Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Don Houghton
Cast: Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Robin Stewart, Shin Szu, John Forbes-Robertson, Robert Hanna, Chan Shen, James Ma, Liu Chia Yung, Feng Ko An, Chen Tien Loong, and Wong Han Chen
Composer: James Benard
Release Date: 7/11/1974
MPAA Rating: R
Assuming the visage of a Chinese warlord named Kah (Chan Shen), Count Dracula (John Forbes-Robertson) helps restore the power of the Seven Golden Vampires—a terrible cult now in control of an ancestral mountain village. While lecturing in China, Professor Van Helsing—accompanied by his son Leyland (Robin Stewart), an heiress known as Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege), and a group of siblings trained in Kung Fu—is called on a mission to defeat the Seven Brothers and retake the stolen village, leading to a conflict with Dracula himself.
Inspired by the Kung Fu craze of the early 1970s, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is marred by haphazard genre mixing. Hammer/Gothic horror enthusiasts may therefore wish to avoid this film, which benefits only from the presence of Peter Cushing and John Forbes-Robertson.
Though lacking the rich basso voice of Christopher Lee, Forbes-Robertson offers a menacing performance as Count Dracula. (Hammer buffs may, of course, take issue with the limited screen presence of Forbes-Robertson’s Dracula, who, aside from his introduction in the prologue, appears only during a brief confrontation with Van Helsing at the climax of this film.)
With its over-the-top fight sequences, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires will appeal to fans of classic martial arts movies. By failing to include Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing in the majority of its action scenes, however, this offering struggles to maintain a balance between Kung Fu antics and old-fashioned vampire hunting.
Modern audiences may also condemn this film for its cheesy rubber bat props and slipshod makeup/gore effects, which undermine the credibility of the eponymous vampires—already weak and unimpressive compared to Dracula.
Indicating that Eastern vampires fear the image of Buddha instead of the Christian cross, this film alludes to an interesting fact about vampire psychology—similar to Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, wherein vampires of Jewish origin, for example, display no aversion to Christian iconography.
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a bizarre and underwhelming final chapter in Hammer’s long-running Dracula series. Notably, in spite of its topnotch choreography, this film suffers from poor production values and lackluster character moments.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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