(Just in time for Halloween, the "Deep Cuts" series highlights horror films I think deserve a little more recognition. Not to say they're obscure by any means-- most are major releases. I just want to give them a little more love is all. Enjoy!)
Index of all "Deep Cuts" entries, updated as they're posted
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The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
British/ Chinese, d. Roy Ward Baker and Cheh Chang, 1974
Perhaps at some point you've been watching a vampire movie and thought to yourself: "You know what this movie needs? Some awesome kung fu." Well, if that's the case then "The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires" is for you. Because this, my friends, is the film made in collaboration between Britain's Hammer Films and China's Shaw Brothers studio, and it's pretty much exactly what the sum of those parts ought to be.
As the trailer intones: "Black belt against black magic, in the greatest battle of all time." (Here the film is presented with the silver-tongued alternate title "The Seven Brothers and Their One Sister Meet Dracula".)
Indeed, this movie is primarly two things: 1. Just as ridiculous as a co-production of these two studios sounds like it would be be, and 2. just as satisfying as said co-production should be, since both have turned out some stellar genre product over the years.
Peter Cushing plays Lawrence Van Helsing, evidently a relative of Bram Stoker's character with the same surname, who leads an expedition to a Chinese village where vampires are terrorizing the countryside, enacting ritual human sacrifices and what have you.
Van Helsing recruits a group of rad kung fu practitioners to fight off the monsters along the way. On occasion, jiangshi (hopping vampires) can be spotted among the attackers. It should also be mentioned that the vampires have the power to raise former victims from the grave and assemble them as an army, which is awesome.
Anyway, you get the idea. If this appeals, make sure to check it out. And if you don't think it's for you, then you're probably right.
One motive for including this flick, though, is to call out Hammer films as a prime exponent of horror filmmaking-- one that I'm not sure is finding a lasting audience among contemporary horror fans. If you're looking for lurid, scenery-chewing Gothic horror with bombastic music, melodramatic acting, buxom babes, ambitious lighting and set design, people throwing candelabras, etc, look no further. I also heartily recommend "Twins of Evil" and "Hooror of Dracula" (the latter of which pairs Cushing and Chrisopher Lee to great effect). Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!
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