Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Christopher Lee as Dracula
THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973). Director: Alan Gibson.

Dracula (Christopher Lee) is alive and well and masquerading as the Howard Hughes-like millionaire recluse Denham. When his nemesis, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), learns that Dracula has joined together a group of prominent men into a satanic cult, and that one of them, Professor Keeley (Freddie Jones of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) has grown cultures of bubonic plague -- the "Black Death' -- he postulates that Dracula wants to end all life on earth and realize final peace. By Van Helsing's side are his granddaughter Jessica (Joanna Lumley) and Inspector Murray (Michael Coles), who break into a sinister estate from which the cult operates and find themselves in a cellar full of slavering vampire women! The Satanic Rites Of Dracula, which takes place in modern times, is one of the better latter-day Hammer Dracula offerings, with both Lee and Cushing expert in their portrayals, and with top-notch supporting performances as well. This is bolstered by an intriguing plot line, although the use of nasty motorcycle thugs as the cult's assassins and the like is a notion that doesn't always work too well. As much as I love Bela Lugosi, I think Lee makes the more commanding Dracula. This was Lee's last appearance as the traditional Dracula in a Hammer film, although he also played the Lord of the Undead in the 1976 comedy Dracula and Son. Alan Gibson also directed the thriller Crescendo.

Verdict: Pretty terrific Hammer flick. ***.


angelman66 said...

This could be the best one of all, along with the original Horror of and my other favorite Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.
Long live Sir Christopher Lee, I thought he would live forever, like his most famous character. Immortal star!!
Need to see this one again soon.
- Chris

William said...

Or Lee should have had a portrait of himself somewhere that could age while he stayed young. At least he kept working nearly up until his death.