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Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973)

Hard on the heels of the truly appalling Dracula AD1972 came this little gem - often thought of as an Avengers episode in disguise, but I think more of a Doctor Who in drag.

For one thing, you've got Peter Cushing (an ex Doctor) taking on the role of scientific advisor to a shadowy Government organisation.

Then you've got his lovely assistant, played by Joanna Lumley. There's even a gormless bloke with a bad haircut who likes nothing better than mixing it with an assortment of supernatural foes.

Now, if that isn't basically what was going on on our television screens every Saturday night in the early 70s, I'll eat my shapeless felt hat (and for pudding I'll have a long multicoloured scarf).

Even more strangely, you have Christopher Lee supposedly playing Dracula, but in fact coming over like The Master (he even calls himself this at one point).

Now for many of you who don't know what Doctor Who is, it was a crappy sci fi programme made by the good old BBC in the 60s, 70s and 80s, which eventually disappeared up its own arse when it started being made by fans. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing that can possibly ever happen, which is why I'm against the re-making of any old films or TV shows.

Right, I'll get off my soap box now. All connections with Doctor Who aside, what this film is is actually quite good.

Satanic Rites is an attempt to move away from the Gothics that had gone stale at the turn of the decade, and were positively reeking by now. If it was made these days people would think it was great, and I actually think it's one of the better Draculas.

The action moves along at a cracking pace (there's a phrase used by all apologists) and if you ignore the plot holes it's brill.

My only complaint is that, like many screen villains, the Vampires appear to get easier to kill as time goes on. In this they can be dissolved by water(?) - when did that happen?

The undead are easier to kill than the living, which seems a bit daft to me. And don't even get me started on how easy it became to kill the supposedly indestructible Cybermen in the later Doctor Whos…

Director: Alan Gibson Writer(s): Don Houghton

Cast: Christopher Lee - Count Dracula, Peter Cushing - Professor Larimer Van Helsing, Michael Coles - Inspector Murray, William Franklyn - Torrence, Freddie Jones - Professor Keeley, Joanna Lumley - Jessica, Richard Vernon - Mathews, Barbara Yu Ling - Chin Yang, Patrick Barr - Lord Carradine, Richard Mathews - Porter, Lockwood West - Freeborne, Valerie Van Ost - Jane, Maurice O'Connell - Hanson, Peter Adair - Doctor, Maggie Fitzgerald - Vampire Girl, Pauline Peart - Vampire Girl, Finnuala O'Shannon - Vampire Girl, Mia Martin - Vampire Girl, John Harvey - Commissionaire, Marc Zuber - Guard 1, Paul Weston - Guard 2, Ian Dewar - Guard 3, Graham Rees - Guard 4

 

Last updated: February 27, 2010

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