The Satanic Rites of Dracula Reviews
My delight in this may be, partly, conditioned by my Roman Catholicism, which delights in intertextuality.
(Code name) Amanda: I got the Satanic Rites of Dracula!
SB: That's cool. Have you ever seen Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides?
A: No, is that good too?
SB: Why yes, heck I will sell it to you!
A: Sure, awesome! How much?
SB: Since I like you, I will sell it to you for five dollars. How is that?
A: Spectacular, I cannot wait to see this film, thanks!
SB: This is Sleezboy and coming up Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee battle it off in this slow, tedious, and bankrupted picture of Dracula, but is there any chance of seeing it? My review of the Satanic Rites of Dracula, it is also known as Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides.
There can be no doubt that Hammer Horror films have impacted US market and influenced a lot of filmmakers and jump started careers with remakes of the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolf Man. Beginning with Curse of Frankenstein, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing tackle on the role and retelling the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster with vivid color. The Horror of Dracula would then be mad and spawn a number of sequels with only Lee starring as Dracula. The continuous reprisals of the role and sinking story would start wear out Lee until Cushing made a cheered return as Van Helsing in Dracula AD 1972. Film would be panned from critics and Hammer Studios would be pretty much bankrupted afterwards. In a last ditch effort, they made Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides also known as Satanic Rites of Dracula.
I purchased this film in a horror collection that you can find in Wal-Mart and usually cost like 5 dollars because they are made up of either crappy films or public domain films. You know that is not a good sign. Yet, the films in this collection were too bad. We had a few prestigious one that you can watch anywhere else. There was Night of the Living Dead, The Pyx, and a few obscured films like Bloody Pit of Horror. What won me over was when I saw this film listed among the collection, so I bought it. The films were all okay although a lot better than the dreadful Gore House Greats (coming soon).
Starting off very choppy and grainy, we find a satanic ritual taking place while a beaten prisoner makes an escape. Saved, he gives out information to secret service right before passes away. The information startles investigators as high profile names are given in the involvement of the ritual. The department/secret services then calls on Scotland Yard's Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) to investigate which he suggests consultation from Professor Van Helsing. Van Helsing is puzzled too although aware that it is nothing new for older and powerful gentleman to be involved with the black arts and black magic. He goes to investigate on his own when it is brought to light that he knows one of the men. On his search, he soon discovers that the men are serving a much for frightening creature known as Dracula which an evil plan is discovered involving a new awesome version of the bubonic plague, the Black Death.
Very silly is it not? This film is pretty much mixes the genre of horror, spy thriller, and science fiction. It is slow and really sluggish and Dracula does not appear what so ever until the last 25 minutes with scheme similar to the mad scientist. Looking at the whole picture, it felt like there was not a lot of effort done with this film even though performances from Lee and Cushing were pretty fine. I must note that their characterization were not very unique or complex, but at least watchable and entertaining. I like a scene where Van Helsing gives his self-advice and a narration. How wacky and amusing is that? *Crickets* okay, moving on.
Everybody else is okay with a few really bad performances. They are so bad Cushing smacks one of the actors to get better. There are a few impoliticly correct caricatures and overtones like the evil dragon assassin played by Barbara Yu Ling and Joanna Lumley's damsel in distress and need for male rescue.
One thing that bugged was how weak the vampires off here. Apart from the stake to heart and sunlight, vampires can also be killed by running water, holy bible, makeshift crucifixes, silver bullets, and by a bush. Really a bush! Well, not the first time someone was killed by a 'bush!' This comes to mind when one of our heroes goes into a cellar discovers female vampires chained. Why they are chained up is beyond me. Anyways, the female vampires fear him and are massacred in a hideous way. Are not vampires adapted with super human strength? It is silly, but it is in there. Another thing that had me at odds is agents or henchmen that work for Dracula. Possibly taking a page of A Clockwork Orange, these hooligans run around in motorcycles in these tacky vests kidnapping people and silencing others. There is no clear number in their ranks and disappear altogether in the climatic showdown except one guy. Hey, it is the Satanic Vest of Dracula! I was amused by all this.
Apart from those problems, the biggest problem I had with the film besides the lack of effort was the picture. The picture is very grainy and muddled making it hard to see anything at times. There is also really poor sound quality. Dialogue falls short or is inaudible at times. Other sounds in the film include glass breaking, silencers, and screams. The music is pretty nice to listen to. It tries to be this funk style surrounded by mystery and terror.
Yet, that is not much of a problem once we get Cushing and Lee on the screen. Their confrontation is pretty much enjoyable and my favorite scene. They work great together. The opening of the film is also pretty good to watch as we see London and ominous shadow grow upon it. I am guessing the filmmakers thought by holding Dracula from screen time would create a positive reaction when he finally makes that anticipated appearance. What it does illustrates the example of reversing the roles of Dracula and the plot. I heard that the plot used to revolve around Dracula and now Dracula is revolving around the plot. Revolting, I must admit. Yet, I actually enjoyed watching this flick despite its silly premise and revelation along with its other problems. A lot of it has to do with the casting of Cushing and Lee. It may not be a lot, but I enjoy this favorite guilty pleasures.
You can watch this film on YouTube for free. There is a bit of female nudity, but the grainy and poor cinematography will cover that up. Bloody gore is kept at a minimum with limited special effects and weak action although a nasty stake in one scene. I would say this film is viewable among teenagers in high school. At what age, depends on the parent because I do not think parents will be pleased to see the satanic ritual in the beginning and may overreact.
*somewhere at night*
Amanda has finished watching Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides. 'This was an okay film. I expected more, but I like nonetheless. Alright, I hope Satanic Rites of Dracula is a lot better.' *Puts on the DVD and play* she smiles and stays like that for the next ten minutes.
I walk into the kitchen and open a can of Coke. Drink, gulp, gulp, and gulp. Look oh no, this taste like Pepsi! *Girl wail* face breakers 2! *Punch*