THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA
COUNT DRACULA AND HIS VAMPIRE BRIDE
The results finally emerged as The Satanic Rites of Dracula, having undoubtedly been so titled in order to cash in on the sudden popularity of Devil themes brought on by the massive hit of the same years The Exorcist (1973). This would also account for the somewhat cursory addition of a Devil worshipping cult sub-plot. (It would have been interesting to see how The Satanic Rites of Dracula would have turned out if this had come after The Omen (1976) and the sub-cycle of End Times prophecy cash-in films that followed that there are all sorts of intriguing analogies that could be made between Dracula with his biological warfare schemes and the Anti-Christ). The films US release was held up until 1978 where it was then retitled Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride, despite the fact that there are not any vampire brides in the film.
The Satanic Rites of Dracula is a marginally better film than Dracula A.D. 1972, showing some of the way Hammer could have gone to contemporize Dracula Dracula is now a Howard Hughes-modeled reclusive millionaire, the shadowy figure behind a sinister corporation. However, all that the Alan Gibson Hammer Dracula films did though was to place Christopher Lees cape-clad Dracula in the present, rather than come to terms with the larger conceptual challenge of a contemporary vampire as later films such as Martin (1976) and Near Dark (1987) did with much greater intellectual rigour. In fact, Christopher Lee is not in the film much, showing the series increasing failure to find anything worthwhile to do with Dracula once they kept reviving him. Draculas scheme to kill off the world with bio-warfare viruses thus earning his own death seems absurdly far-fetched. The bizarre melange of secret agents, government conspiracies, bacteriological warfare, afghan-clad bikers and vampires shows more than anything a desperation for new ideas in the series. The result seems more like a collision between Hammers The Devil Rides Out (1968) and an episode of The Avengers (1962-9) than it ever does a Hammer Dracula film. Alan Gibsons direction is flat and literal and the climax with Dracula impaled on the hawthorn bush is surely the series weakest, especially in comparison to the great climaxes in some of the earlier Terence Fisher entries.
The Hammer cycle was about milked out and nearing an end. Christopher Lee saw this in fact, he was vocal during filming saying that he didnt like the series anymore. Immediately after The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Christopher Lee hung his cape up, saying no more to Dracula and stating that Hammer would not have enough money or that only Franco Zefferelli could get him to put the fangs back on although he did go back on his word and appear in the French send-up Dracula Father and Son (1976). Peter Cushing stayed on for one more film The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974). There was a plan to make a series of Van Helsing features but after that point Hammer decided that they were milking blood from a stone.
Hammers other Dracula films are: Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires/The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula (1974).
Full film available online here:-