Sunday, March 31, 2019


The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) d. Roy Ward Baker (UK/Hong Kong) (89 min)

Black Belt vs. Black Magic! Hammer Horror! Dragon Thrills! The First Kung Fu Horror Spectacular!

After learning of a macabre vampiric cult, Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and his son Leyland (Robin Stewart) team up with student Hsi Ching (David Chiang), his sister Mai Kwei (Szu Shih), their five martial arts expert siblings (each skilled in a separate discipline), and heiress Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege), traveling en masse to the village of Ping Kuei. Throughout their journey, the group encounters numerous brutal attacks and ambushes until they arrive at the golden vampires' derelict temple, inhabited by Dracula in the guise of evil sorcerer Kah (Shen Chan), setting the stage for the ultimate clash between good and evil!

Following years of downward-spiraling box office receipts, Hammer chief Michael Carreras formed a two-picture deal with Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers in a desperate attempt to keep the studio afloat. Specializing in extravagant martial arts epics, the Hong Kong juggernaut seemed an odd bedfellow, but Carreras hoped that the sheer novelty of combining their tried-and-true formula of flesh and blood with flying fists and feet would attract audiences of both genres.

After eight years of grumbling and the embarrassing box office receipts of The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Christopher Lee finally refused to don the fangs again, but Peter Cushing was persuaded to return for his fifth (and final) turn as Prof. Van Helsing. True to form, the horror icon adds another memorable performance to his long career, his charismatic skills and grounded presence in full flower. (It’s worth noting that he is not playing the same character from Horror of Dracula or Brides of Dracula, nor his grandson, Lorrimer, whom we meet in Dracula 1972 A.D. and Satanic Rites, but rather a different member of the VH family, Lawrence.)

Producer/screenwriter Don Houghton’s original script did not, in fact, include Dracula as a character, but the decision was made to shoehorn him in; with Lee literally out of the picture, a replacement was found in John Forbes-Robinson, who had already appeared for Baker in the 1970 smash The Vampire Lovers as “the Man in Black.” Unfortunately, with his overdone lipstick and pancake makeup, Robinson conjures greater fears of being nibbled by Liberace than Vlad the Impaler. Further compounding his griefs, the actor’s vocal performance was later re-dubbed by versatile character actor David de Keyser.

Chiang and Ege (who had dazzled in Hammer’s otherwise forgettable - and dinosaur-free - Creatures the World Forgot) are appealing enough as the first of the film’s cross-cultural two pairs of lovers, primarily because they are given enough time and text to create characters of moderate depth and distinction. Not so for Stewart and Shih who barely register as anything beyond generic ingĂ©nues, though Shih proves a formidable and fiery presence in her fight scenes. (As the other siblings, through no fault of their own, the performers are identifiable almost exclusively by what weapon they happen to be wielding.)

Though notoriously plagued by production difficulties, including language barriers and conflicts over sound recording and set design, Carreras’ gamble paid off to a certain extent. The myriad action sequences (staged by Cheh Chang) are a decided highlight and the masked, fanged, wire-fu bloodsuckers were unlike any vampires fans had seen before. Baker keeps the action zipping along, Houghton’s script walks the line between outrageous camp and comfortable clichĂ©, while veteran composer James Bernard contributes a final, vibrant score for Hammer (although his name is misspelled in the opening credits as “Benard”) and it’s a doozey.

Regrettably, Warner Bros., high on their success from The Exorcist, reneged on their distribution deal, which left Hammer without an inroad to the all-important U.S. market. The film languished on shelves for years before Max Rosenberg (co-founder of Amicus Films with Milton Subotsky) picked it up and proceeded to cut over 10 minutes before unloading it on the fading drive-in market as the unappealingly titled The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula in 1978.

Shout! Factory presents this unique and entertaining Hammer History entry for the first time in high definition, complete in all its original, uncut, arterial spraying, flesh-flying glory.


NEW 2K scan of the original film elements

NEW audio commentary with author/film historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck (The Hammer Vampire)

NEW “When Hammer Met Shaw” – an interview with Actor David Chiang (7 min)

NEW “Kung Fear” – an interview with Hong Kong film expert Rick Baker (20 min)

Alternate U.S. Theatrical Version – The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula (in HD with Standard Definition inserts) (75 min)

Theatrical Trailers

TV Spot

Still Gallery

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is available April 9 on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:


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