Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#26 - Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1969), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)

As it's getting so close to Halloween, and I freakin' love Horror movies, you guys are getting a two-for-one deal tonight.  I DVR'd these two movies late Monday night (or early tuesday morning, depending on your point of view), and I've decided to watch and review two movies a night until they are done with.  Since there are only 6 of them, that means I finish up tomorrow night.  :-)

Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1969) is the 3rd Hammer Studios Dracula film starring Christopher Lee as the title character.  It's been a year since Dracula drowned in the river near his castle (at the end of the last movie), but the shadow of Dracula's castle falls upon a nearby church at sunset.  The castle's shadow instills a dread fear of its own, and everyone in town has stopped attending Sunday Mass at the Church.  The local Monsignor decides to visit the town and see the priest, to check on the parish a year after the death of Dracula, to make sure everything is going well.  When the local Priest explains the problem, the Monsignor decides to plant a golden cross from the church at the castle door, and read a prayer of Exorcism, to show the townsfolk that Count Dracula is well and truly dead.  The Priest and Monsignor travel up the mountain, but the Priest's spirit fails him near the top.  The Monsignor continues on to plant the cross and read the prayer, but the Priest falls and lands near the frozen corpse of Dracula, breaking the ice encasing him, and dripping fresh blood onto Dracula's eager lips.  Dracula has Risen from the Grave...

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:  Typical Dracula Horror offering from Hammer Studios, with the usual old-school special effects and typical amounts of gore.  The most interesting part of this whole tale is the Priest, who must be one of the most tortured souls in the history of horror movies.  Firstly, the Priest seems like a good man, begging God to free them of Dracula's evil, and caring for a mute altar boy.  A year after Dracula's death, the shadow of the castle has taken a toll upon the man.  He goes through the motions of giving Mass on Sundays, because there is no one in attendance, and drinks alone at the local Pub afterwards.  After Dracula rises once again, the Priest becomes enthralled by Dracula, and is forced to follow through on Dracula's evil plan to revenge himself on the Monsignor.  The Priest fights both Dracula's will, the Monsignor's influence, and his own intermittent faith throughout the movie, until finally regaining his faith long enough at the end to recite another Exorcism over Dracula's impaled and dying body.

This was easily the most religious of the Hammer Dracula horror films, and is apparently the source of some contention over the vampire mythology.  The main protagonist in this movie is an atheist (atheists weren't too popular back in Victorian-era England, but this movie was made in 1969, so they tried to reflect the times, I suppose), and he can't recite a prayer over Dracula's impaled body because he doesn't believe in God.  Christopher Lee himself said that a stake through the heart should be enough to kill a vampire without a prayer, but perhaps it's only Dracula's near-unslayable corpse that requires a prayer to put it to final rest, and that a stake through the heart is enough to dispatch of most other vampires?  Just a thought.  Moving on.

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) begins as the last movie ends (a common feature of the Dracula films from hammer studios), with Dracula's body impaled upon a golden cross.  A wandering merchant chances upon Dracula's last moments, and retrieves the Count's cloak, his broach and his ring, as the Count dissolves in the morning sunlight.  As Dracula's blood turns to powder in the daylight, the merchant scoops up what he can, saving it in a large glass vial.  Elsewhere in England, a group of elderly thrill-seekers is getting bored of playing with prostitutes, and it's only a matter of time before they find the merchant, and purchase his most prized possession, the Blood of Dracula...

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:  Holy Crap, I've found a Hammer Horror flick I haven't seen before! :-o  Well, I've seen it NOW, of course, but not before tonight!  I was shocked.  I thought I had seen them all.  Man, this is like finding a lost Picasso painting!  Well, if I was an art-lover, which I'm not.  Art is great and all, but I couldn't tell a Rembrandt from a Renoir, and I barely know who those guys are.  This movie is a little different from the standard Dracula tale, in that the main characters drop like flies, and Christopher Lee only pops up here and there to speak some ominous lines.  The plot is also a little different, but not bad, and seems to add more drama to the typical vampire vs knowledgeable clergy story line.  I won't give away the end, in case you can find it to watch somewheres, but this one also apparently has some nudity in it.  I didn't notice anything obvious, so the nudity must have been a brief glimpse of breast or something, somewhere along the way.

I was a little confused by the ending in this movie, as Dracula seems to fall prey to something I can only refer to as Religious Vertigo?  Everything up to that point was pretty good, but the ending was a little bleh.  Or "Blah, Blah Blah," as Dracula would say.  And yes, I know, he doesn't say that.  Sorry, I've seen Hotel Transylvania one too many times.  :-)  Oh, and, as you may have noticed, I'm counting each of these reviews tonight as a half, so there's technically only one review tonight.  TWO FOR ONE DEAL ON THE HORROR MOVIE REVIEW A THON!  THERE IS A GOD AFTER ALL!

In other news, there is no other news tonight.  Five more days to Halloween!  I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am!  Although I'm not sure you guys can handle the amount of fun I am having, without looking like the Joker, after he's blown Batman to teensy bitty bits.  Maybe you should have slightly less fun than that, so you don't overdose.  A fun overdose is a scary thing to behold, trust me.  I've seen it, and I still have nightmares.  Til tomorrow, then.

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