|Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)|
|Starring:||Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Christopher Neame, Caroline Munro and Stephanie Beacham|
The film is such an odd duck. Starting off by showcasing the distinctions between modern youth and a stuffy older generation, the movie has a very energetic beginning. The opening “party” sequence, which features all of the youthful cast making guesses about when the cops will show up to a party that they have crashed, is very engaging. It shows humor, some modern rebellion, interesting visuals… indeed, the movie starts off with its best foot forward. Johnny Alucard is actually a very interesting villain within the film, setting the movie up in a very dark and menacing way. As things progress, and he holds the black mass that becomes a center-point for the movie, he shows how intense a character he can be. The black mass sequence is certainly a highlight, as we watch Alucard go into a fit of angry shouting and enraged grimaces. Alucard’s monologue during the scene is filled with references to legitimate demonology and black magic, crafting something very morbid and slightly disturbing. By the time he pours his chalice, filled with blood and ash, over a young girl’s body, we know that something really wicked is afoot.
Surprisingly, Dracula is missing from the movie for nearly the entire first half hour. Then, even after that he doesn’t make regular appearances within the movie until everything starts to build to a close. Some might be disappointed by this turn of events, but it’s always interesting to see a series deviate from expectations. Yet, this also means that the movie slows down a great deal without a strong antagonist. Johnny Alucard is interesting enough, but even his role is delegated less time after a certain point. The movie lacks in the action department, but when things do pick up, they provide a decent amount of interest. Truthfully, once the police become involved, a certain percentage of the movie starts to reflect a police procedural drama. The combination of Van Helsing’s search and the police officer closing in on Dracula, it begins to give the movie a classical “vampire story” vibe, but only this time there is far less of Dracula sneaking in through unlocked windows. He has Johnny Alucard in a Renfield-esque role, but only without the bug eating. If a lack of Dracula action sounds like it might make the story seem less involving, then you’ve probably guessed right. Despite there being moments of pure entertainment found in the movie, Dracula A.D. 1972 proves to be missing a strong ingredient when it comes to making a great vampire story.