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The Satanic Rites of Dracula
AKA: Dracula braucht frisches Blut, Rites of Dracula, Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride, Dracula Is Alive and Well and Living in London
Dracula Is Dead... and Well and Living in London

GB, 1973, Color, 87 min
Director Alan Gibson
Screenplay Don Houghton
Photography Brian Probyn
Music John Cacavas
Christopher Lee Dracula
Peter Cushing Prof. van Helsing
Barbara Yu-Ling Chin Yang
Patrick Barr Jean
Annabella Sciorra Lord Carradine
Lockwood West General Freeborne
Joanna Lumley Jessica van Helsing

London 1974. In a manor situated in a huge park satanic rites take place. Blood is pouring, virgins are scarified and it's the upper Class of politics, industry and scientology that participate in these rites. There's only one person that can help decides Inspector Murray from Scotland Yard and rushes off to contact ... whom? Exactly, good old Professor van Helsing, who seems to be quite as indestructible as his worst rival Count Dracula.

And soon van Helsing reveals the real identity of the industrialist D. D. Denham whose face isn't known to anybody (but to whom all clues lead). He turns out to be nobody else than our favorite evil doer Count Dracula in person. And this time the Count even has most horrible plans. He wants to eliminate the entire human race with a newly developed pestilence virus.

Why exactly he plans to do this, even the script author Don Houghton doesn't seem to have figured out, probably being too busy, writing scenes in which Draculas helpers (all of whom wear waistcoats made of some kind of fur) shoot around with some high precision weapons while rarely hurting anybody. Two impaled female vampires later it's time for the big showdown in the satanic manor. Exactly at witching hour of November 23rd (!), the Sabbath of the undead (my gosh), Dracula is up to starting the annihilation of mankind. Unfortunately during the general scuffle the main computer explodes and within moments the entire manor goes up in flames. Dracula flees but becomes entangled in a whitethorn bush in the mansion's park and is once again - this time in not a quite spectacular way - impaled by van Helsing. The earth is saved. The end.

Really the end? Indeed, this is the last time the Hammer cooks serve us some warmed up infusion of an already stale soup. This movie flopped at the movie theatres just like the last of its numerous predecessors and finally marked the definite end of the Hammer era. It's not only the main character who needs fresh blood (the German title of this movie being: "Dracula needs fresh Blood"), also the production company would have badly needed it.

After a new era of the horror genre had been rung in with movies such as "the Exorcist" in the beginning of the 70s, it had become impossible to lure anybody into the cinemas with such a wretched vampire movie, even if it was loudly advertised that it contained incredible scenes of extense violence (there has been more violence in other movies earlier) and sex (well - from time to time you see some bare tits hopping across the screen).

Actually, the movie is simply bad, the plot is stupid and completely illogic, the special effects are mostly ridiculous and the bungler of a director, Alan Gibson put the movie so badly in scene that it is not even funny and therefore could have acquired some cult status among the bad taste fans. You could say that this really is Hammer's worst movie ever.

Why Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing accepted to play a role in this strip will remain a mystery for ever (or should it have been a question of money?). Well, both have played roles in some other flops earlier. Only one more time Lee put on the Dracula cape later again for (the really well-done) comedy " Dracula Pere et Fils" which was, by the way, not a Hammer production. Even if Lee has always been a fairly good actor and even had the chance to play the James Bond evil doer once ( "The man with the golden gun"), he never managed to become a super star, which was probably due to minor movies such as this one. Peter Cushing, who (such as Lee) could never get away from his horror image had his last great appearance in "Star Wars" in 1977 which made him a cult star among the fans of the saga. He died in 1994, having reached the age of 82 years.

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