Sunday 31 March 2013

The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)
The last of Hammer's Dracula movies is another gimmick flick, this time attempting to cash in on the martial arts craze via a collaboration with Shaw Brothers. I've enjoyed the installments from the Mr. Vampire series that I've seen and I've been curious about Hammer's take on oriental vampires for a long time. As it turns out, this is a film that is both less and more than the sum of its parts. Much of it is incredibly hokey - the vampires' make-up, behind their golden masks, is ridiculous and so is that of their undead armies. There are several scenes of half-naked women lashed to planks in the vampires' tower and tortured which are cheaply exploitative - but this is nothing new for Hammer, with its long legacy of heaving bosoms and ever plunging necklines.

It is very far from being Hammer's finest film, and in some ways from being especially good at all. And yet...there's Peter Cushing, old and frail but still gallant and driven as Van Helsing. As ever,  he is worth the price of admission himself, but that's not all, either. There's a certain thrill to seeing this most faux mittel-European of franchises breaking new ground. The massed fight scenes are genuinely thrilling to watch. There are moments of bleak, ominous atmosphere. The Chinese clan who get Van Helsing to help them fight the golden vampires are genuinely likable. It seems as if Van Helsing helps them very little, but there is a knock-out final scene between him and Count Dracula - how one wished Lee had been persuaded to don the cape and fangs one more time for this last clash of titans!

1 comment:

Suresh S said...

I saw this on video as a kid and found the hopping vampires very underwhelming.