Friday, May 7, 2010

Satanic Rites Of Dracula, The - 2.5/5

The Satanic Rites of Dracula seems to be the red headed step child of Hammer's Dracula franchise. It seems to be the film talked the least about despite the fact it again stars Christopher Lee in the title role. This film just overall has a bad aura with Hammer fans. Was it because the formula had been done to death and audiences were just sick of Dracula? I don't know but I actually eagerly awaited to see why.

Despite the Hammer's Dracula franchise being done to death, I will give the film credit as the plot is different than the previous Dracula films...perhaps too different. After a cheesy title sequence with a shadow Dracula showing up behind the cast and crew names, the film then moves to a black mass and a young women being sacrificed. An undercover cop escapes from the compound where the mass is taking place and makes his way back to the police. The police go to resident occult expert Van Helsing for help and they discover that the satanic group seems to have resurrected Dracula and Dracula plans, get this, to bring on armageddon by releasing a new strain of the bubonic plague.

Dracula destroying the world with the bubonic plague? Okay that might be a little too much of a stretch and no doubt Warner Brothers thought so as they turned down the opportunity to distribute this entry leaving Hammer to independently release it. The film actually didn't even reach the U.S. until five years after it was made with the new title Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (Despite he has no bride in the film).

What I do like about the film is that it has a gritty 70's look to it, going against the beautiful Gothic photography of the older entries. This was the era of "The French Connection" and it shows up in the movie with its style. Again this is also may turn off fans of Hammer because this definitely doesn't have the typical hammer style. The film also seems to be more bleak overall than previous films and this film also marks the first entry into the franchise to show nudity, which was quickly becoming a requirement for horror films to show in the 70's. I also respect the fact that this film kept continuity with the previous film bringing back characters and acknowledging it's story line. We fans like our continuity between films!

Overall I can see why die hard hammer fans look down upon this film. It's look and style is different from classic hammer outings not to mention it's rather "out-there" plot. However this is what I liked about the film because it was DIFFERENT. Does it make it a great Dracula film? No and it's still one of the weakest entries into the series but I did find it interesting and worth my time. Hell I might be burned at the stake by other Hammer fans for saying this but I liked this entry better than the regurgitated Dracula A.D. 1972. At least this film doesn't cram the 70's down the audiences throat!

Despite this film being the entry where Christopher Lee tossed in the cape, Dracula would return one last time in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. Why did Lee turn down the film? Well, that's a whole different story...

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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