I reviewed this movie’s sequel “The Satanic Rites of Dracula” earlier for this site. Like that film, this movie was an attempt by Hammer to update its decades old Dracula series and bring both the Count and Van Helsing into the swinging 70’s. In many ways “Dracula AD 1972” is a remake of an earlier Hammer vampire flick “Taste the Blood of Dracula.” In that movie, Victorian gentlemen dabble in devil worship out of boredom, only to bring forth the vampire lord yet again. In this film it’s hippies, but the results are the same: Dracula lives – and sucks – in London.
The movie starts off with Van Helsing (his name needlessly changed here from Abraham to Lawrence) and Dracula doing final battle in the 19th Century. But after that brief flashback, it’s into the 70’s with Van Helsing’s granddaughter (Stephanie Beacham) and her hippie friends. Ya’ see they’re bored with crashing parties and hanging out in coffee bars. They need a new kinda groove. And their suspiciously named pal Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) has just the right kind of groove in mind. Black Mass Rituals. As previously mentioned the ritual brings ol’ fang face back to life and he’s stalking the Van Helsing family for revenge. So of course, Grandpa Van Helsing (also played by Peter Cushing) wants to put the spike on Dracula (Christopher Lee in his signature role) before it’s too late.
Overall, I think this go around is more enjoyable then “Satanic Rites.” Though it suffers from many of the same problems. Dracula is kept mostly in the background here. In fact he never leaves the grounds of a ruined Church, which leads me to believe that Hammer was still uneasy at the idea of Dracula hitting the discos or something. Sadly they bring the disco to Dracula by having corny sounding music play at the wrong time – times where a somber score is needed to set the proper mood.
I just wish they had done more with the idea of Dracula in the present tense. It doesn’t quite work here or in “Satanic Rites”, but I do think it’s an idea with legs. It’s a high concept that was revisited in other films, and really only 1987’s Monster Squad pulls it off fully. “Dracula AD 1972” only dabbles in it. And I think the movie is worse off for it.
Still, it’s a Hammer vampire movie, so it’s not without its entertainment value. It’s filled with buxom babes in low-cut tops, and of course plenty of blood. While the production values aren’t quite as lush as the earlier Hammer horror films there’s still a lot of nice visuals here as well. I can think of worse ways to fill an evening.