TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Sasdy immediately turns Taste the Blood of Dracula into a different type of Hammer film. He eschews the rich and florid colours that Terence Fisher gave the Hammer film and what has been typified as the Hammer look in favour of a grittier more realistic period Victoriana. The sets are darker instead of being brightly lit to show all there is on display. Almost all Hammer films tap it into a a sense of repression emerging from beneath the veneer of British society, where Dracula acts as a metaphorical force to tear polite convention apart before being dispatched. In the opening minutes of Taste the Blood of Dracula, Sasdy makes memorable contrast between Geoffrey Keen beating daughter Linda Hayden for smiling at a boy in church and then heading off to a West End brothel under the guise of doing charity work.
There is crucial difference between Peter Sasdy and Terence Fisher and the sense of Victorian repression that exists in eithers Hammer Dracula entries. In the likes of Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) and Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966), Terence Fisher invariably takes the side of society and sees the vampire hunters quashing the emergence of repressed sensuality as just and honourable, whereas for Sasdy Dracula is not so much a force that catalyses repression as one that exposes hypocrisy behind the veneer of virtue that Fishers vampire hunters defend. For Terence Fisher, the society is just and there is a sigh of relief as the transgressive is finally banished, for Peter Sasdy the status quo is rent asunder and revealed as false.
Sasdy creates some memorable images the image of innocent Linda Hayden suddenly turning and taking lascivious relish in bashing her father in the head with a shovel. Although the most striking of all images is that of her curled up asleep on the lid of a crypt beneath which Dracula lies in rest. There is a vivid resurrection sequence with dust blowing in to cover Ralph Bates dead body and then a mask cracking open to reveal Draculas face alive beneath.
Taste the Blood of Dracula doesnt always work as usual with the Hammer Dracula sequels, the script has difficulty coming up with worthwhile motivation for Dracula. The vengeance angle is not well connected it does seem overly generous of Dracula to swear vengeance for Courtleys murder, having not even met Courtley, for instance. Considering that Courtleys death was necessary for him to be resurrected, it does also seem slightly irrational of Dracula to then swear vengeance on Courtleys murderers. Further, it makes Taste the Blood of Dracula into something different. It now becomes a film about vengeance rather than one about vampirism. Throughout the focus is on Dracula corrupting the children and turning them against their parents and the usual business of blood-letting hardly even figures at all.
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), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula/Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires/The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula (1974).
Peter Sasdys other genre outings were: Countess Dracula (1970), Hands of the Ripper (1971) about Jack the Rippers daughter, the ecological horror film Doomwatch (1972), the immortality syndicate film Nothing But the Night (1972), the Nigel Kneale ghost story tv play The Stone Tape (1972), the Satanic impregnation film The Devil Within Her/I Dont Want to Be Born (1975) and the proto-Virtual Reality film Welcome to Blood City (1977).