For my ninth Halloween horror movie I followed up last night’s DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) with the direct sequel TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1970).This is Christopher Lee’s 4th Dracula movie – starting with DRACULA (1958), DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) and DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968).
Lee played Count Dracula in a total of 10 movies – 7 Hammer movies, a Jesse Franco film (which I intend to watch later this month, a Jerry Lewis film (?), and a French film entitled DRACULA AND SON.I’ve got mixed feelings about tonight’s movie. First off – hey, it’s Christopher Lee and he’s playing Dracula. That always works for me. Still, this movie seems a little disjointed, and that is due to a pretty good reason.Originally, Lee wasn’t going to be in this movie.
Originally, Lee wasn’t going to be in this movie. The way it happened was that Lee got wind of just how much money his portrayal of Dracula in the first three movies had made for Hammer Studios in the American market and he asked for one of two things.”I want a substantial raise,” Lee demanded. “Either that, or a percentage of what we gross in America.”
To which Hammer Studios replied – “Meh.”
So Lee was out and it was decided that his role would be taken over by a young British actor by the name of Ralph Bates. The idea was that Bates would purchase some of the blood that Dracula had spilled during his beautifully brutal death scene in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. Bates donned Dracula’s cape and his famous signet ring and then he drank the blood of Dracula – which is probably where the title came from.
At that point in the movie Bates was supposed to officially become the new Dracula. However, when the US distributor got word that Lee was being replaced they put their foot down.
“No Lee,” the distributors told Hammer Studios. “No US distribution.”
So Lee was back in.
Bates role was brutally severed, letting him die in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Now, you can imagine that Ralph Bates was pretty peeved at losing that role – but Hammer did their best to make it up to him by giving him back-to-back roles in THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTIEN (1970), LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971), and the title role in DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971).
So – getting back to TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, we’ve got Ralph Bates drinking Dracula’s blood and then spontaneously reincarnating as Christopher Lee. At that point Christopher Lee vows vengeance on three Victorian English gentleman – only he doesn’t kill them himself, he gets their daughters to kill them for him.
Which is a pretty cool idea.My one big beef with the movie is Dracula’s big finish. One of things that Hammer usually did right with Dracula was to kill him off in a really big fashion – but Dracula’s death scene (or at least his temporary death, until the next movie rolls around) really left me cold. It didn’t really seem like the hero had all that much to do with killing Dracula this time around.
My final verdict – between the two movies I’d take DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE every time. But, as a part of Hammer’s 7 movie Christopher Lee Dracula series, I still enjoyed it a lot.
Here’s the trailer to give you just a little taste..
Now – I started writing this series of October reviews – partly because I absolutely love watching horror movies in October – but mostly because I am taking part in the OCTOBER FRIGHTS BLOG HOP!
Join FIFTEEN authors, including myself, in this wild October Festival!
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Yours in storytelling,
Cool. Christopher Lee is the classic Dracula.