Dracula A.D. 1972 Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Archive Collection
Directed by Alan Gibson
Written by Don Houghton
1972, 96 minutes, Rated PG
Released on October 16th, 2018
Christopher Lee as Count Dracula
Peter Cushing as Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing
Stephanie Beacham as Jessica Van Helsing
Christopher Neame asJohnny Alucard
Michael Coles as Inspector Murray
Dracula A.D. 1972 starts off splendidly. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing; The House That Dripped Blood, Twins of Evil) and Dracula (Christopher Lee; Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The City of the Dead) are duking it out on a carriage as the horses pulling it are running panicked. Our hero Van Helsing is victorious, naturally (but really through no doing of his own), but one of Dracula’s sycophants manages to snag the Count’s ring. Flash forward a hundred years or so to an on-going party that a group of young ruffians have crashed. Soon enough they are kicked out and are trying to figure out what to do next when one of the group, Johnny Alucard – who bears a striking resemblance to the fellow that snagged Drac’s ring earlier – suggests they go dabble in the dark arts. Of course they all agree and we all know how this ends up.
One thing I’ve been trying to do over the years is watch more Hammer films. As such an important part of horror history, it was shameful how very little I had seen. However, while I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of how many I’ve seen, I’m slowly and surely knocking them out. So when the opportunity to review Dracula A.D. 1972, I jumped on it because this was one I had not yet watched (or so I thought; apparently, this movie really is forgettable). I guess you have to take the bad with the good. I suppose that’s not really fair. Dracula A.D. 1972 isn’t bad really; it’s just not that good. It’s more of a missed opportunity than anything else.
It’s a bit frustrating because it does have a lot of things going for it. First, it stars Cushing and Lee. Those gentlemen together will elevate any film they are in to something better. Also, the actual story is decent. In addition to playing Van Helsing in the prologue, Cushing also plays a direct descendent of the vampire hunter, and he and his granddaughter, Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham; Super Bitch), are in the crosshairs of Dracula – one to kill and one to make his bride.
Since Dracula is leaving some bodies in his wake while he’s trying to get his revenge on the Van Helsing’s (including the lovely Caroline Munro), Scotland Yard takes notice and Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) calls upon the elder Van Helsing to help with the investigation. Again, digging it.
But the execution of all of this leaves a lot to be desired. Remember how excited you were when you found out that Jason would be taking Manhattan in Friday the 13th Part VIII when the reality is the majority of the film takes place on that dumb ship? Or when the first teaser for Alien 3 hit, and you got your hopes up that it was taking place on Earth, then the movie was released and…yeah. It’s kind of like that. Having never seen Dracula A.D. 1972, I figured Dracula would be running rampant in the streets off “modern day” England with Van Helsing hot on his heels. I should be so lucky. Dracula spends all of his time in his gothic castle and Van Helsing in his study. There are certainly times spent outside, but they are lacking the stars we came to see.
Granted, the supporting cast really does an admirable job. Christopher Neame (Steel Dawn) is effectively slimy as Johnny Alucard and Stephanie Beacham is equally good as the unwilling bride, but neither is Cushing or Lee.
It’s just unfortunate when a film has the cast and the base story Dracula A.D. 1972 does and it stumbles so hard. Like I said, it’s not a bad movie, but it is a disappointment. Hammer completists will want this, if only for how good this Blu-ray looks and sounds, but the average fan will want to take a pass.
Video and Audio:
Oh, if only the film was as good as its Blu-ray presentation. Part of Warner Bros. Warner Archive Collection, the 1.78:1 picture is quite impressive. Blacks are deep, the red of the blood pops, and there’s plenty of small object detail.
The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio fares just as well with dialogue always crisp and clear, never overtaken by effects or score.
English subtitles are available.
The only feature offered is the film’s trailer.