October 25, 2012

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

"Johnny Alucard raises Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) from the dead in 1972 London. The Count goes after the descendants of Van Helsing."

It's hardly a secret that I prefer Hammer horror movies over absolutely anything American or European from the same time period. I grew up watching Hammer movies on TV and probably saw them all at least a dozen times each before I left school.

As much as I've wanted to like the classic Universal monster movies from the '30s and '40s, black and white has never done it for me. I like my films in colour otherwise I wouldn't have a colour TV. If there's one thing you can be sure of with a Hammer production, that's lots of colour. There are always lots of boobs and blood too which is a bonus especially in something now rated PG.

I'm sure you are so familiar with "Dracula A.D. 1972" that I don't need to go through all the rigmarole of telling you who does what to who and why. It's yet another tale of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in their famous roles as Count Dracula and Professor Van Helsing respectively but with a new angle (for the time) of being set (after a 19th century prologue) in the 1970s.

This was Hammer's attempt at modernising Dracula which worked in spite of itself and the fact that Christopher Lee really didn't want to have anything to do with it. The vampire Count isn't actually in "Dracula A.D. 1972" very much at all and only delivers about ten lines. Forget Bram Stoker's novel as much as you can because this "Dracula" is far more Hammer's invention.

Most of the action involves a gang of "young people" getting up to all sorts of mischief such as crashing parties, smoking pot, and hanging out in a coffee bar all day. I hate to use the term "hipsters" for them because that would imply that they are cool. If any of them had a brain, they'd be typical students.

Their leader, Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) is, of course, a disciple of Dracula who comes across as half Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" and half Austin Powers (before Austin Powers ever existed). I haven't posted a picture of Johnny Alucard because, to be honest, his character is so overacted that the ludicrous expressions he pulls throughout would make you think that "Dracula A.D. 1972" is a comedy when it really isn't.

Here's a nice picture of Caroline Munro about to be baptised in blood instead:

Caroline Munro only has a small but important role in the movie. Unfortunately, she doesn't get nude or turn into a vampiress which is a bit of a shame. I would have loved to have seen her sprout fangs and bite a couple of the other hot girls in the movie. Alas, it was not meant to be.

The story moves along at such a brisk pace that there's plenty of other entertainment apart from the vampirism anyway. Just looking at the sets or the clothes (or watching the background to see some of London in 1972) is quite educational. The number of "day for night" shots which nobody ever seems to pick up are rather clumsy and cause a few inconsistencies, but whatever, it's still Hammer.

The various action scenes are quite energetic and are more than adequate to tell the story. "Dracula A.D. 1972" doesn't suffer from too much talk although several scenes are unnecessary. The one where Van Helsing reverses the name of "Alucard" on a piece of paper as if it's some hugely difficult anagram springs to mind.

Although there isn't anything which you could really call character development in "Dracula A.D. 1972", the closest to it is done by the lovely Stephanie Beacham who is also, for lack of a better word, quite "pneumatic". Her boobies are the stars of the show and a lot of her screen time is devoted to semi-gratuitously showing her cleavage off in close-up. The artifice of putting crucifixes round her neck and ripping them off again twice fools no-one.

Anyway, with only 6 days left until Hallowe'en, "Dracula A.D. 1972" is the last vampire movie in my "Hallowe'en Countdown". Last year, I recommended the original Hammer "Dracula" (1958), but I now think "Dracula A.D. 1972" with Johnny Alucard's occult ritual suits the season better.

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