Wednesday, February 3, 2016

'Taste the Blood of Dracula' review

Taste the Blood of Dracula
Hammer, UK, 1970, Rated R
Starring Christopher Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Gwen Watford
Directed by Peter Sasdy

   This movie is awful and good. The biggest complaint is, of course, the lack of Dracula. He has very little screen time, and I adore Christopher Lee. On the other hand, his lines were terrible, so maybe it all balanced out: hoping for more Dracula and then hoping for less when it came.
   The worst part of the film is the stupid brothel scene near the beginning. There was absolutely no reason to show bare breasts (it is very brief) and the snake dance---egad! Having a python on your shoulders does not make you a good dancer.
   Also, I found the character motivation lacking at times. Why did Dracula care that those guys killed his servant when it obviously brought him back to life? Why did Alice's father hate Paul (why was there inevitably a character named Paul in all of the Hammer movies?).
   All of that said, this movie looks delicious. Even the blood, it was like oozing pie filling or strawberry jam. Made me want to taste the blood of Dracula.
   The sets were gorgeous and the lighting was good. I loved the garden at Alice's house, where she climbed down the tree to meet Paul beside the fountain in the moonlight. The abandoned church was lovely (the Satanic altar cloth, not so much) and the one house had an abundance of Indian swords and daggers on the wall. The costumes looked good, too...always a bit questionable about whether or not they stayed strictly true to the time period.
   I can never judge acting in these old movies because it's clearly a different standard. I thought Alice was good, mainly because she was so sweet and then turned into a creepy psycho under Dracula's power. She was really cute, too. I liked her story line with Paul and would have liked to see more of them and less of...whatever else was going on.
   What was going on? It was actually pretty good (though lacking much logic), the deaths were good (meaning delightfully awful), but I couldn't understand why Lucy turned straight into a vampire and Alice didn't. I also didn't get Alice's death. Or Dracula's, for that matter. Although I liked the part where he threw organ pipes at them while they yelled around and didn't run.
   All in all, I really enjoyed this film for some reason, even though Christopher Lee's performance was a bit lacking. It was a romp, delightfully weird, creepy, awful, fairly stupid, but fun and good looking!
   My favorite Hammer Dracula will continue to be 'Dracula Has Risen From The Grave,' which I think is actually pretty good, all reduced-old-movie-standards aside.

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