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Sins of the fathers
on 15 December 2007
Taste the Blood of Dracula follows on so directly from Dracula Has Risen From the Grave that, after one particularly bizarre piece of deus ex machina that borders on the inspired, it begins with Roy Kinnear literally stumbling into the last scene of the movie. On a less welcome note it also marks the point at which an increasingly reticent Christopher Lee was reduced to a cameo figure as the Count - it's not until the halfway point that he's resurrected in a less than convincing display of special effects. Until then much of the film is carried, and rather well, by Geoffrey Keen's Bible-bashing strict disciplinarian Victorian dad, the kind of man you can set your watch by as he sets off to do `charity work' in the East End with his respectable friends John Carson and Peter Sallis saving fallen women - about two each once a month in Roy Hudd's brothel discreetly located in the backrooms of a soup kitchen. It's there that he and his pals are surprised playing horsie by Ralph Bates' dissolute disinherited aristo who has sold his soul to the Devil and offers to broker the same deal for them if they'll buy Dracula's cape and blood for him, reasoning that "Having tried everything that your narrow imaginations can suggest, you're bored to death with it all, right?" Naturally it all ends badly with Bates getting a severe case of indigestion after drinking the blood of the title and getting kicked to death by his new friends, conveniently providing Dracula with a new body and a new mission - to destroy all three men through their children (a typical role-call of amply-bosomed totty, future BBC regulars and supporting actors who never made it to the major leagues in the forms of Linda Hayden, Isla Blair, Martin Jarvis and Anthony Higgins in the days when he was still calling himself Anthony Corlan) while Michael Ripper's ineffectual detective displays a pronounced lack of interest in the mounting body count.
The idea of the sins of the fathers being revenged by their children is a good one, offering both a neat twist and a reason for Lee's extremely limited screen time that keeps him very much to the sidelines until the disappointing finale, but it's certainly one of the more entertaining sequels and, a couple of lapses such as the resurrection scene aside, boasts superior and atmospheric direction from Peter Sasdy with some surprisingly graceful camerawork. It's also the last of the Hammer Draculas that looks like they spent some money on it - when they churned out Scars of Dracula the same year, it looked like they'd spent all their money on this one and had only pocket change and whatever was left over in the studio wardrobe for that!
Warner's DVD offers a good widescreen transfer with the original trailer as the only extra.