I’m sure if you were a horror fan in 1972 and heard they were going to set a Dracula movie in the modern day, you would think, Man, what a silly idea. I’m a traditionalist, and don’t need to see Dracula hunting women at a disco or anything of that nonsense.
However, as a horror fan in 2016, Dracula hunting far-out occultists in 1972 is maybe the greatest idea in the world. As such, Dracula AD 1972 is a ton of fun, a creepy and twisted exploitation classic.
The basic idea is that centuries after his death, Count Dracula is summoned during a Satanic love-in at a decrepit church led by weed-smoking familiar Johnny Alucard (see, see what they did there). While the Count is excited by this new world full of sexually-promiscuous coeds and suffering Christian morals, it is in fact Van Helsing’s buxom granddaughter that most lights his fire. Now, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing, of course) must save his family and find a way to destroy the king of the vampires, all while surrounded by the raucous and sometimes baffling hangout culture of the early Seventies.
Besides featuring Lee and Cushing featured in as iconic Dracula and Van Helsing performances as they’ve ever played, Dracula AD 1972 also perfectly distills the occultism of the Love Generation. Remember that a movie released in 1972 is basically a late Sixties movie (all movies early in new decades are holdouts from the previous era–I’d posit that Home Alone is a Late Eighties flick). As such, you’re shown hippie culture through a blood-soaked lens, reminding the viewer how much so many of these young revolutionaries were just kids waaay out of their league when facing true darkness. The scene in which swaying hippies listening to throbbing prog rock summon Dracula from an overflowing chalice of putrid blood is as memorable as Bela Lugosi emerging from his coffin.
If you’re a purist, Jess Franco’s Count Dracula is probably the Christopher Lee movie you should stick to. But if you want to watch a zany horror movie that takes big risks and never fails to please, Dracula AD 1972 is the perfect film for you Halloween.