MILL CREEK DRIVE-IN MOVIE CLASSICS: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Man, what a title. Better than the original one, Dracula is Dead…and Well and Living in London, which upset Christoper Lee so much that he was outspoken at the press conference that introduced the movie: “I’m doing it under protest… I think it is fatuous. I can think of twenty adjectives — fatuous, pointless, absurd. It’s not a comedy, but it’s got a comic title. I don’t see the point.”

The eighth Hammer Dracula movie, the seventh and final to star Lee (John Forbes-Robertson played Dracula with David de Keyser as the voice in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires) and the third and last to put Lee’s vampire against Cushing’s Van Helsing (they would appear in only one more movie together, House of the Long Shadows), this is pretty much the end of an era.

Every time I think of this movie, I remember Bill Van Ryn of Drive-In Asylum excitingly saying to me — after we saw the trailer at a drive-in — “It’s not enough that Dracula is a vampire. Now he has an entire army of Satanists and he wants to rule the world and he has a plague!”

It turns out that there’s a govenment occult conspiracy that only Van Helsing can stop and he’s bringing along his granddaughter Patsy Stone, err, Jessica Van Helsing.

As the cabal prepares for the Sabbath of the Undead, their mysterious fifth member is revealed to be, of course, Dracula using the identity of reclusive property developer D. D. Denham and operating out of the very same churchyard where he died in Dracula A.D. 1972.

Somehow, this is more of a Eurospy science fiction movie than the traditional horror film, but that’s kind of the beauty of the whole thing.

Somehow, this fell into the public domain in the U.S. That’s why it’s on so many Mill Creek sets under this title and the edited TV version Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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