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The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires - Hammer Films/Shaw Brothers - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 18 March 2016


AKA: 7 Brothers Versus Dracula, 7 Brothers and a Sister Meet Dracula, Los siete vampiros de oro, Kung Fu mysteriet, A Lenda dos Sete Vampiros, 7 Golden Vampires, Les Vampires d'or, Kung Fu contra los siete vampiros de oro, Seven Golden Vampires The Last Warning, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, Qi jin shi, Vampirjeve ljubice, Dracula and the Seven Golden Vampires.

Directed by: Roy Ward Baker
Written by: Don Houghton
Produced by: Don Houghton, Run Run Shaw, Runme Shaw, Vee King Shaw.
Cinematography by: Roy Ford, John Wilcox
Editing by: Chris Barnes
Special Effects by: Les Bowie
Music by: James Bernard
Cast: Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Robin Stewart, John Forbes-Robertson, Shen Chan, Szu Shih
Year: 1974
Country: UK/Hong Kong
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 25min

Studio: Hammer Films, Shaw Brothers
Distribution: Living Color Entertainment

I make it no secret that I am a huge Peter Cushing fanatic -- just read my reviews for Corruption and Shock Waves. To me the man has never starred in a bad film, because his performance makes the film he is in. He, like Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Peter Lorre, etcetera, believed in working for their wage and felt the character they were to portray.

The latter stages of Peter's career was quite a bizarre ride. Of course, Corruption is the terrible relative nobody likes to know, according to many purists to his memory. The image of mild mannered Peter hacking into a topless woman shocks, but I rather like that and so many from his late 60s and throughout the 70s works.

Helen, his Soul Mate, had passed and he was working almost none stop in a frenzy to dull the pain. He found himself employed to star in more risky and daring films -- a far cry from the play safe Hammer Horrors (even though they had to change towards the end of course). Which brings us to 1974, and Hammer was embracing so many influences. Seeing the outside world of celluloid change and darken, they threw more gore into their works and more nudity, (The Karnstein Trilogy, Vampire Circus -- see my review, Straight on Til Morning, etcetera) and then there is this, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Made with the Shaw Brothers, this oddity combined the traditional vampire lore with fast paced martial arts and zombies!!!

Unfortunately having Dracula involved and since Christopher Lee had prior decided not to be his 'born to be' role anymore, courtesy of the duo of modern Dracula tales which had recently soured him greatly. Stepping in to fill the cape arrived John Forbes-Robertson, a bit player of many films and he hams it up worse than anybody could. You feel like shouting; “He's behind you!” and expect Peter Cushing to say; “Oh no he's not!” Strike one against. We didn't need Dracula at all, The Brides of Dracula managed quite well didn't it?

We open wandering through Transylvania in 1804 -- according to the titles, and a lonely Eastern man struggles tiredly after what is we assume a long journey. He is seeking the burial tomb of Count Dracula, which he finds and kneels before it hearing standard rubber bats. With no prelude or much fanfare, Dracula rises to stand before him. “Who dares to disturb the sanctuary of Dracula?” booms a pasty faced lipstick wearing John Forbes-Robertson. It turns out this man is called Kah, and he's the High Priest of the Seven Golden Vampires who used to strike fear into the regions, but now they sleep and he has lost his power over the population. He wants help resurrecting them. Dracula isn't too impressed, calling him a wretch, he decides to take his body; “I need the form of your miserable carcass.” Dracula wishes to walk the Earth again.

We are then in Chung King, 1904 after the credits roll and Van Helsing travels giving lectures to bored and disbelieving students. Van Helsing has since we met him, researched the history of vampires, finding much of their roots in the East. He speaks of a village which is cursed every seventh moon. As he speaks, one particular student seems very interested. Van Helsing tells the story of a farmer who actually managed to fight the Seven Golden Vampires. They have a temple with nude girls strapped down being milked. He rescued his daughter and they brought about an army of zombie like victims to chase him. The zombies are skeleton mask wearing things which kind of bounce along carrying pitch forks. There's a lot of them and they are quite funny. In amongst this chaos, the farmer and his daughter die, but he manages to bring about the 'death' of one of the Golden Vampires.

The students all leave, after ridiculing Van Helsing's words, the one interested student follows him to his residence and they talk. This lad, Ching, knows of the village, and has come for help from Van Helsing. The farmer was actually his Grandfather. Ching has a large family of skilled brothers and one sister. They are all trained with a different fighting technique to the other. Van Helsing's son, and his newly found thrill seeking companion, Vanessa (played by Julie Ege of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Mutations) accompany the travellers after Ching has shown Van Helsing total proof of the story -- he has the golden bat taken from the deceased vampire.

Along the journey they are set upon by a gang of bad guys who Leyland (Van Helsing's son pissed off the boss of back in town) thus a well set up and lengthy battle ensues accompanied by a shed load of loud sound effects and vocal noises.

Camping down that night, Dr. Van Helsing explains all the ways to confront and defeat a vampire. He admits he is still unsure of some ways of the East, since his main body of knowledge is based in Europe. Suddenly the golden bat bursts into flames. “They know we are coming.” he warns.

Leyland Van Helsing has eyes for the sister of the group, Mei Kwei, whilst Ching looks towards Vanessa. Days of walking bring them all closer. As night approaches again, they bed down in a cave and the first round of the war begins. The remaining Seven Golden Vampires attack, followed by their crusade of bouncing zombies. Defeating some of the vampires, the group are exhausted. Ching admits they may not survive another attack. Van Helsing is optimistic, saying they will be ready at the village because this was a surprise assault.

When they arrive at the terrified village, they construct ways of increasing their odds and the last onslaught begins with huge amounts of martial arts, swords, gore and disco boogie zombies.

The finale is very well paced and has many eyebrow raising deaths; people you think would survive the film go down very quickly. Thankfully the standard confrontation between Van Helsing and Dracula is kept very slim, probably due to Forbes-Robertson being rubbish. I know I'm perhaps being a trifle unfair, you take any job you are given, however his acting ability in this role cannot be forgiven.

Like Captain Kronos, and Straight on Til MorningThe Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires,  was an experiment as Hammer tried to survive the maelstrom of new genres popping up. Personally, I think this was a success. Aside from Robin Stewart as Leyland, the cast give it their all (see, I didn't try to diss John again did I?) especially David Chiang who is perfectly cast as Hsi Ching. Of course, Peter Cushing is on top of his game as always. The zombie victims are so trashy they are amazing so they add to the entertainment value of the movie. Les Bowie, the effects man, was a legend himself, with so many credits to his name, including endless Hammer films, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Doctor Blood's Coffin, etcetera.

The DVD on Living Colour Entertainment doesn't serve up much as extras, in fact a total zero, but says it is fully uncut. Dunno what was cut, the last time I saw this flick was late night BBC in the early 90s and some breasts had been removed.





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 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 16:9
 Region: PAL R2
 Audio: Mono 1.0

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