Okay. So we told you about the celluloid hodgepodges of two the Harrys, aka Hope and Tampa, with their respective films Smokey and the Judge (from our “Fast and Furious Week”) and Nocturna (from our now showing “Vampire Week”).
Now, if you enjoyed (I sure did!), but thought Hope’s grafting hicksploitation into disco was nuts, and that Tampa’s splicing vampires into disco was insane, then you’ll go bonkers for this intercontinental boondoggle of a co-production between Britain’s horrormeisters Hammer Studios and Hong Kong martial arts purveyors Shaw Brothers:
In 1804 seven vampires clad in gold masks were resurrected by Count Dracula. 100 years later, in 1904, Professor Van Helsing is hired to kill the fanged hoards.
We’re not kidding. That’s the plot: A mix of ancient Chinese legends with Bram Stoker-inspired vampires—who just happen to be martial arts masters—and experienced Hammer vampire hunter extraordinaire Peter Cushing. The ensuing 75-minutes of karate bloodsucking mayhem became one of the biggest bombs in cinema history and shut the doors on Hammer Studios. And caveat those alternate titles of The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula and Dracula and the Seven Golden Vampires. In the end, is this as bad as the bunny-hopping vampires in the Mill Creek public domain ditty Robo Vampire (1988)? No. Did this need, not backflipping vamps, but Qing Dynasty Jiangshi-inspired vamps of the Midnight Vampire variety? Yes. . . but this Roy Ward Baker-directed fangsocky is way, way better than Nocturna, that’s for sure. (We’re blowing out Robo Vampires as part of our tribute to the 50-Film Mill Creek set, Sci-Fi Invasions, in November; sorry, shameless plug.)
So . . . do we blame Roy Ward Baker for this? Hah, he gave us Quartermass and the Pit (1967), the Hammer-Warner Bros. piece of the Kubrick pie with the “space western” Moon Zero Two (1969) (a childhood favorite, but another Hammer film-hybrid flop that contributed to their demise), The Vampire Lovers (1970; Ingrid Pitt! Schwing!), and Sam’s favorite, The Monster Squad (1989). So all is well, Mr. Ward Baker.
Hi-yah! Sensei Ward!
You can watch this on You Tube or pick up the Shout! Factory DVD restoration that’s wildly available at traditional and online retailers.