Dracula AD 1972
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The elements that worked against Dracula AD 1972 at the time of its theatrical release now appear to work in its favor-from a contemporary upgrade that pits the resurrected Count (Christopher Lee) against the grandson of his Victorian nemesis Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) in London's trendy Chelsea district to the with-it dialogue ("Dig the music, kids!"), rock-inspired soundtrack, and cadre of youthful protagonists who come off as a more decadent and disposable Scooby-Doo gang. With Hammer in decline, the studio reteamed Lee and Cushing in their signature roles for the first time since Dracula (US: Horror of Dracula, 1958), and for the first time in a Hammer picture since She (1965) six years earlier. Though Lee had been disinclined to participate and was fielding offers from abroad, the sudden collapse of several proposed film projects forced him back into his Dracula cape; during shooting, Lee went the extra mile of importing to the set a box of earth he had acquired from Transylvania, hoping the ritual would help him get into character. Now familiar faces among the supporting cast include Stephanie Beacham (later a regular on the American prime time soap opera Dynasty and its spinoff The Colbys) and Michael Kitchen (star of ITV's detective series Foyle's War) but contributing the film's most infectiously outré performance is Christopher Neame as satanic adapt Johnny Alucard, a cross between Michael Caine's Alfie and Malcolm McDowell's Alex from A Clockwork Orange (1971). If not quite a camp classic on par with The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Dracula AD 1972 remains a party favorite, as sincerely beloved as it is mercilessly mocked.
By Richard Harland Smith