"I stopped appearing as Dracula in 1972 because in my opinion the presentation of the character had deteriorated to such an extent, particularly bringing him into the contemporary day and age, that it really no longer had any meaning."
Not so - that indefatigable lead portrayed the iconic bloodsucker twice thereafter: a final engagement with perennial Van Helsing Peter Cushing in this dreck's sequel (The Satanic Rites of Dracula), then a modest enactment consigned to wearisome Gallic desecration Dracula and Son. Never mind, for this third of four Ultimate Conflicts between lamia nobleman Lee (his eighth of ten portrayals) and crusading polymath physician Cushing (third of five, respectively) is tawdry, abject tedium, among the worst of Hammer's multitudinous, shopworn '70s flops.
In the wake of a carriage crash in 1872, a moribund Dr. Van Helsing dispatches faux Tepes with a stake fashioned from a tyre spoke through his transverse intestine. Evidently, both the elemental forces of evil and the senescent doctor alike have disregarded the location of the heart entirely, and so Dracula molders to powder. Dracolyte Alucard (godforsaken Christopher Neame) harvests a tube of the undead dust, and - in either surrender to astonishing indolence or adherence to a memo dispatched by Hammer executives - elects to depute the task of resurrecting the Székely monster to his great-grandson, bellwether to a flock of hipster douche bags comprised of some gallingly unsightly dorks, savagely leggy B-fixture Caroline Munro, toothsome brown sugar Marsha Hunt and MI DOLÇ CRISTO -- scrumptious, jiggling Stephanie Beacham in her prime, loveliness not a whit attenuated by bleached locks intimating Dutch lineage as Van Helsing's agnate descendant. Neame bellows doltishly with his stupid mouth and revives Dracula from a century's repose by mixing his vial of Dracaine with his own interior latex blood, dousing Ms. Munro with the resulting amalgamated slop so to promptly sacrifice her, though I can't be bothered to care in the slightest because pert, luscious Stephanie Beacham of nineteen hundred and seventy-two is prevalent herein, so why is Lee's top billing for fifteen-odd minutes of screen time really of any preponderance?
Admittedly, Cushing is again a wonder, if only for imparting perfectly credible urgency to paraphrased disquiet that he's recited at least thrice before. Michael Coles also channels desperately required respectability as a police inspector in aid to Cushing's vampire hunter. At its close, our contemporary Van Helsing slays the abomination for ever and ever and ever until the aforementioned sequel of the following year.
Recommended only for fans of Cushing and Beacham, the gifted pair personable in their banal roles...all screen time in which they're not prevalent (especially that featuring a performance by folk-rock band Stoneground that'll induce douche chills in even the hardiest viewer) may be accelerated in double-quick time. What little you've not seen before here oughtn't be seen.
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About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan (rbuchanan)
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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