on 17 July 2014
To me this is actually the best of all the Hammer Dracula movies. It has a darkness about it that makes it the scariest of all of them. Especially the resurrection of Dracula in the church. Alucard's character is actually reciting the names of real (at least mythically) demons. Caroline Monro's (what a sexy woman!, wish she was in it till the end) demise is scary and erotic! And the opening scene in Hyde Park is also great. As well as the final fight in the church. If there had been a couple more scenes like that in the movie, it would of been thought of a lot better today. That's my only criticism. Apart from those three scenes, you don't see that much more of Dracula. Wish they had shot more scenes that were edited out. Be great to suddenly get a new 'Extended' edition! However, As far as I know they didn't. However, Stephanie Beecham is also a great looker, and she is another good reason to watch it. (And she's in it till the end!)
Those who say it shouldn't of been set in modern London, think about it. If Dracula (and vampires in general) actually existed for real, they wouldn't of just lived in Transylvania of the past. Unless someone killed them, (and Dracula always comes back) they would be here with us today. And it stands to reason they would go to big cities like London, where they could pick their prey amongst millions. Indeed, the Dracula of Bram Stokers actual novel travels to Whitby in England.
Anyway, like I said at the beginning. I love this movie. It's by far my favourite of all the Dracula films. Dark set pieces, Eerie music, Caroline Monro, Stephanie Beecham. Fantastic!
on 13 February 2007
Seeing this film again on DVD brings back fond memories as this was one of the first horror films I ever saw.
Nowadays this film seems very tame indeed (it was made before The Exorcist, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Freddy & Jason etc) but it is still a lot of fun. For starters it has a terrific cast. Christopher Lee is of course Count Dracula and Peter Cushing plays Lorimar Van Helsing, a modern day descendant of Lawrence Van Helsing. The Hammer Glamour is mainly provided by Stephanie Beacham (as Lorimar Van Helsing's grand daughter, Jessica) and the amazing Caroline Munro.
The movie begins with an all-action prologue with Lawrence Van Helsing (also played by Cushing) battling Dracula onboard a speeding horse-drawn coach in Hyde Park. The coach eventually crashes and Dracula is impaled on the spokes of a broken wheel (ouch!!!). Van Helsing also dies but not until he has witnessed the evil Count (no Carry On-Style gag intended there) reduced to a pile of dust. However, someone else has also witnessed the Count's demise...
The opening credits roll and we are then transported 100 years forward to the present day (well 1972, anyway). Dracula is resurrected by one of his disciples Johnny Alucard (hmmm... I wonder what you get if you spell that surname backwards?) in a black mass ceremony involving lots of blood and Dracula then sets out to wreak revenge on the Van Helsings by planning to make Jessica his vampire bride.
There are some wonderful set pieces in this film - the opening sequence is very well done and the showdown between Lorimar Van Helsing and Johnny Alucard is memorable. I have to say though that Dracula is dispatched quite easily at the film's climax (something which is not uncommon in the Hammer Dracula films) but before this happens Cushing and Lee at least get to indulge in a battle of wits with Cushing using a variety of "weapons" against the Count.
I know some Hammer fans are not over-enthusiastic about this film but I have always found it very enjoyable and it is good to see this film released on DVD.
For reasons known only to the author, Bram Stoker's Dracula never included the line "Sergeant, I'll bet you a pound to a pinch of s**t that there's a little piece of hash at that party, and if there is, I've got them.", but the early 70s saw that particular oversight put right. Dracula A.D. 1972 saw Hammer trying to pump new life into the old Count with a new creative team whose big idea was basically to rehash the plot of Taste the Blood of Dracula in the 1970s with Christopher Neame in the Ralph Bates role as Johnny Alucard, here conning a thrill-seeking group of with it kids (Michael Kitchen and Caroline Munro among them) into making a date with the Devil with a Black Mass at the deconsecrated church that not only holds Lawrence Van Helsing's body (Lawrence? Whatever happened to Abraham?) and Dracula's ashes. "Okay, okay. But if we do get to summon up the big daddy with the horns and the tail, he gets to bring his own liquor, his own bird and his own pot."
As with the Godzilla films, the main attraction is kept off the screen for most of the running time - top-billed Christopher Lee's role is probably smaller in this than any other in the series, four brief scenes probably totalling no more than ten minutes. Worse still, looking more like Peter Sellers than Transylvanian aristocracy, he brings nothing except continuity to the part: he does what is asked of him with professionalism, but that's about it. Instead the bulk of the film is carried by Neame's Malcolm McDowell wannabe, second-billed Peter Cushing as Van Helsing's grandson Lorimar, Stephanie Beacham and Michael Coles' open-minded cop ("There is a Satan." "Of course. Otherwise we wouldn't need a police force, would we?"). Yet despite the clumsily handled prologue and finale it's fairly entertaining even if it is completely derivative, perhaps even more entertaining now than when it was released because its hip and happening trappings are far funnier than the intentional comic relief - not least Johnny Alucard urging "Dig the music, kids!" during the black mass - and it's a lot better than Dracula 2000.
The DVD also includes the wonderfully over the top trailer - "Are you ready? He's ready. He's waiting to freak you out - right out of this world!" - but not the short making of documentary from when the picture was still called Dracula Today (other rejected titles included Dracula Chases the Mini Girls and Dracula Chelsea '72!).
I couldn't give this 4 stars. However I hadn't seen the film for decades and as a long standing fan of Hammmer films I purchased it, more as a way of completing my set of Hammer Dracula films.
But this was a surprise. Very much more entertaining than I remember and whilst its hardly an art film (OK not all!) it is actally far better filmed than I remembered from previous viewings. Its helped no end by the return of Peter Cushing. Taste the Blood of Dracula and Scars of Dracula in particular suffer badly in comparison because of his absence. Christopher Lee is also given a little more to do in this film, and the scene in the church where he first appears is perhaps the films high point.
It is a film of its time (or a little earlier as the Amazon reviewer points out) and that in itself is interesting. The fashions and cars on display will amaze some of the younger generation.
So overall this is worth getting if its cheap. Its not in the same class as the first of the Hammer Draculas and the first two sequels are both better, but it is fun and interesting to watch.
*** SPOILER ALERT*** Dracula has risen from the grave once again in this wonderful adaptation from the Dracula series, and once again the hammer sets are just amazing and Christopher lee is by far the best Dracula since Bella Lugosi. But my all time best hammer actor is Peter Cushing, what a true legend, it did not matter what film he did or how bad it was he put his heart and soul into every role he did.
The film is based in 1972 many years since the death of Dracula, their is a group of hip teenagers who meet up for weekly drinks and kicks, but then one of the group who is wonderfully called Johnny Alucard(spell Alucard backwords) suggests a ritual in a creepy church(great hammer set)but his acts are truly evil when he needs a young girl/boy to feed Dracula who has just been raised from the grave due to his ritual. What I love about this film is, it's not just Peter Cushing trying to kill Dracula, he has help from the police, this is a truly great hammer horror, with a wonderful score and screenplay.
The best death in this film is when Johnny Alucard dies in the bath with a great fight scene, I mean it was a combination of running water and sun light, not the best way for a vampire to die. Hopefully there will be a Blu-ray release soon.
on 7 February 2011
Many reviews of this film complain about telling the Dracula story in (what was then) the present, saying that this story belongs in some distant past setting. This is exactly the same criticism that was levelled against Stoker's book when it was first published. He too had put Dracula in modern day London, and the critics didn't like it then either.
Sticking with Stoker's novel, the epilogue is an excerpt from Harker's journal saying that they would not tell the world their story, but keep all the journals in the safe until Mina's child was old enough to read them. So every Dracula film where everyone has heard of Dracula, and immediately knows how to fight off a vampire is totally going against Stoker's story. Only this film stays true to the original book, nobody knows who Dracula is, or even what vampires are. Even Alucard's name (so obvious to us) would not have been at all obvious in a world where the name Dracula was not known.
So, that's two reasons that this could be considered the film that is most faithful to Stoker's original vision.
There are other things to like in there too, Cushing and Lee reunited, Stephanie Beacham, the beautiful Caroline Munro, the excellent Stoneground (two of their CDs are available here on Amazon) Christopher Neame,
and did I mention Caroline Munro? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
And then there's the plot, which is often referred to as weak and formulaic, but I would argue that in the context of the time, it was in fact a very brave and edgy plot. It goes like this...
There's a bunch of easy going, happy go lucky hippies, then one charismatic man becomes their leader, and corrupts them so entirely that they become the epitome of evil, filled with unspeakable bloodlust.
To make a film with that plot, so soon after the Manson family shocked the world, I think deserves much more praise than it gets.
All in all, a great little film, far closer to Stoker's original vision than many others, fun, entertaining, and deserving of a better reputation than it has.
on 30 June 2013
Some Hammer purists dislike the modern setting of this late entry in the Dracula series. I personally have no problem with it, in fact no more problem than the so-called 'Carpathian' settings of previous films which more accurately resemble the Black Forest and/or some tourist orientated bier keller in Munich. Having said that, the script is appallingly stilted in places with 'right-on' dialogue clearly written by someone not grooving with the cool kids. If you can block this out - or, at least, go along with the ride and find it amusing - there is a very enjoyable little film trying to break out. Hammer films are not supposed to be taken seriously and there's much to enjoy here: another great performance from Cushing, good acting from most of the other cast members (especially Stephanie Beacham), the gorgeous Caroline Munro, some colourful visuals and very well-framed cinematography. I watched it the day after 'Scars of Dracula' and this film is better in every department.
on 5 July 2010
One of the weakest entries next to SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA, there's an unnecessarily prolonged 70s party scene and a black mass at the beginning, which reflect on the film's greatest weakness: pacing.
Christopher Lee reprises his role as the king of vampires, Dracula, and if it wasn't for him this would be a 1-star only film. To me Lee is the ultimate Dracula actor of all times.
Peter Cushing also reprises his role as Van Helsing (although a descendant of the Van Helsing of the 1958 original), also playing his role very well.
Also staring the beautiful Caroline Munro in a very short role and Stephanie Beacham as Jessica Van Helsing, Cushing's on-screen granddaughter.
I did not care for Christopher Neame, who plays Dracula's servant, and is given too much screen time. His performance reminded me of a poor attempt to copy A CLOCKWORK ORANGE's Malcolm McDowell, just without his class.
Directed by Alan Gibson (THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA). Written by Don Houghton. I am not satisfied with both their work here, especially the writing.
Reviving Dracula in a black mass is done in pretty much the same way as in TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA: Ralph Bates' role of Lord Courtley now played by Christopher Neame and renamed Johnny Alucard, a poor copycat effort by the writer.
Dracula's scenes take place almost entirely in and around an old church, the best set the film has to offer, while most of the movie takes place in 70s "Swinging" London. I did not care at all for this new setting.
A rushed but otherwise halfway descent finale doesn't save the film either from being mediocre at best, despite it's great cast. I preferred the far superior SCARS OF DRACULA and the first 4 movies (including BRIDES OF DRACULA) to this. Still better than many of today's offerings (yes, TWILIGHT, I'm talking about you!)
3.0 OUT OF 5.0 STARS
Reviewed version: 2005 Warner Bros. UK DVD
Feature running time: 92 mins. (uncut)
Rating: PG (MPAA) / 15 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 / 16:9 (anamorphic)
Audio: English, French, Italian (all 1.0 mono)
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, English for the Hearing Impaired, Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Extras: Theatrical Trailer
Extras: Only the theatrical trailer (F)
Some 14 years and five sequels on from `The Horror of Dracula', the original and best Hammer film starring Christopher Lee as the anaemic Count and Peter Cushing as his stake wielding nemesis Van Helsing, comes this rather interesting attempt at reviving the ailing series.
Following from the success of the original film, a whole series of sequels followed. The quality got steadily worse, until the absolute nadir was reached with camp and terrible `The Scars of Dracula', which preceded this film. None of the films repeated the pairing of Lee and Cushing, until this one.
Deciding to try and recapture some of the old magic, and trying to take the series in a new direction, the producers brought back the classic double act of Lee and Cushing, and took the brave decision to update the series from the eighteenth century Gothic settings that had made Hammer's name, and set it in contemporary London.
Largely, it works well. Dracula is an undead being, with unlimited lifespan, so why not? The presence of Van Helsing 100 years after his last appearance is easily and believably explained by his being the grandson of the original. Lee and Cushing are both, as usual, excellent value for money, and in their scenes together the old magic does show through a bit. Stephanie Beecham is pretty good as Van Helsing's granddaughter, who is unwittingly involved in the resurrection of you know who, and becomes the target of his vengeance on the Van Helsing line. And Michael Cole is excellent as the police officer investigating a series of strange killings in which all of the victim's blood has been drained from their bodies - sound familiar to anyone?
The bad points are that the depictions of `Swinging London' have dated terribly, and some of the actors playing the thrill seeking young people are a bit wooden. And Johnny Alucard's name isn't exactly a subtle clue...
In general, this is exactly what the producers had intended - 90 minutes of entertaining fun. It's always interesting seeing how Hammer are going to bring back the fanged one this time, and the scenes are nicely built up and well done here. The general plot is quite good, and certain scenes, especially Alucard's destruction, are highly entertaining. Not quite as good as the original, but not a bad attempt.
This DVD presents the film in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, with a mono soundtrack. The print has not undergone any restoration, but nonetheless is pretty good with a minimum of artefacts. DVD extras are sparse, consisting of the original theatrical trailer.
Recommended to any fans of the genre - just don't be put off by the very dated feel of contemporary London.
I flat out apologise in advance for this review, but the BEST thing about Dracula A.D. 1972 is, frankly, the awe inspiring sight of the lovley Miss Beachams heaving cleavage in a variety of skimpy/see through tops. Yes, it's sexist, I'm sorry (sort of) but Hammer made a habit of 'this sort of thing' and obviously my low brow expectations were well and truly met. Of course, the equally lovely Caroline Munroe is in the mix as well, but she's dispatched rather early but not before having copious amounts of blood spilt over her - you guessed it - heaving cleavage.
Despite being rather 'cleavage heavy' (no pun intended) A.D. 1972 perversely works rather well even though it is stupid to the point of absurdity. 'Groovy' kids, led by Johnny Alucard, raise Dracula in a bizarre ritual of music you can dig and 70's (60's surely?) trippy, drug induced hypnosis in which everbody gets a little hot under the collar and - shock! - two people kiss! Ah well, the good Count is back from the dead and it is up to Lorimar Van Helsing to assist the Bluebottles in solving a spree of mutilations across..er..Chelsea.
The fact that this movie is exactly the same as every other Dracula film produced by Hammer means familiarity breeds contempt. Christopher Lee's Dracula is a lazy Count, doing little and striking enigmatic poses in his gothic church as Alucard and his cronies attempt to capture Van Helsing's granddaughter (luckily, the ever heaving Miss Beacham again!) so Dracula can kill her. Not much of a plot, sure, but the actual saving grace of the film is the casting of Peter Cushing and - incredibly - the 70's backdrop.
The film is well shot, pacy, quite well acted and has a few moments of bright red blood spurting fun before the inevitable cross disolve/back to ashes climax (Dracula fans will know what I mean). So NOT the utter disaster I was expecting, but just more of the same.