It’s really one of Hammer’s most impressive, quirkiest efforts. Regardless of how bad things were for Hammer in the 70s, the movies that came out of it were usually very good and very interesting.
The Pirates of Blood River is still a solid adventure tale, with plenty of action, a dependable cast, and a look that fools you into thinking this is a much higher budget film than it actually is. It’s nice to see these old Hammer swashbucklers getting some attention.
Realizing that I was witnessing something completely weird, I threw a tape into my VCR and recorded about 70% of the film. It became one of the most cherished gifts I ever gave my stoner buddy Ken. But I can’t even play the ‘dude, I was so wasted’ card, because I was stone cold sober at the time
Even though it never really becomes a swashbuckling adventure (although Peter Cushing does get to swing from a chandelier) or a horror film, Hinds exploits the trappings of both genres to create a thrilling hybrid driven by strong characters and solid British acting.
While my gullible faith in the high-concept team-up often let me down, I was certain that Tony Randall versus Klaus Kinski in a lighthearted Eurospy adventure would live up to the promise.
If you like the AIP Poe films or don’t mind lots of dialog, this is a good old-fashioned occult thriller that winds up being a great way to spend midnight, provided you don’t have any decadent rich parties that devolve into an orgiastic ritual lorded over by a vampire to attend at midnight.
One would assume, then, that with a title like The Satanic Rites of Dracula, the sequel would follow in the footsteps of turning Dracula into a religious anti-icon. But then, honestly, what more can be done to make him Lucifer incarnate than having him summoned by rituals and pentagrams and strange runes?
The plot is a bit of a letdown, especially considering that it’s the first time Van Helsing and Dracula have been on screen together since the first movie.
Satirical or not, what I definitely find The Face of Fu Manchu to be is a rollicking good adventure yarn, full of fist fights, car chases, exploding monasteries, underwater lairs, and fiendish traps.
There’s a reason this emerged as the goriest of all Dracula films, and one of the goriest Hammer films, period: they had to cover up the threadbare production with something.