As latter-day Hammer films go, The Vampire Lovers is an entertaining, sexy romp. It relies less on the hammy scare tactics of the later Dracula series and more on the audience’s assumptions.
Release: 1974 Director: Brian Clemens Screenplay: Brian Clemens Starring: Horst Janson, John Carson, Shane Briant, Caroline Munro, John Cater, Lois Daine, Ian Hendry Country: Great Britain At the end of the day, I have to shrug and surrender to my baser side and say that Michael Carreras probably needed to be kicked in the shin…
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.
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?
And so we enter the dire straights of Hammer Films in the final throes of a long, drawn-out death much like those experienced by Dracula himself. As has been detailed elsewhere and will be summarized here, by the 1970s, England’s Hammer Studios — the studio that pretty much defined and dominated the horror market through the 50s and 60s — had fallen on hard times. The old guard had largely retired or died, and the new blood was flailing about, desperately trying to find the direction that would right the once mighty production house.
Scars of Dracula isn’t an abominably bad entry into the series. It’s just completely derivative and pointless, falling back onto the tiresome “doomed souls visiting Castle Dracula” and trying to set itself apart by giving Christopher Lee’s vampire count more lines in this one movie than he’d had in all the others combined. They don’t fool anyone, though, and while Scars boasts some memorable moments, the gestalt experience is one best forgotten.
Despite the weak ending, Taste the Blood is an exceptional entry into Hammer’s Dracula oeuvre. Even Christopher Lee grudgingly admits that it turned out to be a good film, though to this day he won’t stop going on about how corny the title is.