DON'T WAKE UP DRACULA.
The English born film studio Hammer Pictures did something that movie makers only wished they could have done. They totally revamped (no pun intended) the monster movie. Providing classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein and even Bette Davis a new Technicolor home. They dusted off the old horror stories, added amazing costumes and sets and amped up the gore and sex just a touch and introduced millions to the creatures of the night. But like all good things, at some point it must come to an end. The last few films that Hammer produced were clunky at best, but there is one that was unlike anything else. Hammer teamed up with the very popular Shaw Brothers and made one film together and it is movie magic! The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a one of a kind and a must see!
The film has a big grand opening as a title card flashes 1804 Transylvania! This old Chinese man just so happens to wander into the castle of Dracula and wakes his ass up. Now, good ole Drac is usually played by Christopher Lee in almost all the Hammer Films, but I guess he couldn't be bothered because he was busy trying to not be pigeon holed as the the prince of darkness anymore. So we get John Forbes-Robertson who pops up in Hammer movies now and again. He does his best Lee impersonation in what seems to be make-up applied by Baby Jane. The old dude ask Dracula to resurrect the 7 Golden Vampires and he agrees, but only after he takes over the guys body so he can mingle into the remote Chinese village where the 7GV's hang out. In a poof of smoke and green lighting, the body transformation takes place! Les Bowie, who is an amazing special effects expert, loses some of his talent within the restrictions of the budget, but you gotta make do.
FLASH FORWARD! Chungking 1904. It is high time for the 7GV's to come out, because the 7th moon is appearing and it only happens once a year. We are then thrust into a FLASHBACK (keep up!) and some dude with a grudge goes to battle the 7GVs. After his village is ransacked and his girl is kidnapped he grabs a garden ho and goes to bust some vamp ass. The vampires descend on him, zombies rise out of the grave and he discovers a hotbed of nudity once he enters their lair. You can see the mask one each member of 7GV, coming apart and pulling away to reveal human necks and upper chest areas, but it doesn't matter. I didn't know this, but according to the movie, if you film something in slow motion it equals scary (and pad the 83 minute run time a little). In fact, if you film something in slow motion, it gives the viewer much more time to study the film. So I am cool with that. Our flashback hero, is able to destroy one of the golden vamps and steals the metal bat ornament that is around his waist. The only way to get rid of them is to snatch that treasure of their person. Easier said than done, cuz they don't give them up so easy!
FLASH FORWARD again. Professor Laurence Van Helsing, played by the impeccable Peter Cushing, is hosting vampire lectures at a college and gets laughed out of the classroom. But one student knows what he is talking about and ask Helsing to help him destroy the 7GVs. Naturally, Helsing is up for the challenge. And what I love about Cushing is that at the time of the filming he was 61 (looked about 90) and he KICKS IT! Cushing never backs down from a good run or a slightly easy stunt. He goes for it. And he has cheekbones to DIE FOR! DIVA!
Van Helsing never travels alone and he has brought along his fa-fa grandson, Leyland, and some random beauty that they call Vanessa. You would think that in all the vampire battles that Helsing has found himself caught up in, he would surround himself with people that have skills or strength one might need to fight creatures of the night, but nope. He got stuck with a mary grandson (who i instantly started crushing on) and one of the most useless ladies in China. She is spoiled, vain and slow as shit! But luckily for Doc Helsing, he has found a ton of new friends. Six brothers AND one sister!!! They want revenge against the 7GVs and are wiling to risk their lives to get Helsing to his destination so he can stop the creatures. On their journey, Vanessa starts to really get on every one's nerves with her complaining. "I get so tired of just sitting around," she exclaims as she is leisurely sitting in a horse drawn covered cart, while everyone else is hoofing it. WALK BITCH!!
Finally, 51 minutes in the the film, we get some hot kung fu as the group is attacked by monsters or bandits, it is kinda confusing. But, it is worth it to see lil' sis kick some ass. They scare off the baddies, but lose all their supplies and horses and now Vanessa is FORCED to walk, HAHA! Hottie grandson has his queer eye on lil' sister and she the same. So they get to the village where the 7GVs keep attacking once a year and set up camp. They discover that the remaining 6GVs want the metal bat back so they can reincarnate the 7th lost member and they are going to use all their powers to get it back. Well, Vanessa has other problems. "I'd like a bath" and "my aching feet" are her main concerns. I wish they would just toss her out to the vampires and be done with it. The camp gets attacked and there is a ton of kung fu, which is super fun. I like that the vampires and their zombie minions just kinda stand around waiting to get the shit beat out of them. And while all this is going on, there is time for a little romance too, as Leyland and lil' sister make out and Vanessa and the oldest brother almost do it in the bushes. But luring in the dark are more vampires and lil' sis gets kidnapped and Vanessa gets bitten and turned into a vampire and they get to stake her through the heart!!! Everyone is rejoicing.
The remaining cast all venture to the lair of the 7GVs and have a full on vampire vs kung fu battle. And it is fucking awesome! Gore, karate chops, stakes through hearts, heads chopped off and rapid kicks to the face are all on par with the final sequence. It is so insane, you can't believe you are actually getting to witness this. It is the perfect merger of hammer horror campiness and style mixed with the over the topness and awesomeness of The Shaw Brothers. It turns into a massive YUCK fest and Dracula makes another diva entrance, but Peter Cushing knows what to do and does it well!
Filmed entirely in Hong Kong and full of Hammer Horror and Dragon Thrills, this truly lives up to it's claim as a Kung Fu Horror Spectacular.