Friday, July 23, 2010

The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula aka The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)

There are some concepts that sound like a bunch of fans got together and played a game of "what if".

"What if Dracula went to China and had to fight these Kung Fu masters?"

"And Peter Cushing as Van Helsing teams up with them and helps stop Dracula, that would be rad."

Hammer, as it entered the 1970s found itself struggling to stay a float. Gothic horror didn't play for an audience who watched a war televised every night during supper. It was during this period that Hammer added more sex to their films and tried bending the formula a bit. During this time we got "Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde" (1971), "Dracula AD 1972" (1972) and my favorite "The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula" or "The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" from 1974.

Hammer saw the popularity of Kung Fu films in the early 70s and decided to cash in with a co production with Shaw Brothers Studios (one of Hong Kong's biggest maker of martial arts films). They set the film in China of the past, unlike the last two Dracula films that were set in (then) modern London. Hammer director Roy Ward Baker was credited as the director, but Shaw Brothers' top action director Chang Chen also directed part of the film, most likely all the Kung-Fu sequences.

They got Cushing to reprise his role of Van Helsing but Christopher Lee turned down the role (which isn't surprising considering he seem to hate the role going back to the late 1960s). For most of the picture Dracula was disguised in the body of a evil monk, which got around not having Lee. The bookends where Dracula does appear they hired John Forbes-Robertson, who they made up to look like Lee. This would be the only time Hammer hired someone other than Lee to perform Dracula.

I first saw this film in the 1980s played late into the night on a local channel and fell in love with it. Who can't love Kung-Fu and vampires in one film? This is a fun film and I don't think people really give it a chance. I have the Anchor Bay DVD, which has both versions of the film, the uncut European "Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" and the version that played in American theaters "The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula", which I understand is no longer available.

By the mid-seventies Hammer's output declined sharply, and this would be their last foray into the world of Dracula*.

*Hammer Film had been bought and is making new product, but as of this writing no new Dracula films are in the pipeline.

Until Next Time,

Stay Insane!

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