines of dialogue from old Who episodes into it, and he gets very geeky about having cast Pamela Salem as the Queen in one episode.

  2. I have heard of this for a while, and it shall definitely be investigated at some point. If it's as good as 'Vampire Hunter: D', even, it'll be worth it.

  3. Did the dialogue go something like, "Yo, hip cats! It's a vampire, you dig? Far out!"?

    A vampire being killed by a power shower is actually a rather clever idea.

    Which nations has Dracula commanded? Always thought there was something a bit creepy about Tony Blair...

    Adjectives which mean 'of, like or relating to a peacock' are 'pavonine' and 'pavonian'. They make me happy.