[Bea’s Reviews] Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970)

“Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970)”

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While “Taste The Blood of Dracula” is not (to me) as solid as the first three canonical Dracula films from Hammer, it doesn’t have the distinct whiff of crap-burger the follow-ups have. Indeed, after watching it again specifically for this review, I can say that it would have actually worked better without the inclusion of Dracula. Seriously, this entire tale would have worked just as well if another vampiric character was the main villain. One of the main problems the later Dracula franchise had was finding convoluted ways to bring Dracula back as well as give him motivation to go on his killing sprees. In the case of “TTBOD”, this time around, he isn’t killing for himself- he’s doing it for his faithful servant!

That’s right, Dracula actually gives a damn about a scarce number of humans in the world, by way of instance here, Lord Courtley (Ralph Bates). But I’m overshooting, let’s back up a little.

Three men in what could be classified as the worst case of midlife crisis ever, are terminally bored with their bougeouise lives and bored with their families make nightly excursions to bawdy houses and other places of ill repute to get a cheap thrill, despite knowing how temporary it all is. Finally, they meet Lord Courtley, a young man who may just have the ultimate thrill… and a Satanist. As the three men find out, this ultimate thrill is to resurrect Dracula using several artifacts and powdered blood (admittedly, it’s not too badly thought out, though come on… POWDERED blood? Dracula isn’t a protein shake!)

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More tea, Vicar?

Despite their initial foolish impulses to follow through on this dark ritual, and despite Courtley’s goading, the three men back out and kill Courtley in not just fright but also a sudden onset of conscience. However, the damage has already been done and Drac is back with a new plan of attack. Angry that his loyal servant has been killed, Dracula takes it upon himself to kill not only the elderly thrill seekers, but their entire families- kinda reminds you of a certain Keyser Soze, doesn’t it?

Alright, now is this a bad film? No. If you get over the fact that it’s Dracula, it’s actually a lot of fun with the usual lush production values Hammer utilised with ample bloodshed and titillation to spare. It still retains a distinct set of class to add to the ridiculous fun. I believe however that Dracula really has no reason to be here. The character of Lord Courtley was originally meant to be the lead villain, and I would have loved to have seen that. Ralph Bates has the charisma, menace and handsome looks to carry off a vampiric character and I found him quite magnetic every time he was on screen. In fact, the story did have Courtley as the vampire with no mention of Dracula. Hammer’s distribution studio refused to accept a film without Lee because they wanted to cash in on Dracula further and it was this that made Lee contemptuous of the character with movies to come- he did it, but he didn’t dig it. At least here though, he is still a joy to watch as he punishes fool humans left and right and taking some thrall women on the side.

What lifts this production from potential dirge is also the underlying message that humans have a tendency to mess with what they don’t understand and get burned for it. The three old thrill seekers see the error of their ways when Dracula sets to work on their families and they realize how foolish they have been in their own selfish pursuits. There is no Van Helsing to chastise them on the idiocy of their ways- it’s a hard lesson they find out for themselves, too little, too late. One could almost say this is a Sins of the Father fable which sees their children having to contend with Dracula due to the fact their fathers screwed up. I’m not going to mention the whole fact that Dracula is doing this out of revenge for a human servant, no matter how faithful they were- this development was obviously a money-grabbing excuse to bring Dracula back, nothing more. It’s not Lee’s fault by any means, he was on contract after all and he did what he could, but this is a silly movie with enough redeeming features to make it entertaining, but it’s not enough to lift it’s credibility. If I have anything to say, see it if you are curious or if you are a completest of the series, don’t see it if you are looking for a solid film with Dracula as it’s center, something which this is not.

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A metaphor for my ranking

Review written by Bea Harper

Rating:
StarRating-03

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