Saturday, 27 October 2012
Dracula: It's Groovy, Baby
Here's Adam with his all-time favourite London horror movie…
DRACULA A.D 1972 (1972)
At the top of the seventh chapter in Hammer’s cycle of Dracula movies, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) lies dead. The wicked Count himself (Christopher Lee popping in the fangs for the 6th time) finds himself in a similar predicament.
Fast forward 100 years and jaded King’s Road hipster Johnny Alucard (Alucard: geddit?) and his groovy circle of friends are growing tired of earthly kicks. Seeking new, mind-blowing thrills, Alucard (ring any bells, that name?) stages a séance in the bombed out church of St Bartolph. His purpose? To summon the vampire Dracula to Swinging London. (Dracula? Alucard? Hang on a minute!)
Only Jessica Van Helsing and her grandfather can stop him now.
More Carry On Up The King’s Road than Carpathian Gothic chiller (at the height of the set-piece satanic rite, Alucard exhorts his long-haired and mini-skirted cohorts to “Dig the music, kids!”), this fang-in-cheek romp is a kitsch London classic. The film was inspired by the events of the roughly contemporaneous case of the Highgate Vampire (young north Londoners “hanging out” in Highgate Cemetery, then a much neglected London treasure, claimed to have encountered a vampire); and Chelsea is the film's uncredited star. The Cavern coffee shop, for example, is 372 Kings Road (currently an Italian restaurant).
The critical reception for the movie was decidedly mixed back in 1972, but the performances remain unimpeachable. Peter Cushing reprises his role as Van Helsing for the first time since 1960 and reins in the hysteria in his usual compellingly dignified fashion; Christopher Lee, who was openly critical of the film, is positively operatic in the role with which he will ever be associated.
A million miles from Bram Stoker it may well be. But the glimpses of London and the perfectly balanced contrast in the central performances make this film the perfect fun DVD to go home to after a London Walks Halloween Ghost Walk.
Dracula A.D 1972 is available on DVD from Warner Home Video