Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October Movie Reviews: Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires

Back to Hammer for this one in the LAST true Dracula films from the House of Hammer.
Though there is not a lot of Dracula in it and no Christopher Lee.

Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)

Dracula is visited by a Chinese monk who needs him to resurrect the Seven Golden Vampires, the most powerful vampires in China.  Dracula initially refuses, but decides he needs to get out of his castle for a bit. We learn here that Dracula can speak Chinese/Mandarin or at least understand it.  This scene featured Dracula rising from his coffin in one motion that we would later see in "Fright Night" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula".   Dracula takes over the body of the monk and heads off to China.

There Prof. Lawrence Van Helsing (unknown if it is the same Lawrence Van Helsing from Dracula AD 1972, but it is safe to assume it is) is lecturing to a Chinese university about vampires.  His son, Leyland is also there.  The other professors scoff at him, but one student takes him seriously.  He is the grandson of the man that killed one of the seven Golden Vampires and want's Van Helsing's help to kill the others.  They travel along with his son, another woman paying for everything, and the seven siblings (6 brothers and 1 sister).  Of course the Chinese siblings are all Kung-Fu masters.

There are lots of kung-fu fights which is as unexpected as it gets in a Hammer film and then there is the final confrontation with the last of the Golden Vampires and Dracula himself.

All in all a very interesting tale.  I like how even Van Helsing was stumped on the differences between West and East vampires.  He even postulates, given China's rich history of the supernatural, that the vampire my have originated there and moved west.
This is a period piece to be sure.  Not the 1804 period from the movies, but rather the mid 70's.  Kung-fu was where the money was.
It was not a great movie, and for the last Dracula film, pretty lacking in the Dracula department.  It features John Forbes-Robertson as Dracula looking exactly like he did in Hammer's "Vampire Lovers" (where he was supposed to be Dracula, sort of), but he is only seen at the beginning and end and he dies like punk.

Enjoyable as a Kung-fu movie with Vampires, but lacking as a Hammer film or a Dracula one.

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