Dracula A.D. 1972
Dracula A.D. 1972 is a 1972 horror film, directed by Alan Gibson and produced by Hammer Film Productions. It was written by Don Houghton and stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Stephanie Beacham. Unlike earlier films in Hammer's Dracula series, Dracula A.D. 1972 had (at the time of filming) a contemporary setting, in an attempt to update the Dracula story for modern audiences. Dracula is brought back to life in modern London and preys on a group of young partygoers that includes the descendant of his nemesis, Van Helsing.
|Dracula A.D. 1972|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alan Gibson|
|Produced by||Michael Carreras|
|Written by||Don Houghton|
|Music by||Mike Vickers|
|Edited by||James Needs|
|Distributed by||Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK)|
Warner Bros. Pictures (US)
It is the seventh Hammer film featuring Dracula, and the sixth to star Christopher Lee in the title role. It also marked the return of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing for the first time since The Brides of Dracula (1960), and was the first to feature both Lee and Cushing in their respective roles since Dracula (1958).
It was followed by the last film in Hammer's Dracula series to star Christopher Lee, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, which similarly utilized a modern setting and featured most of the same central characters.
In 1872, Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) and his nemesis Lawrence Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) battle on the top of a runaway coach. The carriage crashes and Dracula is partly impaled by one of the wheels. In the struggle, Van Helsing manages to fully push the wheel into the vampire's chest, staking him. This done, Van Helsing collapses and dies from his own wounds. At that moment, a follower of Dracula (Christopher Neame) arrives, collects Dracula's remains and, a few days later, buries them near Van Helsing's grave at St Bartolph's Church.
A century later, a new generation of Britons appear who move the tale along: in this case, a group of young hippies that includes Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham), granddaughter of Lorrimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), an occult expert and descendant of Dracula's old nemesis, and Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame), who closely resembles the disciple of Dracula seen in 1872. Alucard persuades Jessica and the others to attend a black magic ceremony in the now abandoned, deconsecrated St Bartolph's, where he performs a bloody ritual involving one of their group, Laura Bellows (Caroline Munro). Jessica and the others flee in horror, after which Dracula is resurrected and kills Laura.
Laura's body is discovered, drained of blood, and a police investigation begins, headed by Inspector Murray (Michael Coles). Murray suspects an occult element and interviews Lorrimer Van Helsing, who is shocked to learn the details of Laura’s death. He realises that Johnny Alucard (whose name is Dracula written backwards) is a disciple of Dracula, and that the Count must have returned.
In the meantime, Alucard brings another of Jessica’s friends, Gaynor Keating (Marsha Hunt), to St. Bartolph's, where she is killed by Dracula and Alucard willingly has himself turned into a vampire. The vampiric Alucard kills a passerby and lures Jessica’s boyfriend, Bob (Philip Miller), to a café they frequent, where he turns him into a vampire as well. While Lorrimer is out, Bob goes to the Van Helsing house and persuades Jessica to come to the café, where he and Alucard capture her and take her to Dracula.
Aided by one of Jessica's friends, Lorrimer tracks Alucard to his flat and battles him. Alucard accidentally kills himself with the running water in the bathroom shower. At St Bartolph's, Lorrimer finds Bob's dead body, slain by sunlight before he could reach his resting place, and Jessica in a trance, with Dracula planning to take his revenge on the Van Helsing family by turning her into a vampire. Lorrimer sets a trap for Dracula by placing a pit of stakes underneath the graveyard and waits for him to return at nightfall. The two have a struggle in which Lorrimer attempts to kill Dracula with a silver knife, but the knife is pulled out by Jessica, still under Dracula’s command.
As the pair go outside, Lorrimer throws holy water at Dracula, which burns his hands and causes him to fall into the pit of stakes that Van Helsing had previously prepared. Realising Dracula is still barely alive, Lorrimer uses a shovel to push Dracula into the stakes even further. Dracula dies, his body crumbling into ashes, and his spell over Jessica is broken. As Jessica embraces her grandfather, the title "Rest in Final Peace" is shown.
The film's opening sequence was not in the previous film, Scars of Dracula (1970), but is completely new and sets up a new short series of the Hammer Horror Dracula chronology finishing in the following film, The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973). This film's prologue takes place in 1872 and therefore is impossible to reconcile with the previous films in the series, the chronology of which starts in 1885 as described in the 1958 original.
- Christopher Lee as Count Dracula
- Peter Cushing as Lorrimer Van Helsing / Lawrence Van Helsing
- Stephanie Beacham as Jessica Van Helsing
- Christopher Neame as Johnny Alucard / follower of Dracula (1872)
- Marsha Hunt as Gaynor Keating
- Caroline Munro as Laura Bellows
- Janet Key as Anna Bryant
- Michael Kitchen as Greg
- Lally Bowers as Matron Party Hostess
- Flanagan as Go Go Dancer (uncredited)
- Stoneground as Themselves
- Michael Coles as Inspector Murray
- William Ellis as Joe Mitcham
- Philip Miller as Bob
- David Andrews as Detective Sergeant
- Constance Luttrell as Mrs. Donnelly
- Michael Daly as Charles
- Artro Morris as Police Surgeon
- Jo Richardson as Crying Matron
- Brian John Smith as Hippy Boy
- Penny Brahms as Hippy Girl
Following the success of the modern-day vampire film Count Yorga, Vampire, Warner Bros commissioned two Hammer Dracula films set in the present day, which were to become Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Dracula A.D. 1972 began production in September 1971 as Dracula Today and was filmed in Chelsea and Hertfordshire. The film was inspired by the events surrounding the Highgate Vampire case.
While the two present-day Dracula films star both Lee and Cushing, they do not correspond to the chronology established in the Victorian/Edwardian-era films; the first Hammer Dracula film, Dracula, is set in the 1880s, whereas the flashback sequence of the last battle between Van Helsing and Dracula in Dracula A.D. 1972 is set in 1872—long before the first meeting of Van Helsing and Dracula in the original film.
For the Black Mass segment, the film used the track "Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell" by the pioneering electronic group White Noise, from their 1969 album An Electric Storm; Neame's dialogue was later sampled by Orbital for "Satan Live" and "Tension".
Dracula A.D. 1972 was marketed with the taglines "Past, present or future, never count out the Count!" and "Welcome back, Drac!" When it was released in the United States, a brief clip was played before the film in which actor Barry Atwater (the vampire Janos Skorzeny in The Night Stalker) rises from a coffin and swears the entire audience in as members of the Count Dracula Society.
Critical reaction to Dracula A.D. 1972 has been mixed to negative. Upon the film's release, Roger Ebert gave the film only 1 star out of 4, while Clyde Jeavons of The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "an abortive and totally unimaginative attempt to update the Bram Stoker legend to present-day Chelsea," adding that "the attempt to reconcile Transylvania with S.W.3 merely sends the script haywire ('Close the devil's circle—dig the music, kids!') ... even that old stand-by, unintentional humour, has been torpedoed by an arch script which insultingly begs for laughs with lines like, 'She's a bit drained,' and 'Come in for a bite.'"
Dennis Prince of DVD Verdict said, "Dracula A.D. 1972 is definitely one of the weakest installments in Hammer's horror catalog and will likely only have strong appeal to Dracula completists." Eccentric Cinema wrote, "One can have a fun time with this movie—mostly because of its faults. It's cheese all right, professionally made cheese that's much better acted and staged than it really has any right to be."
The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review called the film "a major disappointment" and "the low-point of the whole Hammer Dracula series" despite "minor positive aspects". George R. Reis of DVD Drive-In wrote, "Considered a low point in Hammer's roster, Dracula A.D. 1972 is hardly that. ... [T]he film has a number of things going for it. ... Cushing's exceptional Van Helsing pretty much carries the film. ... Christopher Neame is charismatically evil as Johnny Alucard [and] his stirring fight scene with Van Helsing is a highlight. ... How can Hammer fans not like this stuff?"
In his 2017 book on vampire movies of the 1970s, author Gary A. Smith wrote that looking back on the film, "what seemed like a terrible idea back in 1972, really isn't so dire after all. Now, so far removed from its contemporary setting, the swinging London of Dracula A.D. 1972 seems as much a period piece as the Victorian settings of its predecessors. The main problem with the film is that Dracula is confined to the ruins of a Gothic church and never really interacts with the modern world."
The film, despite its generally mixed reception, has some prominent admirers and supporters. American film director Tim Burton at one point claimed it to be among his favourite films, and English author, film critic and horror expert Kim Newman chose it as one of his Top 10 favourite vampire movies.
The soundtrack was composed by former Manfred Mann member Mike Vickers, and is in a funky, "blaxploitation" style that reflects the early 1970s setting of the film. It was first released commercially in 2009 on CD. The film also featured two songs, "Alligator Man" and "You Better Come Through for Me", by the American band Stoneground (a late replacement for the Faces), which were included as bonus tracks on the CD.
- BSX Records (BSXCD 8855)
- Release date: 4 May 2009
- Limited edition of 1,500 copies
- Track listing
- "Warner Bros. Logo (Theme from Dracula)" – 0:09
- "Prologue/Hyde Park 1872" – 4:28
- "Main Theme: Dracula A.D. 1972" – 2:04
- "Johnny Looks at Ring/Legend of Dracula" – 1:01
- "Devil's Circle Music" – 3:52
- "Baptism by Blood" – 5:18
- "Dracula Rising/The Blood Ritual/Laura Screams" – 2:37
- "Dracula Returns/Dracula Bites Laura" – 2:55
- "Alucard = Dracula/Not the One!/Give Me the Power!" – 4:15
- "Dumping the Body/Van Helsing Prepares/Jessica Walks Into the Trap" – 2:09
- "Van Helsing Heads to the Club" – 1:35
- "Van Helsing Confronts Johnny/Johnny's Ignoble Death Scene" – 3:56
- "Johnny Be Really Dead!/Van Helsing at the Church/Van Helsing Confronts Dracula/Rest in Final Peace/Main Theme: Dracula A.D. 1972 (Reprise)" – 11:50
- Bonus tracks
- "You Better Come Through for Me" – 3:29
- Composed by Tim Barnes (ASCAP), performed by Stoneground
- "Alligator Man" – 3:29
- Written by Sal Valentino (BMI), performed by Stoneground
- Total duration: 53:07
The film was released on Blu-ray in 2018 by the Warner Archive Collection.
The film was released on DVD in 2005 by Warner Home Video in the United Kingdom, United States and Germany. It was released as Dracula A.D. 1972 in the UK and US and as Dracula jagt Mini-Mädchen in Germany.
- Ellis, Bill. "The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt". Folklore. 104.
- Roger Ebert (13 December 1972). "Dracula A. D. 1972". suntimes.com. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- Jeavons, Clyde (November 1972). "Dracula A.D. 1972". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 39 (466): 231.
- "DVD Verdict Review - Dracula A.D. 1972". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- DRACULA A.D. 1972 – eccentric-cinema.com Archived 22 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review Archived 10 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Dracula A.D. 1972". dvddrive-in.com. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- Smith, Gary A. (2017). Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 16. ISBN 9781476625591.
- Christopher Lee (Actor), Peter Cushing (Actor) (2007). 4 Film Favorites: Draculas (Dracula A.D. 1972, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Horror of Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula) [4 Film Favorites: Draculas] (Motion Picture DVD). Burbank, California: Warner Home Video. ASIN B000U1ZV7G. ISBN 9781419859076. OCLC 801718535.
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