This is it. We have arrived at the last week of my Hammer horror film spotlight. Halloween will be upon us tomorrow. October has flown by faster than a witch on a broomstick. So, without further ado, I give you the last film in my Hammer spotlight. It’s the counterculture Dracula movie I never knew I needed. That’s right. My final selection this month is Dracula A.D. 1972.
Let’s cut straight to the chase and discuss the plot. It involves Dracula being resurrected via a séance in swing 1972 London and the Dracula’s quest to wipe out the descendants of Professor Van Helsing.
In London 1872 – the final battle between Lawrence van Helsing and Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) on top of a coach results in Dracula dying from a stake made from the remains of a wooden wheel. Lawrence dies from his wounds and, as he is buried, a servant of Dracula buries the remains of the stake by the grave and keeps a bottle of Dracula’s ashes and the ring. One hundred years later, the colourful 1972, Johnny (Christopher Neame), the great-grandson of the servant joins up with a “group” containing Jessica (Stephanie Beacham), the grand-daughter of the present vampire hunter, Abraham van Helsing and with their unknowing help resurrect Dracula in the 20th Century who is determined to destroy the house of Van Helsing, but who can believe that The king of the Vampires really exists and is alive – in 20th Century London?–IMDB
It should be noted that Lorrimer Van Helsing, the family descendant of Lawrence Van Helsing, is played by Peter Cushing. Mr. Cushing was destined to play a vampire hunter on-screen and constantly battle Christopher Lee. And as a Hammer fan I wouldn’t have it any other way. Two of Britain’s greatest actors gave us great entertainment when they appeared on screen together multiple times.
Dracula A.D. 1972 is ridiculous even by vampire movie standards. The idea of him being resurrected by swingers in London is just ludicrous. But the reason this film works for me is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Right after we get through the traditional Hammer Dracula opening with him being killed near a creepy castle, there’s a swift change in tone. All the sudden we here 70s disco music. At that point I half expected Blacula to show up. Side note: see Blacula if you haven’t. It has to be seen to be believed. But then, so does Dracula A.D. 1972. But I digress.
This film is just a hoot. The séance scene alone makes it worth seeing. It’s gloriously over-acted and overdone with overly dramatic music and satanic imagery. If you need a good chuckle, this is your movie.
The real reason to see Dracula A.D. 1972 though is when Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing battle it out in the end. Even amidst a preposterous story line, cheesy 1970s music and questionable fashion statements, these two horror icons put on an entertaining third act. The payoff of the film makes up for the camp of the first two.
Dracula A.D. 1972 is campy, overdone, and it’s one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve ever had watching a cheesy horror flick. Today the multiplex is plagued with unnecessary sequels and remakes. While Dracula A.D. 1972 is no award-worthy masterpiece, you have to admire it on some level because it dares to have an original story idea.