TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA. 1970. DIRECTED BY PETER SASDY. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, RALPH BATES, ROY KINNEAR, GEOFFREY KEEN, PETER SALLIS, JOHN CARSON, GWEN WATFORD, MICHAEL RIPPER, ANTHONY CORLAN, ISLA BLAIR AND LINDA HAYDEN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Messrs. Hargood, Secker and Paxton are a trio of fine upstanding Victorian gentlemen. Middle-aged and well-to-do, they go to church, they support their families and they take their places in the community with pride. Except on the last Sunday of every month, of course, when they go in secret to a brothel to seek the illicit hedonistic thrills denied to them in their everyday lives. As you do, I suppose…
Regular Hammer actor Ralph Bates is absolutely fantastic as the super-posh but stony-broke Lord Courtley. Well-known locally for dabbling in the occult, he runs into the threesome at the brothel and tells them that he’s got a real thrill for them, if they’ve got the balls to see it through and the cash to pay for it. The three lads, having exhausted the limits of what the girls in Felix’s whorehouse can do for them, are well-up for a bit of a larf.
They go with Courtley to see antiques dealer Roy Kinnear (He’s Verruca Salt’s rich, indulgent daddy in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory…!)who sells them, for the piffling sum of a thousand guineas, the means by which they can bring the evil Count Dracula back to life. Well…! If I’d known that that was all it cost, I’d have gone there myself.
During the bringing-Dracula-back-to-life ceremony, which takes place in the most beautiful old ruined gothic church you can imagine, something unpleasant happens to the dissolute scallywag Courtley. I can’t tell you what, but let’s just say that when the Count eventually shows his handsome face, he’s super-pissed-off with the three thrill-seekers and swears a deadly revenge on all three. Humph. They had it coming.
Well, I don’t know so much about Paxton and Secker, but Hargood certainly has it coming, anyway. He’s the very model, not of a modern major-general, but of the stern, unbending Victorian patriarch, ruling his terrified wife and daughter with a rod of iron.
His daughter Alice, played by surely the prettiest Hammer actress ever to co-star alongside Dracula (Linda Hayden), is head-over-heels in love with the rather drippy Paul Paxton, Mr. Paxton’s son. Daddy Hargood, however, is a right curmudgeonly old meanie who tries to block the path of true love every chance he gets. No wonder poor sweet Alice is ripe for the devastating charms and sexual magnetism of Count Dracula…
This is probably my favourite of all the Hammer DRACULA films, and maybe even the best one since the original film in 1958. Every actor from the superb Christopher Lee as Dracula to lovely old Michael Ripper as Cobb the Policeman, is perfectly cast.
The costumes, settings and fine musical score by James Bernard are all simply gorgeous. They create a gothic, deliciously sinister mood that lasts right up until the final frame. The distinctive Hammer woods and carriages and crypts and tombs are all present and correct. The film is beautifully-scripted and directed and the climax utterly nail-biting. God, I truly love this film.
What I love the most, however, is Dracula’s complete manipulation of Alice and Lucy, who quite literally- excuse my French- become his bitches in the film. They do his bidding because he is the handsomest, sexiest Dracula ever to don that silk-lined cape and they are totally warm for his form.
His sexual magnetism makes them melt like a Kit-Kat on a radiator and one glance from those chocolatey-brown peepers of his and they’re forgetting they even have a family and friends. Sigh. I know how you feel, ladies. I’d be the exact same.
Stand-out scenes include dear old Roy Kinnear in the forest at the beginning, witnessing a sight that you don’t see every day. I’m not going to tell you what that is, but it’s well worth checking out. There’s also Lord Courtley sweeping scornfully through Felix’s brothel and ‘stealing’ Mr. Hargood’s whore, and of course any scene with Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper in it.
To be honest, the whole film is just perfect. There isn’t a false note to be found anywhere in it. You might not agree with me and that’s fine. Just know this, however. I’m never wrong, and even when I am, I’m still mostly right, haha…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY