TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1970) Reviews and overview

 

‘Drink a pint of blood a day’

Taste the Blood of Dracula is a 1970 British horror feature film produced by Hammer Film Productions. It was directed by Peter Sasdy (Countess Dracula; Hands of the Ripper) based upon a script by Anthony Hinds.

Main cast:

Christopher Lee
Linda HaydenThe Blood on Satan’s Claw | VampiraThe House on Straw Hill
Anthony Corlan – Vampire Circus
Geoffrey Keen – Berserk | Doomwatch | Holocaust 2000
John CarsonThe Night Caller | The Plague of the Zombies | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
Ralph Bates – The Horror of Frankensein | Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde | Persecution
Peter Sallis – The Ghosts of Motley Hall, | The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Glamour model June Palmer (Flesh and Fantasie (sic) aka Nightmare at Elm Manor) has an uncredited minor role as a redhead dancer.

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A businessman named Weller is travelling through Eastern Europe when he is thrown from his carriage during a struggle and is knocked unconscious. After reviving, he comes across the mortally injured Dracula as he is dying from the wound he received at the end of Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.

Weller watches in amazement as the Count gradually disintegrates, leaving only a few objects behind. Fascinated, Weller collects a handful of Dracula’s dried-up blood in a test tube, his cloak and finally the Count’s ring. before hurriedly fleeing the scene…

Three English ‘gentlemen’ – Hargood, Paxton and Secker – have formed a circle ostensibly devoted to charitable work but in reality, they indulge themselves in immoral activities. One night they are intrigued by a young man named Courtley, who was disinherited for celebrating a Black Mass.

The younger man takes the three to the Cafe Royal and promises them experiences they will never forget but insists that they come to see Weller and purchase from him Dracula’s ring, cloak and dried-up blood.

The three meet with Courtley at an abandoned church for a ceremony during which he puts the dried blood into goblets and mixes it with drops of his own blood, telling the gentlemen to drink. As they refuse, he drinks the blood himself, screams and falls to the ground. As he grabs the gentlemen’s legs, they kick and beat him with increasing vigour – not stopping until Courtley dies, at which they flee in disgust at what they have done.

While the three return to their respective homes and get on with their lives, Courtley’s body, left in the abandoned church, transforms into Dracula, who vows that those who have destroyed his servant will be destroyed…

Reviews:

“Though the film never quite lives up to the brilliantly staged opening scenes, its variation on the idea of the decadent, aristocratic Dracula’s threat to the sanctity of the Victorian middle-class family highlights an intriguing aspect of Hammer’s vampire mythology.” Nigel Floyd, Time Out Film Guide

“Not only is it an intelligently written, beautifully filmed tale which takes the Dracula idea and expands on it, but it actually follows on from the last one (Dracula Has Risen from the Grave) – and not in a crappy “Don’t go there, that’s Castle Dracula – where once, terrible things happened” kind of way, either. Even the rather lurid title makes sense.” British Horror Films

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” …the cast is one of the best in a Hammer outing, James Bernard’s music is powerful, and the movie’s more coherent entwining of plot, character and theme make it one of the more compelling offerings of Hammer’s late ‘60s/early ‘70s period when the studio was starting to lose its way amidst an onslaught of more modern and culturally relevant genre films.” Den of Geek

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“This is pretty silly stuff, though it does give rise to one of Lee’s most frighteningly feral moments as he moves in on Lucy to inflict the fatal puncture. The ending is also somewhat confused, with Dracula climbing into the upper reaches of the church and flinging giant organ pipes at the young lovers… But the film has an even-more-distinguished-than-usual cast.” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic

” …Taste the Blood of Dracula is a routine but well-photographed entry notable only for introducing Satan worship into the series, although comic actor Roy Kinnear enlivens a few early scenes. The movie takes forever to get started (an hour passes before Drac bites his first neck), and the formula of blood, cleavage, and Gothic atmosphere is overly familiar; furthermore, Dracula’s overreliance on henchmen makes him seem more like a Bond villain than a legendary monster.” Every ’70s Movie

“In adopting a viewpoint sympathetic to the young cinema-goers of 1970, John Elder couched his latest Dracula in the progressive anti-establishment ethos of the times. Now distanced from the details of its turbulent production, and the era of its release, Taste the Blood of Dracula retains an impressive all-round quality that distinguishes Peter Sasdy’s film debut as the finest genuine Dracula sequel in the entire series.” Marcus Hearn, Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story

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Poster designed by Tom Chantrell

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Image credits: Tom Chantrell Posters

Cast and characters:

Christopher Lee … Dracula
Geoffrey Keen … William Hargood
Gwen Watford … Martha Hargood
Linda Hayden … Alice Hargood
Peter Sallis … Samuel Paxton
Anthony Higgins … Paul Paxton (as Anthony Corlan)
Isla Blair … Lucy Paxton
John Carson … Jonathon Secker
Martin Jarvis … Jeremy Secker
Ralph Bates … Lord Courtley
Roy Kinnear … Weller
Michael Ripper … Cobb
Russell Hunter … Felix
Shirley Jaffe … Hargood’s Maid
Keith Marsh … Father
Peter May … Son
Reginald Barratt … Vicar
Madeline Smith … Dolly (as Maddy Smith)
Lai Ling … Chinese girl
Malaika Martin … Snake girl
Amber Blare … Brothel Girl (uncredited)
Daniel Brown … Mission Hall Guide (uncredited)
Pauline Chamberlain … Lady at Funeral Service (uncredited)
Jimmy Charters … Mission Hall Vagrant (uncredited)
Vicky Gillespie … Brothel Girl (uncredited)
Josie Grant … Brothel Girl (uncredited)
Juba Kennerley … Cafe Royal Patron (uncredited)
Jim O’Brady … Mission Hall Diner (uncredited)
June Palmer … Redhead Prostitute (uncredited)
Dido Plumb … Mission Hall Diner (uncredited)
John Tatham … Cafe Royal Patron (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire, England
Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England (studio)
Highgate Cemetery, Swain’s Lane, Highgate, London, England
Scratchwood, Hertfordshire, England
St Andrew’s Church, Totteridge Lane, Totteridge, London, England
Tykes Water Lake, Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire, England (horse-riding scene)

Filming dates:

27 October 1969 – 5 December 1969

Technical details:

91 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Censorship:

The British cinema version was cut by BBFC censors to edit blood spurts from the staking of Paxton, a closeup of Dracula’s bloodstained teeth and a brief shot of a brothel customer with a topless woman.

Trailer: