Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Satanic Rites of Dracula

This cheesy 70's throwaway isn't really that great of a movie (and that means a lot coming from a cult classic fan like me, who thrives on crap), but still manages to hold up over time. Mostly because of the minor details, such as the title which makes the movie sound as though it could potentially be scary... Vampires and Satanism. It has veteran horror actors such as Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, the heir to the family that destroyed Dracula on what seems like numerous times, depending on how many sequels you've seen. Christopher Lee reprises one of his more famous roles as the very non threatening version of Dracula. We also get to see Joanna Lumley as Jessica Van Helsing, the great great granddaughter, in one of her first movie roles (The world mostly knows Joanna Lumley as Patsy Stone on the super successful British comedy "Absolutely Fabulous") Instead of a big spooky castle, this film mostly takes place in a house with an office setting. Desks, phones, chairs, secretaries... like it's CIA headquarters or something. The "office house" is suspected to be a secret center for espionage, but instead there is something a bit more sinister at work. Satanic rituals are taking place in the basement. Evidently a satanic date of world destruction is only a few days away and there's work to be done in order to carry out the prophecies of Satan. Among the guests at the ritual are many well known, well respected individuals, a nobel prize winning doctor, a senator, etc. As a strange Chinese woman presides over the ritual, sacrificing chickens and the occasional small breasted virgin. Van Helsing pays a visit to his old friend Dr. Kelley (the Satanic doctor) and soon learns that he's been up to no good. He's perfected a devastatingly strong form of bubonic plague (obviously eluding to the source of the world destruction to come according to Satan's prophecies and is to be carried out by his stupid followers). During the visit, Van Helsing is non-fatally shot and the doctor has been killed, hung by his neck from the ceiling rafters. Also, the petri dishes of disease the doctor was working on have ben stolen. There are four regular attendees at this satanic ritual and are regarded by Dracula as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Apparently Dracula is still pissed off about what the van Helsing family has done to him over the years, so he decides that not only will he kill Van Helsing but he's gonna take the whole damn world along with him. Dracula also see the destruction of the human race to be his own grand suicide to finally escape the wrath of the van Helsing family (and living a rather laborious existence)... you kill the world, who've you got left to feed on? Taking the human race down with him gives him that last piece of vengeance, delightful revenge and a last act of power over all that is evil. The ending is rather simple and boring. Since it was obviously one of Dracula's henchmen (a motorcycling crew of guys in fur vests) that stole the virus, Dracula now holds the power and chooses his four favorite followers to be the spreaders of the plague. Jessica Van Helsing is chosen to be his consort (why he would need one with the end of the world only days away is anyone's guess). She escapes and makes it to the basement where a minion of female vamps accost her. She kills them by turning on the sprinklers, thus melting them (I thought that only happened to wicked witches). Another odd side note is that Van Helsing is creating a silver bullet to kill Dracula this time (I thought that was werewolves). Obviously he got his horror characters confused, therefore Van Helsing's silver bullet doesn't do shit to Dracula. Instead he burns the house down, effectively killing off the petri dishes of disease and all of Dracula's disciples. While chasing Van Helsing through the woods, Dracula gets tangled in a thorn bush. This scene is totally hilarious, you'd think that someone who's lived as long as Dracula would be able to avoid such a dumb mistake. While hopelessly caught in the bramble's grasp, Van Helsing uses this opportunity to grab a stake from a nearby wooden fence and stab Dracula in the heart... again. I'll be honest, the plot idea had potential but the execution of it really sucks. This is about the blandest, boring, most predicable piece of shit. Proving, if anything, that even when you have well established actors in the type of roles that they are very familiar with, it still won't earn any Oscars, or even a good movie make.

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