The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

A martial arts / vampire mashup is a fun idea, with the Hammer and Shaw movie studios working together to create this wacky one-off realisation of it. There’s no Christopher Lee, and the actor nominally for Dracula is barely in the movie (no great loss, but the body-swapping mechanics are handled oddly, and potentially could have even been used to pretend Lee was still in the role), and none of the other actors make much of an impression beyond Peter Cushing, back again as Van Helsing. He has some great scenes intoning folk legends about vampires, though it’s an odd thing that the film works best when it’s an actor describing stories offscreen, instead of when its realising its own story. The fight scenes go on and on…there’s a kind of artistry to them, but blending them with the thin Hammer plotting doesn’t really give rise to anything special. Fun to see Cushing do his thing, actively fight and all that, and there’s a lot more of a novelty factor to this film than most of the Hammer Draculas. Not exactly a great success, but like DRACULA A.D. 1972, there’s definite merit just in having a new idea. Two and a half golden vampires, and a series finally put to rest.

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