Dracula A.D. 1972

1972 saw the release of Dracula A.D. 1972, the 7th Hammer Horror feature film of the Dracula series  and the sixth to star Christopher Lee in the title role. It also sees the return of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing for the first time since The Brides of Dracula in 1960, and is the first to feature both Lee and Cushing in their respective roles since 1958’sDracula. directed by Alan Gibson and written by Don Houghton the movie also stars Stephanie Beacham and the delicious looking Caroline Munro in a small role.The movie deviates from the previous ones as it not a direct continuity from the previous film, unlike how it was so far. Also it is set in the modern era, ie., 1972 the same year as the release of the movie.

In 1982 Dracula & Lawrence Van Helsing battle it out on a running horse carriage, which crashes and Dracula is partly impaled by one of the wheels. In the struggle, Van Helsing manages to fully push the wheel into the vampire’s chest, staking him. This done, Van Helsing collapses and dies from his own wounds, just as one of Dracula’s devotees arrives on horse back. He collects Dracula’s remains and a few days later buries them next to Van Helsing’s grave at St. Bartoph’s Church. Now, fast forward a 100 years and we’re in 1972 London. A group of young hippies, which include Van Helsing’s great-great granddaughter, revel in drinking & partying. One of the group, Johnny Alucard (played by the same actor as that of Dracula’s disciple) persuades Jessica and the others to attend a black magic ceremony in the now abandoned, de-consecrated St Bartolph’s. At night he performs a black arts ceremony which ends in the bloody ritual involving one of the group, Laura Bellows, that resurrects Dracula. Jessica and the others flee in horror of the ritual, not knowing that the great vampire has been resurrected, after which Dracula is resurrected and kills Laura.

Young school boys find Laura’s body and alerts the cops, who suspects an occult element and interviews Lorrimer Van Helsing (Cushing), Jessica’s grandfather, who is shocked to learn the details of Laura’s death. Lorrimer is an occult expert and professor and has kept the secrets of Dracula passed on by  his father who got it from his father. He realises that Johnny Alucard (whose name is Dracula written backwards) is a disciple of Dracula, and that the Count must have returned. In the meantime, Alucard brings another of Jessica’s friends, Gaynor, to St Bartolph’s, where she is killed by Dracula and Alucard is himself turned into a vampire. The vampire Alucard kills a passer-by and lures Jessica’s boyfriend, Bob (Philip Miller), to a café they frequent, where he turns him into a vampire as well. While Lorrimer is out, Bob goes to the Van Helsing house and persuades Jessica to come to the café, where he and Alucard capture her and take her to Dracula. Lorrimer tracks Aucard to the latter’s flat and after a confrontation, kills him in the shower where the sunlight & running water drowns him. Lorrimer then finds Bob dead on the grounds of the church  discovers Jessica in a trance at St Bartolph’s, where Dracula plans to take his revenge on the Van Helsing family by turning her into a vampire. Van Helsing sets a trap for Dracula and waits for him to return at nightfall. After a struggle, Dracula is killed by a fall into a pit of stakes that Van Helsing had previously prepared, and his spell over Jessica is broken. She embraces her grandfather and the title “Rest In Final Peace” is shown.

Not nearly as good as some of the first couple of movies in this series. Interesting take and change in direction for the movie though. Not too bloody or gory, there’s a bit of heavy cleavage action by Miss Munro and especially by Miss Beacham, where the camera seems to focus a lot of time on her shapely bosom! 6 outta 10!

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