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Taste the Blood of Dracula
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Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)

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Plot Summary:
"Three elderly distinguished gentlemen are searching for some excitement in their boring borgoueis lives and gets in contact with one of count Dracula's servants. In a nightly ceremony they restore the count back to life. The three men killed Dracula's servant and as a revenge, the count makes sure that the gentlemen are killed one by one by their own sons."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 10 May 2006 My Rating: out of 5


Set in the Victorian era, the inimitable Roy Kinnear stumbles upon Dracula (the even more inimitable Christopher Lee) in the throes of death, and Kinnear being Kinnear, nicks Dracula's ring, cape, and even some of his dried blood. Cut to respectable, puritanical William Hargood (Geoffrey Keen) and his fellow aristocrats (played by Peter Sallis and John Carson), who are anything but respectable behind closed doors. Indeed, they are in the habit of visiting houses of ill repute (managed by a seriously camp Russell Hunter) and indulging in such debauchery so as to make members of the Hellfire Club blush. They meet up with an infamous heretic played foaming at the mouth by Ralph Bates, in his first big role. Looking for more saucy fun, it is suggested by Bates that they resurrect Count Dracula, for the ultimate decadent thrill, one supposes. When the fit hits the shans and Bates reacts badly to ingesting Dracula's blood, Keen and cronies act like good Samaritans and kick the stuffing out of him, leaving him for dead. But when Dracula is resurrected and sees what has happened to his servant, he wants revenge on these men and their rather dull children (it's Hammer after all).

Why so much time invested in describing the plot? Because the one flaw this entertaining Hammer entry has is that there is far too much going on before the fanged one shows up proper. This is probably because it was originally not even intended as a film in which Dracula was an active participant, with Lee grumbling over his salary as per usual (Still love the guy, though). I just thought the Dracula story seemed a little too tacked-on for my liking.

Is what is on the screen very entertaining to watch? Absolutely, with the best cast of any of the Hammer Dracula films helping a great deal, even if Lee himself is finally showing some boredom or resignation in his performance (the first signs I've ever seen of it). Kinnear and Bates both vie for scene-stealing duties, in highly entertaining performances. Keen makes for a perfectly detestable Victorian gentleman, with this whole angle being quite fascinating, if not perfectly meshing with the Dracula storyline.

The film is also stunning to look at, and very easy on the ears thanks to a fine musical score by series regular James Bernard. The ending is much reviled, but it is such an amusing idea that I actually liked it a lot. Best of all, dependant upon which version you see, the film even boasts a little more red stuff than usual and even a few flashes of boobage, which I ever so much appreciated.

Though slow-building and featuring a somewhat irrelevant appearance by Dracula, this is a fascinating and strong entry in the series. Good-looking and sounding, and featuring a great cast of British genre veterans doing their thing.

Reviewer: Andrew Rowat @horrorasylum
Location:Surrey, UK
Review Date: 31 July 2004 My Rating: out of 5

Taste the Blood of Dracula is an entertaining Hammer picture, not particularly great but nor is it the worst of Christopher Lee's outings as the eponymous Count.

The film takes the interesting stance of killing its demonic antihero within the first 5 minutes, Hammer repeated this in Dracula A.D 1972. Roy Kinnear a salesman who stumbles across the staked, and dying Count, bottles the fiend's blood and sells it to the highest bidder. In this case, the evil Ralph Bates and his coven of devil-worshippers. Their ritual entails that they must drink this ketchup-resembling blood , hence the title. Ralph Bates ingests this foul liquid and, basically, becomes Christopher Lee (after being beaten to death by his pals). This whole premise is delivered with a peculiar relish that is rather satisfying, the onscreen introductions to the Count are made awesome with a thunderous score and shadowy lighting.

Apparently the unusual transformation of the film's villain was due to Christopher Lee agreeing to take the role at the eleventh hour, therefore Ralph Bates's role mercilessly cut short to make way for Hammer's premier icon. You would never know this judging by what's on display as it doesn't have that rushed look. Admittedly it is not in the same league of some of hammer's other greats such as Twins Of Evil, Horror Of Dracula or Curse Of The Werewolf, it does have a juicey style of its own and a bloodthirsty glee which makes it eminently watchable.

Most notable is the film's conceit of Dracula using a proselyte to carry out his dirty deeds, his servant (who he has under his hypnotic power) is also the film's damsel in distress and pure virgin. Hence this film subverts the norms, making the buxom victim (who we care for) the killer. This servant of evil/virgin damsel is adeptly played by Linda Hayden - one of hammer's more beautiful starlets. She displays a wide-eyed innocence and chubby girl-next-door quality missing in their other films. This whole pretty-girl-turns-vicious-killer was a major preoccupation for Hammer during the early seventies, the best being Countess Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (a film in which Ralph Bates is really given the opportunity to shine).

The film's central theme seems to be an inversion of the Christian ethos of the Lord's Supper, the principle of drinking the blood of Christ and being a servant dedicated to good deeds is changed to being enslaved to evil acts and drinking the blood of Dracula, the antichrist himself. This is all quite subtle and isn't worn on the film's sleeve, as are the religious connotations of the excellent Wicker Man or The Satanic Rites Of Dracula.

I would recommend this film to anyone interested in Hammer or Dracula. It is a fun romp, full of atmosphere and all the staples of gothic horror - an excellent climax is played out in a derelict cathedral. Just don't expect a masterpiece.

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