The Satanic Rites of Dracula

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The Satanic Rites of Dracula
The Satanic Rites of Dracula poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Gibson
Produced by Roy Skeggs
Don Houghton
Written by Don Houghton
Starring Christopher Lee
Peter Cushing
Joanna Lumley
Michael Coles
Music by John Cacavas
Cinematography Brian Probyn
Edited by Chris Barnes
Warner Bros. Pictures
Hammer Film Productions
Release dates
3 November 1973
Running time
87 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office ₤223,450[1]

The Satanic Rites of Dracula is a 1973 horror film directed by Alan Gibson and produced by Hammer Film Productions. It is the eighth film in Hammer's Dracula series, and the seventh and final one to feature Christopher Lee as Dracula. The film was also the third to unite Peter Cushing as Van Helsing with Lee, following Dracula (1958) and Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972).


A Secret Service agent (Maurice O'Connell) barely escapes from an English country house, in which satanic rituals are celebrated. Before he dies of his wounds, he reveals to his superiors that four prominent members of society – a government minister, a peer, a general and a famous scientist – are involved in the cult, led by Chin Yang (Barbara Yu Ling). Photos of the four dignitaries taken by the agent are developed, and a fifth photo, apparently showing an empty doorway, is assumed to be a mistake. In order to avoid any reprisals by the minister, secret service official Colonel Mathews (Richard Vernon) calls in Scotland Yard's Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) to work on the case independently. Murray (who had appeared in the preceding Dracula film) suggests consulting noted occult expert Professor Lorrimar Van Helsing (Peter Cushing).

The cult kidnaps the Secret Service secretary Jane (Valerie Van Ost), who is later bitten by Dracula (Christopher Lee). Murray, Secret Service agent Torrence (William Franklyn) and Van Helsing's granddaughter Jessica (Joanna Lumley) arrive at the country house. They separate; Murray and Torrence investigate inside the house, where they meet Chin Yang. Jessica enters the house through the cellar, where she finds Jane chained to a wall; she is revealed to be a vampire. The ensuing commotion awakens other female vampires who are likewise imprisoned, but they attempt feed on Jessica. The agents hear Jessica's screams and come to her rescue. Murray kills Jane with a stake, and he escapes the grounds with Jessica and Torrence.

Van Helsing visits his scientist friend Julian Keeley (Freddie Jones), whom he recognized among the four conspirators. The mentally unstable Keeley is involved in bacteriological research designed to create a virulent strain of the bubonic plague. Van Helsing is shot by a guard and passes out. When he revives, Keeley's dead body hangs from the ceiling and the plague bacillus is gone.

Keeley referred to the 23rd of the month, which Van Helsing discovers is the "Sabbath of the Undead". Keeley's research notes lead Van Helsing to the reclusive property developer D. D. Denham, who funded Keeley's research. Van Helsing speculates that the fifth photo of an empty doorway may actually have been of Dracula, whose image can not be captured; he suggests that Dracula wants to exact revenge on humanity. Van Helsing visits Denham in his headquarters (built on the church yard where Dracula died in the previous film) and discovers that he is actually Count Dracula. He tries to shoot Dracula with a silver bullet but is beaten by the Count's conspirators. Dracula decides that killing Van Helsing would be too simple and has him moved to the country house.

Jessica, Murray, Mathews and Torrence, while observing the country house, are attacked by snipers. Torrence and Mathews are killed, and Murray and Jessica are captured. Murray awakes in the cellar and escapes the clutches of Chin Yang, revealed to be a vampire herself. After staking her through the heart with a mallet, he destroys the other female vampires with clear running water from the fire sprinkler system.

Dracula arrives at the house with Van Helsing. He announces to his henchmen that Jessica will be his consort, uncorrupted by the plague that his "four horsemen" – including Van Helsing – will carry out into the world. The conspirators, who had considered the plague a threat not to be used, begin to question their master. Dracula's hypnotic command brings them back into his control. He commands John Porter (Richard Mathews) to break the vial, releasing the bacteria and immediately infecting the minister.

Murray overpowers a guard in the computer room. The guard's metal baton smashes a computer panel causing an explosion that starts a fire and unlocks the ritual room. Two uninfected conspirators escape, Murray rescues Jessica, and the infected minister and the plague bacteria burn in the fire. Dracula attacks Van Helsing, but his prey escapes through a window into the woods. Van Helsing lures Dracula into a hawthorn bush where he is entangled. Van Helsing grabs a fence post and drives it through his heart. Dracula disintegrates into ash. Van Helsing retrieves Dracula's ring from the ashes.



The film included much of the original cast and characters of Dracula A. D. 1972, the main change being Joanna Lumley playing a more mature version of Jessica Van Helsing, as compared to Stephanie Beacham.

Work began on what was tentatively titled Dracula is Dead... and Well and Living in London in November 1972. The title was a parody of the stage and film musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, but Lee was not amused. Speaking at a press conference in 1973 to announce the film, Lee said:

I'm doing it under protest... [...] I think it is fatuous. I can think of twenty adjectives – fatuous, pointless, absurd. It's not a comedy, but it's got a comic title. I don't see the point.[2]

The film was eventually retitled as The Satanic Rites of Dracula. The French title, Dracula vit toujours à Londres, remains closer to what was initially planned, as it can be translated by Dracula is still Living in London. In the United States, the film was distributed as Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride.

The film itself is a mixture of horror, science fiction and a spy thriller, with a screenplay by Don Houghton, a veteran of BBC's Doctor Who. The original score was composed by television composer John Cacavas. It wrapped on 3 January 1973 – 15 years to the day since the original Hammer Dracula.

This was the final Hammer film that Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing would make together. Lee was offered the role of Dracula opposite Cushing in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires but declined it. The two stars would eventually reunite one more time in House of the Long Shadows 10 years later.

Critical reception[edit]

AllMovie called it the "least interesting" film in the Hammer Dracula series.[3] Time Out wrote, "a lot of weak action scenes and weaker lines, but still a vast improvement on Dracula A.D."[4]

Popular culture[edit]

The doom metal band Electric Wizard frequently references horror films in their work, and on the album Witchcult Today titled the third track "Satanic Rites of Drugula".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (25 September 2007). The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films [The Hammer Story] (Limited ed.). Titan Books. p. 163. ISBN 978-1845761851. OCLC 493684031. 
  2. ^ Haining, Peter (1992). The Dracula Scrapbook. Chancellor Press. ISBN 1-85152-195-X. 
  3. ^ Binion, Cavett. "Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1973) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Satanic Rites of Dracula Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Retrieved 16 August 2012. 

External links[edit]