Dracula A.D. 1972
February 7, 2006
After the success of Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), Hammer Studios decided to revive the Dracula mythos that had been so successful for them in the past by attempting to update the Count by transporting him into the swinging London of 1970s. Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) would also mark a classic reuniting of Christopher Lee as Dracula (his sixth time playing the role) and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing.
Johnny Alucard (Neame) is a restless soul looking for “something new and yet as old as time itself,” and proposes to stage a ritual to summon the Devil with a group of swingers he hangs out with. One their members, Jessica (Beacham), just so happens to have a grandfather who is a descendant of the vampire hunter Van Helsing (Cushing). Johnny and his friends perform the ritual and end up raising Dracula from his grave. Pretty soon the Count is up to his old ways and it’s up to Van Helsing to stop him.
Dracula A.D. 1972 portrays the Chelsea area of London as a hipster hangout for groovy vamps which means there’s the obligatory groovy party scene complete with go-go dancer and Stoneground, a Bay Area psychedelic rock group whose fame probably began and ended with this movie. Their presence instantly dates the movie but in a funky, funny way.
The dialogue has got that wonderfully cheesy B-movie vibe (“You would play your brains against mine?” Dracula says at one point) including hopelessly dated hipster slang of the times that goes well with the melodramatic atmosphere typical of Hammer horror films. To enhance this mood is a groovy lounge score that enhances the film’s action sequences and evokes other soundtracks of this era (Vampyros Lesbos and Italian Giallo movies).
The cast is pretty good with Christopher Neame chewing up the scenery as the London hipster gone bad, Stephanie Beacham as the buxom heroine and Caroline Munro flashing her cleavage all over the place, only to meet a bloody end early on at Dracula’s hands.
It’s great to see Cushing and Lee in these roles again. Cushing plays the cultured vampire hunter so well while Lee, with his piercing eyes and commanding presence, is one of the best Draculas. They would team up with director Alan Gibson one more time for the superior sequel, The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974).