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  Dracula A.D. 1972 Fang Up To DateBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: Alan Gibson
Stars: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Stephanie Beacham, Christopher Neame, Michael Coles, Marsha A. Hunt, Caroline Munro, Janet Key, William Ellis, Philip Miller, Michael Kitchen, David Andrews, Lally Bowers
Genre: Horror
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: The year is 1872 and two mortal enemies are locked in their final combat. Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) and Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) struggle on top of a carriage that hurtles through the dusk until the runaway horses break free and the carriage is sent smashing into a tree. Van Helsing is thrown clear but is too badly injured to survive, and with his last breaths rattling in his chest he pulls himself over to the wreckage to make sure Dracula has been destroyed. But not quite, as the Count emerges with a broken cartwheel plunged into his heart. Summoning up one final burst of energy, the Professor buries the spoke deep enough to destroy his foe once and for all, then expires. But what if Dracula was able to return yet again?

What indeed, as the outcome of this sequel shows that the more than a little bitter Count would seek revenge, apparently oblivious to the fact that if he hadn't bothered his modern day plans would have proceeded somewhat better. I say modern day, but even in 1972 the film must have appeared out of date and with its desperate attempts to get down with the kids it resembles a past his prime partygoer trying to prove he can still cut it on the dancefloor before collapsing in an exhausted heap at the end of the night. Scripted by Don Houghton, as the last three Hammer Dracula movies were, it nevertheless provides entertainment in these days of the unimaginably far off future, if only for the wrong reasons.

Considering the title, you might anticipate the famed bloodsucker gallivanting around London's trendy nightclubs, picking up disciples and picking off victims, but Lee hardly appears much until the very end. Cushing fares a little better, and the general effect is that of the older generation - much older, in Cushing's case - patronising the younger with an awful warning of what can happen if you let your high spirits get out of control. A phial of Drac dust has been retained down the years, and now it's in the hands of a fellow named Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame relishing his role to an ridiculous degree), along with a silver ring, and he is about to try a resurrection with the help of his friends.

Once the prologue is over with, we're introduced to the young people who have gatecrashed a posh party to hear their favourite group, a light bluesy outfit called Stoneground (playing themselves). As the hippies groove to the far out sounds of "Alligator Man" the police are on their way, but such thrills are not enough for Johnny Spell-His-Name-Backwards-For-A-Surprise and he arranges a black mass for the following night. He wants to get his hands on a certain Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham sporting two hairdos at once), the descendant of you-know-who, and believes the black arts will assist him in his nefarious schemes, Satanism being the in thing for any respectable horror movie of the seventies.

What actually transpires is that they resurrect the Count during their ceremony, who drains Caroline Munro of blood and leaves her for dead. The others are oblivious to this having fled the scene soon after Johnny's own sacrificial blood started to flow, and the first Jessica learns of her friend's demise is when the police - sorry, the "fuzz" - arrive at the home she shares with her professor grandfather (Cushing again) asking questions. It's not long before Johnny is converting and offering his pals to Dracula, and Van Helsing is hot on the vampire's trail, which isn't much of a trail as he never leaves the church he was brought back to undead life in. Take away its achingly trendy, and farcically out of touch, trappings and Dracula A.D. 1972 is pretty straightforward with not much to recommend it other than to connoisseurs of kitsch. Still, in some ways Hammer's flailings in the seventies as they reached their effective end game can be more interesting than the films of their heyday. Music by Michael Vickers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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