Here, at long last, is the post I began some time ago about the cheesy horror movie I saw. Full disclosure: some people do not consider Hammer Studios films to be cheesy, but I have made bold to so categorize it for the purposes of this blog post.
Spoiler Alert! I am probably going to give away most of the salient plot points of Dracula A.D. 1972, so if you have not seen it and like to be surprised at developments, read no further. Also, if you have seen the movie and liked it, you also might like to read no further, because I not only did not like it, I did not pay a great deal of attention to it, so my write-up is likely to annoy you.
I DVR’d Dracula A.D. 1972 from TCM some time ago and finally got around to watching it on my recent birthday. I had hopes of getting a blog post out of it, but, well, we’ll see.
I could tell by the title that the movie takes place in what were then modern times (I guess during the ’70s it would have been Mod Times, but that’s neither here nor there), not the pseudo past we often see in horror movies, which usually means the ladies wear long dresses and everybody gets around in horse and carriage. I like the pseudo past better for a cheesy horror movie. Perhaps I’ll try to analyze why one of these Lame Post Fridays.
One might ask, “Well, why did you DVR it if you thought you weren’t going to like it?” That is the flip side of the yahoos that say, “How do you know you won’t like it when you haven’t seen it?” as if I have infinite time to watch every movie ever made! I gave this movie a chance because (1) Hammer Studios, (2) Peter Cushing AND Christopher Lee, (3) they just don’t show that many horror movies I think I am going to like.
I did not completely dislike this one. I may even watch it again to clear up my confusion on the parts I missed. In the meantime, I’ll write about what I remember.
The movie opens, as many of these movies do, with a kind of a prologue, showing something that happened long before the events of the movie proper take place. We see Peter Cushing (Van Helsing) finish off Christopher Lee (Dracula), who almost immediately crumbles into dust or, I guess, ashes. Then we see a henchman-looking guy making off with a vial full of ashes.
I talked about this when I wrote about Dracula Prince of Darkness. There is no way that guy got all the ashes! When he reconstitutes that vampire, it is going to be missing something. In Prince of Darkness it was the power of speech (oh yeah, there was a story that Lee refused to say any of the lines because the dialogue was so badly written. I like my explanation better). And so I repeat myself.
Back in “modern” times, the horror action grinds to a complete halt with a wild party scene that goes on and on. Its purpose, I suppose, it to introduce the group of young people who will fall afoul of Dracula. A worthy purpose, a very dull scene. I learned that the kids are wild and their leader is a thoroughgoing jerkface. If there were any subtleties or further character traits, I missed them.
After fleeing the police (long story), the kids repair to the pub in search of further thrills. Jerkface proposes a Black Mass. The kids are down with this, but Satan will have to bring “his own booze, his own bird, and his own pot” (I may have that quote wrong. Oh well).
As the Main Girl rides home with her Boyfriend, we learn that her grandfather is Van Helsing, presumably offspring or descendant of the guy in the first scene (following the movie tradition that descendants look EXACTLY like their forbears) (really I don’t mind this tradition; it is kind of like movie shorthand) (and makes casting easier). Boyfriend wants to consult the grandfather about Black Masses and calling up Satan and stuff, but Main Girl demurs.
We meet Peter Cushing briefly in the next scene, but it mainly shows that he has a good relationship with his granddaughter and she is not as wild as the crowd she runs with. There is no hint of any other family members, another handy arrangement common in fictional settings (oh, I’m sure it happens in real life as well. Just because I’ve never seen it).
Jerkface goes home and grabs the vial of ashes we saw in the prologue. I never saw any explanation of how he came by the ashes. A descendant of Henchman? The same guy, immortal but not as powerful as Dracula? These are the things I hope to pay more attention to if I ever watch this flick again.
So Dracula gets re-constituted at the Black Mass about 45 minutes into the movie. I made a note of it in the TV Journal but neglected to note when the prologue ended, so I don’t know how long we had to wait for him to return. I was happy to see him, because I was tired of this gang of miscreants and was ready to see them get picked off as vampire food.
Now here is a question I must look up sometime in Vampires for Dummies: When does a vampire victim become another vampire and when are they merely a bloodless corpse? Is it up to the vampire that bites them? I just mention it in passing. I have no real problem with bloodless corpses in a movie of this kind. For one reason, I don’t like to keep track of too many characters.
Speaking of keeping track of characters, have any of you been wondering whatever happened to Peter Cushing? I was, but no, he doesn’t come back yet. First we have the rather lengthy Black Mass where Jerkface adds blood and stirs well. He’s all excited to see Christopher Lee and wants congratulations on a job well done.
“It was my will,” Christopher Lee intones.
I was like, “YOUR will? How could you will any anything? Hello, you were ashes! Get over yourself!”
Well, I heard Christopher Lee had an ego and I’m sure Count Dracula did, too. I guess that immortal, blood-sucking thing could go to anybody’s head. And the fact that you CAN be re-constituted from ashes, whether or not you willed it from that state (or were completely there when re-constituted), is a pretty unusual talent. So I guess I should cut a newly un-dead vampire a break.
Anyways, I had really lost track of the plot by this time, but the police get involved when the first bloodless corpse is discovered. then Peter Cushing gets involved, because, you know, vampires and his granddaughter being friends with the corpse (before she was a corpse). The police do not tiresomely dismiss Van Helseing (Cushing) as a crackpot, that hoary cliche, but they don’t jump on board with crucifixes and wooden stakes, either.
It’s really not a bad movie. I might try to see it again if I get a chance. I don’t promise to pay more attention, but if I do perhaps I could write a better blog post about it. In the meantime, I hope at least some of you are pleased that I did not publish yet another post about Why I Can’t Write a Post.