Written by El Puerquito Magnifico
"Past, present or future, never count out The Count!" This was the tagline for Dracula A.D. 1972, regarded by many as the worst of the Hammer Dracula films. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing reprise their roles as Count Dracula and Professor Van Helsing in this groovy update of the Dracula mythos.
The film opens with a flashback of sorts to 1872. Van Helsing and Dracula do battle on an out-of-control stagecoach, and both men end up dead. Flash forward 100 years to "modern day" England, and a group of hippies looking for kicks. Well, their kicks just keep gettin' harder to find, and all their kicks ain't bringin' them piece of mind… naturally, they decide to participate in a black mass, led by the newest member of the group, the suspiciously named Johnny Alucard.
Johnny's not out to raise the devil, but he manages to resurrect the long-dead Count Dracula. As fate would have it, one of the members of the gaggle of hippies turns out to be Jessica Van Helsing, the great-great grandaughter of the very same Professor Van Helsing who managed to slay Dracula 100 years ago. The Count makes his comeback, the slaughter begins, and Jessica's grandfather, another Professor Van Helsing, has to save the day. All of this amidst the psychedelic backdrop of swingin' 70's England.
I know a lot of folks, Christopher Lee included, think this movie is a turd, and it's not hard to see why. One gets the impression that the so-called "hip slang" the kids use was already dated by the time the movie was released, and compared to the other films in the Hammer series, this one is more than a bit lacking. Still, one has to respect a movie in which a 60-year-old man has to pull a bunch of hippies' fat out of the fire after they resurrect the Lord of Vampires.
The thing is, despite its faults, this movie is a lot of fun. It still has that gothic Hammer style that I love so much, and it's also got that cheesy 1970's wanna-be cool style that I love even more. I recognize that my tastes may not be shared by everyone, so I'll bring up the most important point – it has Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. These men, in these roles, can do no wrong. No disrespect to Bela Lugosi, but for my money, no one can touch Christopher Lee's portrayal of The Count. Granted, he is woefully underutilized in this film, only appearing in a handful of scenes, but his presence is still felt. Cushing, of course, is suave and debonair as the anthropologist/vampire hunter.
Throughout a lot of this movie, I felt like I was watching the film version of the Marvel Comics' 1970's Tomb of Dracula title. It's more than just a bit cheesy, and strays a tad into the ridiculous, but by no means do I consider either of those things to be negative. If you share those sentiments, then maybe you'll find this movie to be a good time. If you like your horror movies gory and deadly serious, this probably isn't the film for you.