The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973)

MAY 7, 2010


Even though I'm sort of tired of Dracula movies, I dug Dracula AD 1972, and thus was looking forward to The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (inexplicable US title is Count Dracula And His Vampire Bride - this is the LEAST romantic Dracula movie I've seen), as it was a direct followup (is this the first time I've watched two of the series in sequence?), plus featured the final match-up between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as Van Helsing and Dracula, respectively. Side note - I sort of wish they had switched roles for an unrelated production - would be interesting I think.

Sadly, it's not much of a Dracula movie. The big guy only appears ONCE in the film's first hour and change, which would be fine if it was some LOTR sized epic, but the movie is only 87 minutes with credits. And that one scene is just a generic "Dracula walks into the girl's chambers, bites her, and carries her away" deal. In fact, it ironically would have worked better WITHOUT this one scene, because his next appearance is treated like something of a surprise. Van Helsing takes a while to appear too, and while he has more to do, Cushing seems a bit bored this time around (maybe because they started filming practically on the day the previous film was released). Without Dracula (or some buxom brides) to fight, he's mostly just yammering with some Scotland Yard folks and listening to exposition from others.

And there's a LOT of that, because this is the most over-plotted Dracula movie I can recall. In fact, half of it is like a Bond film of sorts, with spies and assassins and such, and even an "end of the world" plot involving members of government. Not that I mind mixing things up (if anything I prefer it after 20+ Draculas) but Lee's minimal screen-time makes it feel like they had a spy script and decided to shoehorn Dracula into it right before they went into production. And when all the science stuff comes into play, I felt like I was watching a Quatermass movie (which I DO want to watch! I've only seen two of them.)

I had to laugh at one segment in which we discover (after what, six films?) that Dracula is susceptible to silver bullets, which is not often part of the vampire lore. I laughed because all I could think of was the scene in From Dusk Till Dawn where Sex Machine is convinced that silver can harm vampires too, and yet couldn't remember which movie had it. Guess he was a Hammer fan.

On the plus side, it's nice to have some sort of continuity for once, with the Scotland Yard guy returning from 1972, as well as Van Helsing's granddaughter (albeit played by a different actress). I'm still unsure when he had the necessary child that would allow for a granddaughter, but that's OK. And some of the action takes place in a building that was built over the spot Drac died in the last movie, which is kind of cool. But things like that just sort of remind me how much more interesting 1972 was, with the Dracula minions and such.

Indeed, I started thinking about what would happen if the movie was called The Satanic RIGHTS Of Dracula, in which Dracula is brought to trial for sacrificing goats and such, claiming he has the religious right to do so. They could bring Van Helsing in as a character witness, Drac could use his hypno-stare on the court stenographer... has there ever been a Dracula-based courtroom drama? Let's get on this!

The DVD I got (not the one listed below) was a horrid budget release (non-anamorphic widescreen though, a slight step up from full frame I guess) from Platinum, who felt the need to put their logo on the bottom corner every 20 minutes. It's bad enough that pay-cable channels do this now (through the whole movie), but on a stand-alone DVD that retails for about 10 bucks? Fuck you! The major networks can do whatever they want - we don't pay to watch them. Anything else should be blemish free. What's next, movie theaters showing their logo on the screen during reel breaks? Guess I shouldn't give them any ideas.

What say you?

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  1. Wow, you're workin' the fantasy baseball league of horror movies here. They both played Sherlock Holmes, if I remember correctly, but I think Cushing as Dracula and Lee as Van Helsing would have sunk because of the fact of Cushing being so much smaller than Lee. You just expect Dracula to be the tallest man in the cast, though Lugosi was not tall. Dracula in the courtroom is a wonderful idea, I think. Satan seems quite at home in the courtroom, judging from "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and "The Devil's Advocate."

  2. LOL, i love it how the trailer introduces "michael cole", then he gets hit over the head. Then the next 5 times you see him in the trailer someone else is hitting him over the head! poor bloke.

  3. As far as silver bullets in vampire lore goes, this may be of interest.

    Three years before this movie, in "House of Dark Shadows" (1970) -- the big-screen adaptation of the daytime horror soap opera (which is about to become a new movie with Johnny Depp) -- the police arm themselves with silver bullets to hunt vampire Barnabas Collins (the late Jonathan Frid), with the stipulation that the bullet has to hit him directly in the heart.

    Ultimately, the theory is never tested on Barnabas, so its inclusion in the movie seems almost pointless, although at one point the main good guy does fire a slew of them into another character who has been turned into a vampire, in a hilariously bad death scene.

    (The movie is worth checking out, both because of the impending release of the Depp film and because Frid turns in a hell of a performance, even better than Christopher Lee in many of the later Hammer efforts. Up til now, it has only been released on VHS, but supposedly a proper DVD release may finally be on the way thanks to the hoped-for resurgence in popularity from the Tim Burton film.)


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