Christopher Lee as Dracula
Christopher Lee’s last appearances as the Hammer Studios’ own “Prince of Darkness” are finally available on Blu-ray, courtesy of the Warner Brothers Archive Collection.
First up is Dracula A.D. 1972 which reunites Lee with Peter Cushing as Lorrimer Van Helsing, the grandson of Dracula’s greatest nemesis. In this outing Dracula is raised from the dead to the modern world to continue his quest for immortality by consuming the blood of the innocent.
This time, Dracula has his sights on Van Helsing’s great granddaughter Jessica, played by Stephanie Beacham (Dynasty, Troop Beverly Hills) in one of her first on-screen roles. When Jessica’s friends decide to have a groovy black mass for kicks they get more than they bargained for when the king of all bloodsuckers rises to exact his revenge anyone bearing her family’s surname.
Rated PG for mild horror violence. this installment is very good and both Lee and Cushing are always great when they are playing these iconic roles. The new Blu-ray release includes the original theatrical trailer and a brand new 2018 1080p HD remaster. Clocking in at just 96 minutes Dracula A.D. 1972 is a fast moving horror blast and a must for any Hammer Horror fan.
Next up is the direct sequel, 1973’s The Satanic Rites Of Dracula.
Lee and Cushing both reprise their roles from the previous film but this time Joanna Lumley (The New Avengers, Absolutely Fabulous) steps into the role of Jessica Van Helsing. Also returning are screenwriter Don Houghton and Director Alan Gibson.
This film is quite different in that it starts out like a James Bond film with the British Secret Service investigating some occult goings on. It takes quite a while before they finally reach out to Lorrimer Van Helsing for his expertise in all things otherworldly and then eventually Lee shows up again as Dracula. Lumley isn’t quite as good as Beacham but is given quite a bit to do; this R-rated installment filled with gratuitous nudity and much more blood than the previous PG rated film.
The Satanic Rites Of Dracula doesn’t really stand on it’s own merit and if you were going to watch it I would say only do so as a double feature with A.D. 1972 which is a much better film. Even Lee seems to have little to do in this one and his dialogue is almost non existent. This film also includes the original theatrical trailer and boasts a new 2018 1080p HD remaster as well.
All in all both films are a welcome addition to the collection of fans of the Hammer Horror films, especially with the stellar picture and audio quality. Here’s hoping that next year we finally get a release of, the hard to find on any format, Scars Of Dracula, Lee’s fifth outing as Transylvania’s favorite son.
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