Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dracula: A.D. 1972 ***

Dir: Alan Gibson
Hammer Studios, 1972
Stars: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Stephanie Beacham, Christopher Neame

Probably unintentionally, but who is to say, this film seems to symbolize the death of "swinging London" and has a lot of fun doing it. Part of the fun is Peter Cushing as a very visceral version of two different Van Helsings. Stephanie Beacham is his lovely and groovy granddaughter, one of a group of young mods who get their kicks from disrupting snooty parties. When that proves not enough, their de facto leader Johnny Alucard, who at once channels Alex of Clockwork Orange and prophesies Sting and Billy Corgan, and who presumably has some charismatic appeal to his mates, decides the next step is Satanic rituals. In Hammer films, Dracula and Satan are inextricably linked, even interchangeable.

They raise Drac from the dead. Drac decides to get revenge on his archenemy Van Helsing's progeny, "kneel before Zod" style, by having Van H.'s youngest descendent Jessica dress in a revealing white dress and lie on an altar, but not before first practicing on her lovely friend portrayed by Caroline Munro. This flick is fun and action packed, with much groovy scenery and costumes. Another trademark "less is more" performance by Lee and his booming voice. Only disappointment for me is the gorgeous Caroline Munro being disposed of pretty quickly and not become a seductive vamp girl as I'd hoped. As in The Spy Who Loved Me, she seems to meet her fate too soon.

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