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Movies From the Black lagoon: Taste the Blood of Dracula
Movies From the Black lagoon: Taste the Blood of Dracula - 1970, Rated R
Dracula takes a bite out of the filthy rich (and promptly spits it back out) in this horror effort from "Hammer Pictures" that plays like a cross between a vampire flick and any of the "Death Wish" movies. Hammer movies tend to hit the ground running and this one is no exception.
Before the opening credits roll we are treated to a scene wherein a chubby salesman gets pitched off of a carriage for trying to sell trinkets to his fellow passengers. He stumbles upon Dracula's death scene from the previous movie ("Dracula has Risen from the Grave") and watches in astonishment as he melts into a large puddle of the wet stuff. Not one to miss an opportunity, the salesman promptly gathers up the monster's remains, which include blood, an amulet, a signet ring, and the ever-popular cloak.
Next we meet three well-to-do gentleman as they leave Sunday services - it's a sly touch as this bunch (called The Circle) prefers to spend the last Sunday evening of every month hitting a brothel in London and seeking morbid thrills to prop up their unsatisfactory lives. The Circle is a kind of "Fright Club" and the first rule is that no one talks about the group. Their families are totally in the dark about these monthly meetings. They get just what they're looking for in the form of a nobleman, Lord Courtly, who has fallen from grace after being accused of worshipping the devil.
They take Courtly to dinner and he convinces them to try something really scary - a black mass to resurrect Dracula. He introduces them to the salesman glimpsed in the pre-credits sequence and these fools are soon parted from their money and become the proud owners of Dracula's effects. Courtly leads them to an abandoned church and dons the cape while pouring Dracula's blood into four goblets. He then mixes in his own blood but The Circle backs off and refuses to drink. This is their only wise decision as one sip sends Courtly into a coughing fit. The Circle is momentarily shocked but then takes action and proceeds to stomp the choking nobleman into an early grave. They then split and miss the main act as Dracula erupts from Courtly's body and vows to slay the men who killed his servant.
Now this turns into a revenge flick as the dark one hunts down each man and makes him pay for his sins. What makes this whole thing work is how nasty he does it. The fanged one opts to use his powers of hypnosis to make sure that each member of The Circle dies by the hand of their own children. This leads to some pretty graphic deaths for a Hammer film, which include a shovel to the head, a dagger to the belly, and the odd deaths by fangs.
It's all well rendered by the Hammer approach, which includes Gothic sets, plenty of heaving bosoms barely constrained by extra tight corsets, and a fair amount of gore. The real sell here is the return of Christopher Lee to his signature role. Despite the fact that he's saddled with lame dialog, Lee, who believed the character should have been mute, manages to rise above the words and embody Bram Stoker's classic character. He adds a touch of class to the proceedings and is surrounded by a capable cast, who include Peter Sallis (Wallace of "Wallace and Gromit" fame) as the most cowardly member of The Circle.
Best Line: "I'll shoot you again if you don't get out."
Tom Doty will be emerging from the Lagoon to meet fellow genre movie fans at Borders in Hagerstown on the September 18th. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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