The film opens with a flashback to 1872 where we see the final battle between Count Dracula and Dr Van Helsing. The two are fighting a top a runaway coach which Dracula throws Van Helsing off of. The coach crashes soon afterward and Dracula is subsequently impaled on the wooden carriage wheel which Van Helsing before he dies of his injuries thrusts through Dracula's heart killing him. Dracula crumbles into ash which one of his servants gathers in a vial. The servant later scatters them and marks them with a stake in St Bartolphs Church near where Van Helsing is buried.
( This sequence was not in the previous Dracula film Scars of Dracula which featured Dracula burning to death, it also contradicts previous Hammer Dracula films which depicted the first meeting of Van Helsing and Dracula as taking place in 1885, and the later film The Legend of The Seven Golden Vampires which featured both Van Helsing and Dracula still alive in 1901) One hundred years later we are introduced to a group of young teenagers which includes Jessica Van Helsing granddaughter of Lorrimer Van Helsing who is the grandson of the original Van Helsing and like his grandfather an expert on the occult, having even aided the police in the past with his knowledge of the paranormal in a case involving demonic cult killings. One of Jessica's friends Johnny Alucard suggests that they perform a black mass ritual for excitement, Johnny Alucard is revealed to be the descendant of one of Dracula's servants [the same servant who scattered his ashes at the start of the film whom Johnny bears a striking resembelance to] Johnny and the others perform the ritual in St Bartolphs Churh which is now abandoned and deconsincrated. The ritual brings Dracula back from the dead, but Jessica and all of her friends flee before that happens having been scared by the ritual, Laura a member of their group who Johnny used in the ritual is left behind where she is brutally killed by Dracula.
The next day Laura's mutilated body is discovered by two children and a police investigation begins headed by inspector Murray. Murray suspects an occult element and interviews Lorrimer Van Helsing about the case, due to his knowledge of the occult and because Lorrimers granddaughter Jessica is one of the victims friends. Lorrimer immediatly suspects that it was the work of a vampire and tells inspector Murray this who gradually comes to believe him. When he finds out the name of Jessica's friend and suspect Johnny Alucard he realises that he is a disciple of Dracula, as Alucard is Dracula spelt backwards.
Johnny soon seduces and brings another of Jessica's friends Gaynor Keating to Dracula. Dracula is angered that it is not Jessica, as he has returned to destroy the descendants of Van Helsing, but kills Gaynor anyway. After this Johnny begs Dracula to make him into a vampire, as he wishes to become an immortal (this was the reason he brought Dracula back in the first place) Dracula eventually relents and makes Johnny into a vampire. As a vampire Johnny desposes of Gaynors body, kills a young women and makes Jessica's boyfriend Bob into a vampire. Both Bob and Johnny later lure Jessica to a cafe they frequent where they knock her out and bring her to Dracula.
Lorrimer discovers Jessica is missing and with the help of one of Jessica's friends tracks down Johnny Alucard at his house. He demands to know where Jessica is, but Johnny does not tell him and the two fight. Lorrimer is eventually able to defeat and kill Johnny. Though Johnny does not tell him where Jessica is Van Helsing believes that Dracula will be holding her at St Bartolphs Church and heads there.
Outside the church he discovers Bobs dead body (presumbly killed by Dracula) and also discovers Jessica in the church itself. Having been placed in a trance by Dracula, Lorrimer places a cross around her neck and waits around the Church until nightfall, as only Dracula can awaken her from this trance. That night Dracula rises to make Jessica into a vampire but is scared by the cross around her neck which he soon removes, burning his hand badly in the process. Lorrimer then arrives and Dracula noticing the similarity between Lorrimer and the original Van Helsing attacks him. Dracula chases Lorrimer to the top of the chruch where he beats him very badly, Lorrimer however catches Dracula off guard and stabs him in the somache with a silver blade. Dracula falls wounded from the weapon but he hypnotises Jessica to pull it out of him. Instantly recovering Dracula chases Van Helsing out of the church where Van Helsing finally defeats him by throwing Holy water in his face where Dracula falls into a pit of stakes Lorrimer had created earlier. Using a shovel Lorrimer pushes Dracula onto one of the stakes which pierces his heart and kills him once again. With Dracula dead Jessica is freed from his spell, she then embraces her Grandfather and the title "Rest in Final Peace" is shown.
Christopher Lee as Count Dracula
Peter Cushing as Dr Lawrence Van Helsing/Lorrimer Van Helsing
Stephanie Beacham as Jessica Van Helsing
Christopher Neame as Johnny Alucard
Michael Coles as Inspector Murray
Marsha Hunt as Gaynor Keating
Carolune Munro as Laura Bellows
Janet Key as Anna Bryant
William Ellis as Joe Mitcham
Philip Miller as Bob
Michael Kitchen as Greg
David Andrews as Detective Sergeant
Lally Powers as Matron Party Hostess
Constrance Lutteral as Mrs Donnelly
Michael Daly as Charles
Artro Morris as Police surgeon
Jo Richardson as Crying Matron
Penny Brahms as Hippy Girl
Flanagan as Go Go dancer (uncredited)
Brian John Smith as Hippy Boy
Stoneground as themselves
Four actors from the James Bond franchise appear in this film. Christopher Lee who played Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun appears as Dracula, Caroline Munro who played Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me appears as Dracula's first victim Laura. Michael Kitchen who portayed Bill Tanner in Goldeneye and The World is Not Enough.appears as Greg. Christopher Neame who played corrupt MI6 agent Fallon in Licence to Kill appears as Draculas servant, Johnny Alucard.
Dracula AD 1972 was influenced by the modern day Vampire film Count Yorga Vampire. It was also influenced by the Highgate Vampire. The Highgate Vampire was a media sensation sorrounding an allegedly real vampire tha was said to haunt Highgate Cemetery. It begun with reports of supernatural creatures roaming the cemetery, with there eventually being reports of foxes found with teeth marks on their throat drained of blood and an incident involving a young women being attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure that bit her on the neck before flying into the air. The publicity around it became so great that it made the papers with the headline "Does a Vampyr walk in Highgate" There were also riots to break into the cemetery on Friday the 13th in 1970 to slay the vampire.
Dracula AD 1972 was written by Don Houghton who would later go on to write the sequel The Satanic Rites Of Dracula and The Legend of the seven Golden Vampires for Hammer. His other writing credits include Doctor Who, The Proffesionals and Sapphire and Steel which starred Joana Lumley who played Jessica Van Helsing in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.
The soundtrack was composed by former Manfred Mann member Mike Vickers and is in a funky Blaxploitation style that reflects the early 1970's setting of the film. It was not released comercially prior to a long awaited CD release in 2009. The film also features two songs "Alligator man" And you better come through" by the American band Stoneground who were a late replacement for the Faces. The Black Mass Segment uses the track "Black Mass: an electronic storm in hell by the pioneering electronic group White Noise. The Black Mass scene with Christopher Neame's dialogue was also sampled by Orbital For "Satan- Live and Tension"
Critical reaction to Dracula AD 1972 has been mixed to negative. Upon the films release Roger Ebert gave the film one out of four stars. Dennis Prince of DVD Verdict said, "Dracula AD 1972 is definetly one of the weaker installments in Hammers horror catalog and will likely only have a strong appeal for Dracula completists" Eccentric Cinema wrote, " One can have a fun time with this movie ----mostly because of its faults. Its cheese all right , professionally made cheese thats much better acted and staged than it has any right to be" The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review called the film "a major dissapointment" and "the low point in the entire Hammer Dracula series" despite "minor positive aspects" George R Reis of DVD Drive in wrote "Considered a low point in Hammers Roaster Dracula AD 1972 is hardly that....The film has a number of things going for it.... Cushing's exceptional Van Helsing pretty much carries the film....Christopher Neame is charismatically evil as Johnny Alucard and his stiring fight scene with Van Helsing is a highlight.. how can Hammer fans not like this stuff."
Notes and TriviaEdit
- Christopher Lee was not happy with this film, thinking that the modern setting for Dracula was a mistake, he later remarked that "There is only one Dracula and his period must never be changed"
- The publicity shot of Dracula killing Laura has gone onto become one of the most iconic scenes from any Dracula film and is often used in the media such as in newspapers when depicting Dracula.
- First Hammer Dracula film where Dracula is killed by a wooden stake through the heart, though an unsuccessful staking attempt was seen in Dracula has risen from the grave.
- Though Dracula crumbles to dust both times he is killed, other Vampires such as Johnny Alucard do not.
- First time Peter Cushing played Van Helsing since The Brides of Dracula in 1960.
- Though it was advertised as Dracula in modern day London, Dracula does not actually leave St Bartolphs Church in the whole film into his modern surroundings.
- Though often criticised for having a modern day setting, this has since become a stable of Vampire films and television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, True Blood and the Twilight franchises. The film is somewhat ahead of its time in that aside from its modern day setting it also features other stables of modern day Vampire fiction such as, Vampire wannabe's and worshippers (Johnny Alucard) and a Vampire Hunter being the latest in a long line of Vampire hunters that stretches back throughout the ages (Lorrimer Van Helsing)
- Was followed by The Satanic Rites of Dracula which featured many of the same characters including, Lorrimer Van Helsing, Jessica Van Helsing, Inspector Murray and Dracula himself, though Jessica is played by Joanna Lumley rather than Stephanie Beachem
- Marvel Comics series Tomb of Dracula would also feature Dracula in modern times battling a female descendent of Van Helsing Rachel Van Helsing.