aka THE 7 BROTHERS MEET DRACULA
(UK/Hong Kong - 1974; US release 1979)
Directed by Roy Ward Baker. Written by Don Houghton. Cast: Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Robin Stewart, Shih Szu, John Forbes-Robertson, Robert Hanna, Chan Shen, James Ma, Liu Hui Ling, Liu Chia Yung, Wong Han Chan, Chen Tien Loong, Fong Kah Ann. (Unrated, 89 mins/R, 75 mins)
With 1970's THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, Hammer Films started spicing up their horror offerings with generous doses of skin and sex in an attempt to inject new life into their product. They made a play for the youth market by benching Peter Cushing in favor of Ralph Bates as a much-younger Dr. Frankenstein in 1970's little-loved HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, and while they didn't replace Christopher Lee as Dracula, they did transport him with Cushing's Van Helsing to mod, swinging London in all its Austin Powers glory for 1972's DRACULA A.D. 1972 and 1973's THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA. Neither film was a hit, and while Cushing soldiered through them, Lee made sure to voice his displeasure with Hammer and the DRACULA series to anyone who would listen. Warner Bros. shelved SATANIC RITES in the US, where it wouldn't be released for another five years, and when pandering to the counterculture demographic failed, Hammer took an even more unpredictable approach by partnering on two 1974 projects with Hong Kong's Run Run Shaw, whose Shaw Brothers outfit was for responsible much of the burgeoning martial-arts craze: the horror/kung-fu hybrid THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES and the Stuart Whitman-starring Hong Kong-set actioner SHATTER.
5 FINGERS OF DEATH and the landmark ENTER THE DRAGON--shelving the film in the first place was an astonishingly bone-headed decision, let alone Dynamite's later catastrophic mangling of it, basically reducing it to fight scenes and T&A, with one topless shot of a woman repeated three times. Forget the 7 BROTHERS cut unless you need to analyze just how badly a good movie can be fucked up beyond recognition. THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES is an absolute blast and a worthy conclusion to Hammer's DRACULA series, and it's time for it to be given its rightful place among the studio's crowning achievements.
The butchered 7 BROTHERS MEET DRACULA version
opening in Toledo, OH on 10/5/1979