Taste The Blood Of Dracula
It's hard to be critical of a film that's opening scenes feature the
wonderful Roy Kinnear. Luckily, with Taste The Blood Of Dracula,
I don't have to be. Not only is it an intelligently written, beautifully
filmed tale which takes the Dracula idea and expands on it, but it actually
follows on from the last one (Dracula
Has Risen From The Grave) - and not in a crappy "Don't go there,
that's Castle Dracula - where once, terrible things happened" kind
of way, either. Even the rather lurid title makes sense.
After getting lobbed out of his coach "What a way to travel, eh?"
old Roy finds Dracula writhing on his cross, tears of blood pouring from
his eyes (which, if we all remember correctly, is the way the last film
finished - whaddya mean you fell asleep?). As the body dissolves leaving
just a bit of red powder paint, a cloak and some jewellery, old Roy has
"Dracula... Dracula's blood..."
After the credits a bunch of stiff-upper-lipped Victorians make their
way out of church, and once they get home, frumpy Alice (the soon-to-be-gorgeous
Linda Hayden) is berated by her father for "smiling and flirting"
with a young man.
Of course dad is William Hargood, one of a a trio of typically hypocritical
Victorian men who spend their days bossing people about and once a week
indulge in "pleasures of the flesh" at an East End Brothel (whilst
telling everyone they're doing charity work).
So, to the cries of "'ot potaters..." the threesome make their
way into Limehouse and start the shagging, opium abuse and whatever else
passed for fun in those days. However, their (rather odd-looking) debauchery
is cut short by Lord Courtley (Ralph Bates), who crashes the party and
whips away Madeleine Smith without so much as a by-your-leave (personally
I'd ask for my money back...)
Felix the bald pouf who runs the establishment tells them: "If I
weren't religious I'd say he was possessed... possessed of the devil..."
Intrigued, they go to the mystery man for advice on how to further their
experience, and he carts them off to Kinnear's shop where they are told:
"These pieces belonged to the most evil man of all time... Dracula."
"We'll pay the price," says Hargood.
"You'll be repaid a thousand times," Courtley tells them.
"And may the devil take good care of you," adds Kinnear.
The three make their way to an abandoned church, where Courtley drinks
the reconstituted blood (probably not a good idea) and promptly expires,
begging for help from the other three (who've all bottled it). They give
him a good kicking, realise he's dead and leg it, Tucker Jenkins-style.
Of course, that's not the end, nay it's but the beginning, as thanks to
the powers of dodgy zooms, dry ice, backwards sand blowing and red contact
lenses (never pleasant), Dracula is re-born. "They have destroyed
my servant," he deadpans. "They will be destroyed."
The three make their way to their respective homes, and try to get on
with normal life. But it isn't long before Alice gets caught coming back
from a party and Hargood (gazing uncomfortably at her ample charms) tells
her: "I haven't beaten you... since you were a little girl..."
She runs away, straight into Dracula, and before you can say "the
first..." she's twatted Hargood in the head with a spade. "Nasty,
that..." says copper Michael Ripper, the next morning.
Of course, Dracula soon gets busy with the other sons and daughters, too.
Paxton gets staked by his vampirised daughter Lucy after he refuses to
put her out of her misery ("the second..."), and Secker, on
being shot by Paxton for suggesting it might be a good idea, makes it
home and drafts a letter of warning before his pointy-toothed son (Martin
Jarvis) finishes him of with a knife ("the third..." the audience
Our hero and Alice's beau, Paul, finds the letter and reads it: "Find
her, Paul! Find her before it is too late! Find her!" (Not bad writing
for a man who'd been shot in the arm). He finds the church, does a spot
of redecorating, and when Dracula makes an appearance he realises he's
in a church and promptly expires.
What makes Taste The Blood... ace is not the ending (which quite
frankly is a bit shite - Dracula resorting to chucking stuff at the goodies
from a balcony before realising-oops-he's been in a church for practically
the whole film), it's all the other stuff. Rather than re-inventing the
Dracula story with Kung Fu or modern settings, it takes the original times
and places Stoker was writing about, thinks what it can do with them,
and comes up with an idea all its own. To be honest, Dracula doesn't have
to be in it at all - it could work equally well as a Victorian era Blood
On Satan's Claw (the films are remarkably similar). Fantastic stuff
- only let down by being in the middle of the turgid Dracula
Has Risen From The Grave and the bad, bad, bad (and I don't mean bad
in the Michael Jackson way) Scars Of Dracula.
Video clip 1.5Mb
Roy Kinnear has fallen out of a horse drawn carriage (the dolt). As he makes his way through the forest on foot, he hears an unearthly scream... One of Hammer's better pre-credits scenes
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Director: Peter Sasdy Writer(s): Anthony Hinds
Cast: Christopher Lee - Dracula, Geoffrey Keen - William Hargood, Gwen
Watford - Martha Hargood, Linda Hayden - Alice Hargood, Peter Sallis - Samuel
Paxton, Anthony Higgins - Paul Paxton (as Anthony Corlan), Isla Blair - Lucy
Paxton, John Carson - Jonathan Secker, Martin Jarvis - Jeremy Secker, Ralph
Bates - Lord Courtley, Roy Kinnear - Weller, Michael Ripper - Cobb, Russell
Hunter - Felix, Shirley Jaffe - Hargood's maid, Keith Marsh - Father, Peter
May - Son, Reginald Barratt - Vicar, Madeline Smith - Dolly (as Maddy Smith),
Chai Ling - Chinese girl, Michaela Martin - Snake girl, Amber Blare - Bordello
Girl, Vicky Gillespie - Bordello Girl, June Palmer - Prostitute