Saturday, October 31, 2020

Hammer Watch: Dracula A.D. 1972

Watched:  10/28/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Alan Gibson

So, we skipped a Dracula movie in there because we read it was super not good, and Jamie's been watching these with me, and I'm trying not to make her hate this.  I have a weird fondness for this very not good movie, which I'd seen before and picked up on discount on BluRay.  But, you know, from a critical standpoint, and through the eyes of 2020, it's hard to say Dracula A.D. 1972 aged particularly well.  

Oddly enough, just before this we were watching Dracula 2000, which I saw in the theater and then immediately forgot, and it ALSO aged poorly.  There's something about forcing the youth culture of the year of a movie's release on Dracula that...  anyway.

For budget and other reasons, there's always this urge to update Dracula and bring him into the modern era - after all, Stoker didn't write Dracula as a period piece, it just makes more sense occurring in the late 19th Century than it does much beyond 1931 (and that first Dracula film is weirdly undateable as you're watching it, much like Frankenstein).  But this movie doesn't just say "the year is 1972", it really leans into crossing up Dracula with the swinging London culture of the time, and the most obnoxious aspects of counter-culture.  

After all, post-prologue, we're introduced to some of our leads as they crash a stuffy party in a London home full of people in formal wear, really freaking out the squares.  As goofy and badly dated as the scene is - it also sets the tone for how (intentionally? unintentionally?) clueless/ reckless the characters we'll meet truly are.  But it ALSO gave us the now famous party outfit for Caroline Munro - which will trick some viewers (cough) into thinking she's going to be the lead.*

I'd think she'd be chilly

So, we meet a "group" (which is thrown around as some counter-culture term) of young people who have all been taken over by the obnoxious "charmer", Johnny Alucard.  Alucard talks them into performing a "black mass", which you may recall from our last viewing, is a very bad idea.  In fact, this film has a LOT in common with that film vis-a-vis Londoners partying their way right into summoning Dracula.

However, one of The Group is the granddaughter of the grandson (Peter Cushing) of Laurence Van Helsing (Peter Cushing).  And it turns out this is a very long game by Dracula to get his revenge on the Van Helsing bloodline.  Apparently he had to wait 100 years for a Van Helsing to be born who displayed the right level of dipshittery to want to summon a demon as a party trick.

However, Dracula only gets the better part of a week before his plans fall apart and Van Helsings start looking to shut him down.  

All in all, it's not awful, but the youth-culture stuff seems oddly tone-deaf.  As a movie of its time, it doesn't contextualize the The Group, they simply are - and a remake would have to do some heavy lifting to explain 1972 to an audience 50 years on.  

When we do our Friday night Interactive movie sessions, one thing that gets discussed a lot is how much lifting the music is doing for a movie as it builds tension, etc...  The music in this movie seems to actively work *against* the film.  I'm not sure seeing Peter Cushing racing after Dracula is when I want to employ a wah peddle.  

*she is not

1 comment:

mcsteans said...

My takeaway from this movie was that Van Helsing's first name is Larry.