Blu-ray Review: Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

November 28, 2018

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Warner Brothers have just unleashed a real terror treat for fang bangers everywhere; a duo of discs starring that demonic Dracula and his vampire hordes courtesy of the haunted Hammer House of Horror! So let’s grab a slice or two of extra garlic pizza and give Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula a wicked whirl!
Dracula A.D. 1972 begins with Dracula (Christopher Lee) dying at the hands (spokes?) of a wagon wheel in the 1800’s (trust me, it plays out waaay better than it reads). Flash forward to ultra-mod London in the year 1972 where hip scenster cum Occultist Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) gets the shit-hot idea to perform a ritual with his chums in a deconsecrated church in the hopes of giving rise to the Devil himself, but he instead conjurs up ol’ Drac-Attack! What Johnny doesn’t know however is that his pal Jessica (Stephanie Beacham) and her grandfather Lorrimer (Peter Cushing) are part of a dynasty of vampire hunters (of the lineage of Van Helsing ‘natch) which could prove helpful as Big D goes about draining veins and makin’ more vicious vamps with wild abandon!
I straight up adore Dracula A.D. 1972 and always have! The entire production is such a slap-dash mix of wild fashions, groovy funk and folk music, ’70’s Occultism, vampire tropes, trippy lighting…there really isn’t anything quite like it in Hammer’s oeuvre, or anywhere else. The filmmakers obviously wanted to attract a more modern, teenage crowd with this entry, as their traditional Gothic pot-boilers were perceived as  growing long in the tooth (pun always intended) by the early ’70’s…but this was one deliciously ham-fisted way to go about incorporating anything and everything that “the kids are into” by folks that definitely were far removed from youth culture. In the end we are left with a vastly entertaining, visually stimulating, comic book style horror romp that is simply impossible to resist in both it’s campy charm and creepy/cool characters (and the always top shelf performances from Lee and Cushing don’t hurt either)!
As for extras on this release we are presented with nothing more than the film’s trailer…but the insanity of the feature, coupled with the beautiful transfer are enough for your’s cruelly!


Next we have:
The Satanic Rites of Dracula, which begins with an amazing credits sequence; all bombastic score and scenes of London…scenes which grow ever darker as Dracula’s shadow grows (plus this slice of awesome follows the Saul Bass version of the Warner Brothers logo which is my personal fav studio logo if you’re keepin’ track at home).
Following that we begin the story proper: It seems sinister Satanic sister Chin Yang (Barbara Yu Ling) is runnin’ a Devil cult comprised of many prominent London citizens. Of course ol’ Dracula is behind the cults end-times machinations, so it is fortuitous that the Secret Service, who have been investigating the cult, call in Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), who along with his granddaughter Jessica (this time played by Ab Fab‘s (Joanna Lumley) discovers a plot that involves cellars full of female vampire thralls, bubonic plague, and Dracula’s shockingly morbid end game!
As with Dracula A.D. 1972The Satanic Rites of Dracula is a full on product of the ’70’s, though this time the surreal youth culture elements are dropped and are replaced with even more of that wonderful comic book style Occultism that made supernatural stories of the time so damn irresistible and over-the-top! You have a Devil cult, naked human sacrifices, lascivious vampiric vixens, Dracula posing as the C.E.O. of a company…and you can bet I lapped up every drop of this magnificent weirdness like a black cat drinkin’ goats milk!The only negative with the whole affair is that this marked the end of the Hammer/Christopher Lee Dracula films, and I wanted so many more in this crazed style of horror meets sci-fi spy thriller!
Exactly like the Dracula A.D. 1972 release, this Blu-ray contains only the film’s trailer as a bonus feature…and also like the previous title it boasts a beautiful transfer that makes all of the shadows suitably dark, and the lurid color a real treat for your putrid peepers (never more so than during the flicks hellish fiery finale)!
I know that some Hammer fans balk at these later entries in the series, but for my monstrous money Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula will always be my favs; the characters were far out, the acting top notch, and the blend of the Gothic with the mod just works like ghoulish gangbusters for yours cruelly!



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