October 30, 2013
Movie Night: The Satanic Rites of Dracula.
Review #477: The Satanic Rites of Dracula.
Christopher Lee (Count Dracula), Peter Cushing (Lorrimer Van Helsing), Michael Coles (Inspector Murray), William Franklyn (Peter Torrence), Joanna Lumley (Jessica Van Helsing), and Richard Vernon (Colonel Mathews) Directed by Alan Gibson.
The original title for the film was Dracula is Dead... and Well and Living in London, which isn't actually the silliest film title I've ever heard of (That honor goes to the movie "?"), but they thankfully changed the title, which while random, is at least less silly. Christopher Lee is once again Dracula, and Peter Cushing is back as Van Helsing (though he did previously play the role in Dracula A.D. 1972, which I haven't touched upon yet, unless you count Brides of Dracula, which I...don't.), so the movie has that going for it. The rest of the film...well, let me get into it slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for Helsing to show up, but in the meantime...I don't really know what happens, some sort of ritual and emotionless conversation. But at least Dracula returns...30 minutes in, and right the heck out of nowhere, but I suppose with this film, you take what you get. And dear lords of time does this film take forever, it takes an hour for Lee and Cushing to finally meet, the parts beforehand are just talking, and sometimes action, but little Dracula. And then finally Dracula reveals his plan, which is either the most ridiculous plan ever devised by Dracula or the most outrageously awesome plan. The plan is (I'll color the text differently, just scroll over it to see for yourself) basically this:
Dracula is devising a serum that combined with four carriers...will plague the Earth in a bubonic plague, apparently killing millions being the main goal.
Basically, Dracula becomes a Bond villain, made ironic by the fact Christopher Lee did play a Bond villain, and his plan in that movie was ridiculous as well. Cushing is alright in this film, Cushing seems to do well in nearly every film he is in, even if some of the time he's reiterating the rules of killing a vampire. Lee does a fine job as well, hamming it up near the end. The rest of the actors and characters are mostly forgettable, though vampire movies seem to have only two memorable characters: The main hero and the vampire, so okay then. The film's main problem is a lack of scare. It has endless scenes of dialogue, a general lack of Dracula, gore overriding actual fright, running so short at 90 minutes yet feeling like an eternity, and the film's final nail in the coffin: It's a sad way to end the Hammer Dracula franchise, with the first (#258 - Dracula (1958)) being a masterpiece, and this...not. Maybe in the future I'll get to the other films in the Dracula franchise, but I have one more film to face, and it'll be a dark and mostly cloudy Halloween night...
Overall, I give it 4 out of 10 stars.