Taste the Blood of Dracula

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Taste the Blood of Dracula
Taste the blood of dracula.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Produced by Aida Young
Written by Anthony Hinds
Bram Stoker (character)
Starring Christopher Lee
Geoffrey Keen
Gwen Watford
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Edited by Chris Barnes
Production
company
Distributed by Warner-Pathé (UK)
Warner Bros. (US & Worldwide)
Release date
  • 7 May 1970 (1970-05-07) (UK)
Running time
91 min (cut, US)
95 min (uncut, UK)
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Taste the Blood of Dracula is a 1970 British horror film produced by Hammer Film Productions. It stars Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, and was directed by Peter Sasdy based upon a script by Anthony Hinds. The film was released as a double bill alongside fellow Hammer production Crescendo.

It was the fifth entry in Hammer's Dracula series, and the fourth to feature Christopher Lee as the titular vampire.

Storyline[edit]

Prologue[edit]

A businessman named Weller is travelling through Eastern Europe when he is thrown from his carriage during a struggle and knocked unconscious. After regaining consciousness, he discovers it is night time. After wandering some way, he hears a deathly scream. Terrified, Weller runs and falls into a grassy slope. Looking up, he sees a caped figure screaming in agony with a large crucifix impaling him from the back. Weller watches in amazement and fear as the figure dies and disintegrates from blood to reddish dust. Examining the remains, Weller finds a ring, a cape and a brooch with dried blood on it. Dusting away the dried blood, Weller is petrified by the name on the brooch: Dracula.

Plot[edit]

Three gentlemen - William Hargood, Samuel Paxton and Jonathon Secker - have formed a circle ostensibly devoted to charitable work but in reality they indulge themselves in brothels. One night they are intrigued by a young man who bursts into the brothel and is immediately tended to after snapping his fingers, despite the brothelkeeper's objections. The gentlemen are informed that he is Lord Courtley, who was disinherited by his father for celebrating a Black Mass years ago.

Hoping for more intense pleasures, Hargood meets Courtley outside the brothel. The younger man takes the three to the Cafe Royal and promises them experiences they will never forget but insists that they go to see Weller and purchase from him Dracula's ring, cloak and dried blood. Having done so, the three meet with Courtley at an abandoned church for a ceremony during which he puts the dried blood into goblets and mixes it with drops of his own blood, telling the men to drink. They refuse, so he drinks the blood himself, screams and falls to the ground. As he grabs for Hargood's legs, all three gentlemen kick and beat him, not stopping until Courtley dies, at which they flee. While they return to their respective homes and their normal lives, Courtley's body, left in the abandoned church, transforms into Dracula, who vows that those who have destroyed his servant will be destroyed.

Dracula begins his revenge with Hargood, who has begun to drink heavily and also treats his daughter Alice harshly, furious that she continues to see Paul, Paxton's son. Dracula takes control of Alice's mind via hypnosis and as her drunken father chases after her, she picks up a shovel and kills him. The next day, Hargood is found dead and Alice is missing. The police inspector in charge of the case refuses to investigate Alice's disappearance, citing a lack of time and resources.

At her father's funeral, Alice hides behind bushes and attracts the attention of Paul's sister Lucy, telling her to meet her that night. They enter the abandoned church where Alice introduces her to a dark figure. Lucy assumes him to be Alice's lover but she is greeted by Dracula, who turns her into a vampire.

With Hargood dead and Alice and Lucy missing, Paxton fears that Courtley is exacting revenge and, together with Secker, visits the abandoned church to check for Courtley's corpse. The body is missing but they discover Lucy asleep in a coffin with marks on her throat. Secker realizes she is a vampire and tries to stake her, but Paxton shoots him in the arm, forcing him to flee. While Secker stumbles his way home, Paxton weeps over his daughter's body. When he finally develops the courage to stake Lucy himself, she awakens, and Dracula appears. Alice pins Paxton down and Lucy drives a wooden stake through his chest.

That night, Secker's son Jeremy sees Lucy, his fiance, at his window and comes down to see her. She sinks her fangs into his throat, enslaving him while Dracula watches. The vampire Jeremy then stabs his father on Lucy's orders. On the way back to the church, Lucy begs for Dracula's approval but instead he drains her dry and leaves her destroyed. Back at the church, he prepares to bite Alice but a cock crows and he returns to his coffin.

Secker's body causes Jeremy's arrest. The police inspector assumes that he hated his father and stabbed him in a rage. Paul disagrees but the inspector refuses to listen. He hands Paul a letter - "the ramblings of a lunatic" he calls it - in which Secker instructs Paul on how to fight the vampires.

Following Secker's instructions, Paul makes his way to the abandoned church. He finds Lucy's exsanguinated body en route, floating in a lake. At the church he bars the door with a large cross and clears the altar of Black Mass instruments, replacing them with the proper materials. He calls for Alice, who appears together with Dracula. Paul confronts Dracula with a cross but Alice, still entranced, disarms him. She seeks Dracula's approval but he dismisses her. He tries to leave but is prevented by the cross barring the door. His retreat is also barred by a cross which an angry and disappointed Alice threw to the floor. Dracula climbs the balcony and throws objects at Paul and Alice, before backing into a stained glass window depicting a cross. He breaks the glass but suddenly sees the changed surroundings and hears the Lord's Prayer recited in Latin. Dazzled and overwhelmed by the power of the newly re-sanctified church, Dracula falls to the altar, and dissolves back into bloody dust. With the vampire destroyed, Paul and Alice leave.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

  • Taste the Blood of Dracula was originally written without Dracula appearing at all.[1] With Christopher Lee's increasing reluctance to reprise the role, Hammer intended to replace Lee and Dracula in the franchise with the Lord Courtley character played by Ralph Bates, who would rise as a vampire after his death and seek revenge on Hargood, Paxton, and Secker. Hammer's American distributor refused to release the film without Dracula appearing, prompting Hammer to convince Lee to return, with Dracula replacing the resurrected Courtley.[1][2][3]
  • The scenes of the gentlemen's visit to the local brothel were heavily edited on the film's original release. They are fully re-instated on the DVD release.
  • In its original United States release, it was rated GP (General audience, Parental guidance suggested—the forerunner to today's PG), but when it was re-released to DVD it was rated R for sexual content/nudity and brief violence.
  • An alternate version of the scene where Lucy bites Jeremy was filmed, with the young man actually becoming a vampire. This scene was not used, possibly to avoid complicating the plot further with the introduction of another vampire.

Critical reception[edit]

Variety wrote that director Peter Sasdy had directed his first feature film "effectively, leavening stock situations with the occasional shock twist, and has kept the Dracula pix atmosphere well." The review noted that "Christopher Lee can now play Dracula in his sleep and, in this pic, looks occasionally as if he is doing so."[4] The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "absolutely routine Hammer horror, except that the script is even more laboured than usual. Dracula himself is virtually reduced to an onlooker while the happy families decimate each other at his behest, and the only moment of inspiration is when a would-be vampire stalker is himself staked by two gleeful vampires."[5] John C. Mahoney of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film was "superior in production, performance, story and atmosphere to the recent 'Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.' In the title role, Christopher Lee seems to take new interest in the role with a terrifyingly bloodshot performance."[6]

The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films called the film "the finest genuine Dracula sequel in the entire [Hammer Dracula] series."[7] It currently holds a positive 67% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews.[8]

DVD and Blu-Ray release[edit]

On 6 November 2007 the movie was released in a film pack along with Dracula, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, and Dracula A.D. 1972.[9]

On 6 October 2015 the movie was released on a Hammer collection pack on Blu-ray with Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, and The Mummy (1959 film). It was also released on Blu-ray separately.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Meikle, Denis; Koetting, Christopher T. (2009). A History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer. Plymouth: Scarecrow Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0-8108-6353-8. OCLC 236117422. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  3. ^ "Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction & Halloween Events in Los Angeles". Hollywood Gothique. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  4. ^ "Taste The Blood of Dracula". Variety: 26. May 20, 1970. 
  5. ^ "Taste The Blood Of Dracula". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (437): 132. June 1970. 
  6. ^ Mahoney, John C. (September 24, 1970) "Double Helping of Horror". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 12.
  7. ^ Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 131.
  8. ^ "Taste the Blood of Dracula". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 31, 2018. 
  9. ^ Christopher Lee (Actor), Peter Cushing (Actor) (2007). 4 Film Favorites: Draculas (Dracula A.D. 1972, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Horror of Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula) [4 Film Favorites: Draculas] (DVD Motion Picture). Burbank, California: Warner Home Video. ASIN B000U1ZV7G. ISBN 9781419859076. OCLC 801718535. 
Sources
  • Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (25 September 2007). "Taste the Blood of Dracula". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films [The Hammer Story] (Limited ed.). Titan Books. p. 192. ISBN 978-1845761851. OCLC 493684031. 

External links[edit]