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Cult members unwittingly resurrect Dracula in swinging London.
In September 1872, vampire hunter Lawrence Van Helsing is fighting with notorious vampire Count Dracula in a stagecoach racing through London's Hyde Park. Dracula is thrown onto the broken spokes of a wheel when the coach overturns, and the mortally injured Lawrence pushes a wooden spoke through Dracula's chest, killing him. After the monster disintegrates, his minion takes his signet ring, some of his ashes and the stake that killed him. When Lawrence is buried at nearby St. Bartolph's church, the minion buries the ashes just outside the hallowed grounds and plants the stake into the site to mark it until the vampire can be resurrected. One hundred years later, Johnny Alucard, the descendent of Dracula's servant, is the leader of a group of young, well-educated and affluent residents of Chelsea who like to play at being decadent hippies. One evening at their usual haunt, the Cavern coffee bar, Johnny asks the others to join him in a black mass. Although their reactions range from sarcasm to fear, the others, ranging in age from late teens to early twenties, agree to meet Johnny that midnight at St. Bartolph's, which is due to be demolished and has been desanctified. Lawrence's grandson, Lorrimer Van Helsing, lives in Chelsea and is a professor specializing in the occult. Living with him is his granddaughter Jessica, who is one of the more pragmatic of Johnny's followers. Jessica debates attending the ceremony with her boyfriend, Robert Tarrant, but Bob persuades her that it will be a laugh. That night, Bob and Jessica locate a hole in the fence surrounding St. Bartolph's and enter the desolate grounds, where Jessica is distressed to find Lawrence's headstone. Inside the church, Bob chides Johnny for his insensitivity, but Jessica tells him to "cool it," and the ceremony begins. While the others sit in a circle, Johnny stands at the altar, and, wearing Dracula's signet ring, calls upon Satan and Dracula. Johnny commands Jessica to join him in a baptism of blood, but the frightened girl demurs and her friend, Laura Jane Bellows, ascends in her place. After putting some of Dracula's ashes in a chalice, Johnny slits his wrist, and blood fills the vessel, then spills onto Laura. As Laura screams, the others run off, including Jessica, although she wants to stay to help. Johnny removes the stake from Dracula's grave, and after the vampire revives and takes back his ring, he sinks his teeth into Laura's neck, draining her of blood. Bob tries to reassure the worried Jessica, but the next day, Laura is not at the Cavern, and Jessica is suspicious of Johnny's claim that she is visiting her parents. Soon after, Laura's body is discovered, and the police are mystified about the mutilations to her neck. That evening, while Johnny takes Gaynor Keating, another member of the gang, to his apartment, Inspector Murray and Sgt. Pearson of New Scotland Yard question Van Helsing, hoping that he can explain the murder, which Murray thinks may be the work of a demonic cult. Upon learning of the mutilations, Van Helsing states that the additional wounds were made to disguise the real cause of death: vampirism. Van Helsing shrugs off Murray's skepticism, stating that his grandfather died while killing the most powerful vampire of all time, and that such evil can exist in the twentieth century. When Jessica arrives home and learns of Laura's murder, she tearfully informs the policemen about the black mass and about Johnny, who insinuated himself into her circle of friends a few months previously. Van Helsing is interested to learn that Johnny's surname is Alucard, and while he puzzles out that it is Dracula spelled backward, Johnny takes the drugged Gaynor to St. Bartolph's, where Dracula kills her. Johnny begs Dracula to make him immortal, and when Dracula growls that Johnny has not yet brought Jessica, the means with which he will revenge himself on the Van Helsing family, Johnny asserts that he would be able to lure Jessica there if he had more power. Dracula assents and soon Johnny has killed his first victim. The next morning, after gathering a vial of holy water, Van Helsing learns about the latest murders from Murray. Theorizing that the killings are not random, and that Jessica is the ultimate target, Van Helsing pleads with Murray for help. Murray agrees to remove the guards from St. Bartolph's so that Dracula can hide there comfortably and be more susceptible to Van Helsing's plans, but states that the Cavern has been closed. That night, Bob sneaks into the locked Cavern, where Johnny turns him into a vampire. The transformed Bob goes to the Van Helsing home and persuades Jessica, who does not perceive the change in him, to accompany him to the Cavern. Once there, Jessica faints upon being attacked by Bob. Johnny prevents him from biting her, however, telling him that she is "for the master." When Van Helsing learns that Jessica is gone, he races to the Cavern, but it is empty by the time he arrives. As he is running through the streets, he is almost run over by Anna Bryant, another friend of Jessica, who drives him to Johnny's flat. There, Van Helsing confronts the young vampire, who refuses to tell him Jessica's location. After a prolonged struggle, Van Helsing succeeds in overpowering Johnny, who dies upon being exposed to the clear, running water of his shower. Unable to do anything else because the vampires are inactive during daylight, Van Helsing waits till the late afternoon. He then goes to St. Bartolph's, where he finds Bob's dead body and digs a pit that he fills with sharpened stakes. Equipped with a silver-bladed knife and the holy water, Van Helsing enters the church, where he finds Jessica, in a trance induced by Dracula, lying on the altar. When Dracula enters, the men begin a fierce battle, which seems ended when Van Helsing stabs the vampire and he falls from the balcony to the floor below. Jessica, still hypnotized, removes the knife, however, and Dracula chases Van Helsing outside. Van Helsing falls to the ground, but before the triumphant vampire can kill him, he tosses the vial of holy water at him. Blinded by smoke and screaming in pain, Dracula falls into the pit of spikes, and Van Helsing kills him by pushing him onto one of the stakes. Released from her trance, Jessica runs to her grandfather, who comforts her as they leave the graveyard.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||PG||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 Nov 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros., Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Warner Bros., Inc., Hammer Film Productions, Ltd.|
|Duration(mins):||83, 95 or 100||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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One of the more groovier & hip additions to the ever lovable Hammer vampire series! My fave of the late great Christopher Lee. Horror & suspense...