The film opens at the climax of a battle between Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) and his nemesis, Lawrence Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), atop a runaway horse carriage. The carriage crashes and both a hurt badly; Van Helsing's last act is to impale the wounded Dracula with a wooden wheel spoke in lieu of a stake.
|Dancing on a table? Now I've seen everything!|
Yes, "Alucard" is Dracula spelled backwards. It's kind of odd that it appears to be his family name, but whatever. It's not like he's trying to raise Dracula from the dead and has randomly befriended a descendant of Dracula's greatest enemy, right? Riiiiight?!? Well, crap. Johnny has picked Jessica and her fellow spoiled socialite youngsters because they're stupid enough to be looking for thrills; Johnny persuades them to partake in a black magic ceremony to raise Dracula from the grave.
|Alternate video for Tears for Fears' "Shout"|
Most of the time, the first thing I notice about a movie is its acting. With Dracula A.D. 1972, I noticed the tone. This movie is campy as shit. Part of it is the omnipresent soundtrack, composed by a former Manfred Mann member, and part of it is the band that plays in the first scene, but it is all wrong. This soundtrack was dated before it even hit theaters. The dialogue in the movie is the scariest part of the film, if only because someone was paid to write it. The strangest thing about this movie is that it focuses on Jessica Van Helsing and Johnny Alucard, not Professor Van Helsing and Dracula. This is a very youth-driven film, obviously aimed at a young, "hep" audience, and the way they chose to appeal to this audience was to make this into a goofy (but not comedic) Dracula movie.
The acting is hit-and-miss here. Christopher Lee was great as Dracula, even though he has very little screen time. He is able to seem dark and evil and majestic, even with some awful dialogue surrounding him.
|You'd think Dracula would have perfect teeth, but no|
|Or occasionally very lame|
So, what makes Dracula A.D. 1972 so bad? Where to start? I've already mentioned the comically outdated soundtrack and dialogue, but it bears repeating --- they suck. There isn't much logic to the story, either. Dracula's ashes were buried in (or maybe just outside of) a churchyard, but Alucard still had a vial of them left over? Why did Dracula make such a big deal about turning Jessica into a vampire? Wouldn't it have made more sense for him to go after the living Van Helsing with knowledge of the occult? If those were the only problems, I would be fine with the movie, but there's plenty more. Alucard's name is absolutely ridiculous. It's like a Russian sleeper agent taking the last name of "Tsinummoc." And you're telling me that the presumed third generation of Dracula loyalists doesn't recognize the name Van Helsing? That's dumb. Speaking of Alucard, he is beaten in a fight by Peter "I'm very old" Cushing, even though he (Alucard) resorted to fighting with a knife.