Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires -1974
Hammer Horror! Dragon Thrills! The First Kung Fu Horror Spectacular
Roy Ward Baker
Starring – Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Robin Stewart, Szu Shih, John Forbes-Robertson, Robert Hanna, Shen Chan, James Ma, Fong Lah Ann, Liu Hui Ling, Chia Yung Liu, Wong Han Chan, Chen Tien Loong
Review by The_Void
Vampires, Orient style!,
This lovely Hammer Horror blending of the traditional vampire tale with martial arts stars Peter Cushing as Professor Van Helsing. The plot follows Van Helsing, who is drawn into a plot involving a legendary seven golden vampires, the prince of darkness; Dracula himself, the undead and a load of martial artists.
Our hero must, along with his son and an escort of kung fu fighters travel to a cursed village somewhere in China to rid it of the vampire curse that holds it. One of the reasons why Hammer horror is so brilliant is that it isn’t afraid to make a film that most other film studios would regard as stupid and then make it work. The main reason why Hammer horror does work is that the films, despite showing many macabre images, are always good natured and made with a lot of heart so they’re easy to like; and this one is no different.
The Eastern style makes for a very different vampire film to what we’re used to, and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires seems keen to capitalise on that as it changes many of the traditional vampire rules to suit the east (for example, the traditional cross to ward off vampires is replaced by the image of Budha). As usual with Hammer, the effects are hokey to say the least, the production values are low and everyone except Peter Cushing leaves a lot to be desired acting-wise…but without these traits, this film wouldn’t be Hammer, so these things are not only forgivable, but welcome.
Peter Cushing’s performance in this movie isn’t his best, but fans of his will still relish it. There’s something about Cushing’s persona that makes him very watchable, and every film with him in it is worth watching, if only for that reason. He also gets involved in some of the martial arts fights, which is nice to see. The fights themselves are very well staged, much better than I was expecting with this being a horror film with kung fu elements, rather than a full blown fight-fest.
This is the fifth film I’ve seen by Hammer director Roy Ward Baker and although it’s not the best, it’s still a very solid offering from the man who was probably Hammer’s finest director.
This film is a lot of fun, and I don’t doubt that it will delight anyone who sees it, and therefore it comes with the highest recommendations from me.