Friday, October 22, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 22 - Movie 2

The much maligned Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) is not nearly as bad as it's made out to be, but it is still a weak entry in the series. The film begins with a prologue set in 1872 in which Dracula (Christopher Lee) is killed by Lawrence Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) who dies of injuries sustained in battle, Dracula's ashes are taken away by one of his disciples, some of which are buried in a desecrated area of a church cemetery, and some of which are kept by the disciple. One hundred years later a group of "fringe" teenagers looking for kicks goes along with new member Johnny Alucard's (Christopher Neame) idea of holding a black mass in the ruins of a church. Using his own blood, Johnny reactivates the ashes, and resurrects Dracula who has his heart set on revenge against the Van Helsing family. Dracula and Johnny prey on the members of the group which includes Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham) great granddaughter of the Van Haelsing from the prologue, and granddaughter of the current Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) whose biggest battle this time isn't the vampires, but convincing modern day policemen that vampires are real.

This movie recycles the plot of Taste the Blood of Dracula only this time substituting groovy teens for uptight gentlemen. This movie has a good cast, and Johnny Alucard proves to be an interesting disciple (though it's not clear if he's the same person from the prologue who rescued Dracula's remains) and actually manages to get what no other human disciple has, immortality as a vampire himself. It's nice to see Peter Cushing as Van Helsing again, though he acts and seems out of place in this movie, and I'd rather have seen him return in one of the gothic period piece Dracula's. His granddaughter, Jessica is liekable, though their relationship seemed too distant for the needs of the story. Dracula is a pretty weak character in this one, skulking in the shadows while wannabe upstart, Johnny carries out all of his work. Both the prologue scene, and climactic encounter between Dracula and van Helsing are pretty lackluster and Dracula falls to the most mundane deaths yet, though he gets a pretty spectacular disolvement. Better is Van Helsing's encounter with vampire Johnny Alucard, though this is also a rather uninspired battle.

What really hurts this movie, besides the awful score, is that it feels like Hammer's heart just wasn't in making this entry in the series. Like Dracula's disciples, this series feels dead and Hammer just can't leave well enough alone.

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