Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Halloween Contdown: Dracula AD 1972

DC Editor Adam writes

Halloween is coming and I'm a bit of a fan.

Throughout October I'm going to be sharing a few Halloween posts to accompany my ghost- and horror-themed tours over the season.

This week it's Dracula Week on the Daily Constitutional.

Back in 2018 I had a lot of fun with the guys at the Lyceum Theatre for their Halloween celebrations. Here's the result of our afternoon together…

The writer of Dracula, Bram Stoker, worked at the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End. And I'd like to launch my mini-festival of Drac-related posts here on The DC with one of my favourite film re-imaginings of Stoker's famous character…

Dracula AD 1972

I’ve blogged about this movie before, in all its ludicrous gory glory it remains a great London favourite of mine…

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? Al-u-card…? Hang on a minute!)

Only Jessica Van Helsing and her grandfather can stop him now.

Before we press on, here's the trailer…

I love this movie! What's not to love?

Often 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 slightly 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 film to go home to after a London Walks Ghost Walk.

You should also check out the YouTube channel of the famous Hammer Stdio, full of clips, trailers and fascinating horror stuff. You can also rent Hammer movies there. Click here: www.youtube.com/user/hammerfilms

Join me on the London Horror Story Tour here in London this October. I'm leading the tour on Tuesdays 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th October & Saturdays 12th, 19th & 26th October. Book here…

Keep In Touch…


No comments:

Post a Comment