Sunday, September 19, 2004
Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires
I managed to pick up a DVD of this Hammer title recently and watching it I realised how much you forget, just how good the old Hammer films were. I think I must have seen this one before, but to be honest I couldn't remember that much about it. However it's a cracking mix of Hong Kong Kung Fu style action, vampires, Dracula and ladies with their tops off. I was impressed with the fights, fast and furious, and the idea that this rag-tag band of people could cross the wilderness to battle seven decaying zombified vampires was somewhat hilarious. I loved the make-ups for the risen dead - all skeletal and decaying - but I wondered how they got back to their graves ... when they first rise, they are all but fricaseed by Cushing and pals, and yet next time, they all rise from the same graves again ... obviously something clever going on there. Unfortunately John Forbes-Robertson as Dracula at the start and end looks as though he has just been playing the part on stage - his make up is simply dreadfully overdone. He's also really chatty, but it's a blessing when Shen Chan takes over for the bulk of the film as he's just so much better. When the zombie-vampires rise, I was interested to see that some of them seem to be hopping - hopping Vampires is a Chinese phenomenon that I know about from films like Mr Vampire, and I guess that the Chinese extras roped in for the sequence either weren't told what to do and some just made it up, or that the director knew about the differing mythologies and asked some of them to move like that. Whatever the reason, the pack of jogging/hopping/running corpses is really quite impressive. The ending rather lets it all down, when Dracula turns back into Forbes-Robertson in the hallway, and Cushing manages to spear him first time. Some good disintegration effects ensue. But what on earth is that (very small) vat of boiling blood doing in the lair ... and why does one of the vampires seem to emit steam when it's bat medallion is taken near the start ...? The great thing about these films is that even the bits that don't make sense add to the whole, and overall the film is just great fun. Even Julie Ege gets to do something, even if her death at the end is somewhat gory and nasty.