Satanic Rites of Dracula, The

Hammer Productions, the iconic United Kingdom film company, is best known for its run of lavishly Gothic "Hammer Horror" pictures, which were produced from the 50s into the 70s.

As the iconic monsters of Universal Pictures began to fade away in the late 50s, Hammer Horror breathed new life into classic franchises such as "Frankenstein," "Dracula," and "The Mummy." Hammer films were typically low budget but featured extravagant sets and made use of talented British actors such as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

While watching the Monsters HD channel, which is by far one of my favorite channels ever, I stumbled across a little gem from Hammer Productions called "The Satanic Rites of Dracula," a 1974 flick which starred Christopher Lee as the Count himself, and Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing.

The eighth film in Hammer's series of Dracula films, "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" opens with secret service agent (Maurice O'Connell) who escapes from an English country house, in which satanic rituals are celebrated.

Before he dies, the agent reveals to his superiors that four prominent members of society are a part of the cult in question. These society types include government ministers, scientists and generals among others.

Scotland Yard is called in on the case and Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) is on the case. Murray appeared in the preceding Dracula film, titled "Dracula AD 1972." Catchy title, isn't it? Anyway, Murray decides it may be a good idea to consult the wise and venerable Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing, played exquisitely by the legendary Peter Cushing.

Meanwhile, back at the vampire cult compound, secret service secretary Jane (Valerie Van Ost) has been kidnapped and turned into a bloodsucker vamp. This leads agent Murray and Van Helsing's granddaughter Jessica (the beautiful Joanna Lumley) go to the England country home to find their missing friend.

This is where the movie really takes off and comes to life in the way only a Hammer Horror can. Several female vampires, led by Jane, trap Jessica in a crypt below the house. They're just about to sink their teeth into Jessica when Murray shows up to put a stake right through Jane's heart.

The following is a rather absurd journey into a Dracula storyline that deviates quite a bit from what you're used to. Turns out Dracula's cult are working on a virulent strain of the Bubonic plague, which they plan to unleash on the world so Vampires can rule the Earth. Yeah, pretty crazy right?
Dracula plans to take Van Helsing's granddaughter as his immortal bride, but obviously our favorite vampire hunter has a few things to say about that. Now Count Dracula and Dr. Van Helsing will face each other once more, the fate of the free world lies in their hands.

Okay, so maybe "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" isn't the best horror film ever made but dammit, it's got style. Christopher Lee plays the title character effortlessly, with tons of charm and a quiet menace behind his bloodshot eyes. Peter Cushing is just one of those actors who looks amazing on screen no matter the part he plays. Here, as Van Helsing, he lights up the screen once more with a quality performance.

Overall, this film was a nice little surprise to a lover of creature features and monster flicks. It's a bit derivative, and as I stated pretty absurd in terms of story - but entertaining nonetheless. I'd recommend this film only to the true cult lover of the macabre. Those seeking to delve into the cobweb infested crypts of Hammer Horror would do best to start with their original works - "Dracula," "The Mummy" and "The Curse of Frankenstein."

Reviewed by: adam
4 Comment(s)
Shea said...
HA that was fast. I was indeed surprised at how good this movie turned out. Lee and Cushing were awesome and decomposition at the end was 2 stars alone.
Shea said...
Oh yeah... I wish I had a vampire bride for every time the director racked focus.
Adam said...
Well, that and the nipples right Shea?
Andy said...
Did someone say Jumblies?