Taste the Blood of Dracula
Christoper Lee as Dracula
Geoffrey Keen as Williams Hargood
Gwen Watford as Marta Hargood
Linda Heywood as Alice Hargood
Peter Stills as Samuel Paxton
Opening up right after the ending of Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, we see Dracula (Christopher Lee) dying after being impaled on a crucifix, the blood dripping from the cross turning to red dust. Later, we meet Hargood (Geoffrey Keen) and two fellow hedonistic but distinguished men (Peter Sallis and John Carson) who are always in search of excitement in their mundane, upper class lives. They head to a brothel, where they encounter the eccentric Lord Courtley (Ralph Bates), who is known to practice black magic. He promises them the ultimate thrill, if they are willing to sell their souls to the Devil. He convinces them to buy artifacts that belonged to Count Dracula, which were found at the beginning of this film – including, of course, the blood turned into dust.. They perform a dark ritual, but then refuse to drink the powder, now mixed with Courtley’s blood after Courtley choked on the gruesome concoction followed by the three men beating him to death.
After they leave Dracula possesses the dead man’s body, and he becomes the evil vampire, who has now sworn vengeance upon those who have killed his servant. Among those who will feel his vengeance is the pretty daughter of Hargood, Alice (Linda Hayden) who becomes the Count’s latest female interest in Taste the Blood of Dracula. Her boyfriend, Paul Paxton (Anthony Corlan), may be the only one who can save her and defeat the evil vampire.
Taste the Blood of Dracula is a dark and well made entry to Hammer’s Dracula series. The black mass scene, in particular, is one of the movie’s highlights, as well as one of the most memorable moments in the entire franchise.
The pace of Taste the Blood of Dracula is a bit slow to start, so it takes some time to get into the more exciting parts, but the story manages to keep you intrigued as to what will happen next. So, that in this way it is never boring. The climax is exciting and a bit ingenious in the ways depicted to dispatch a vampire. There are some good little bits of bloodletting and violence, including some slashing, neck biting, and a rather vicious impaling. This film also marks the first time that Hammer dabbled in nudity, as a couple of bare breasts do make an appearance.
The acting is very strong in Taste the Blood of Dracula. Geoffrey Keen pulls in a strong performance as a very morally questionable man that grabs a good part of the film’s focus. Ralph Bates is certainly creepy in his role as the Devil-worshipping Lord Courtley, and while he doesn’t last long he certainly leaves a lasting impression. It is Christopher Lee, though, who is most threatening and memorable in a truly evil interpretation of the role that made him so famous. As always there is also a seductive side to Lee that secures him as the definitive Dracula to many. Linda Hayden is a likable and pretty female lead, though her friend Lucy (Ilsa Blair) is even more attractive. Both women became much sexier while under the power and control of Dracula.
Taste the Blood of Dracula is definitely the best of Hammer’s direct Dracula sequels, if not in fact all of the Dracula sequels. It manages to showcases the studio at its very finest. The more graphic sanguinary spillage and skin definitely stands as a foreshadowing of things to come with Hammer, as this is the time period where the studio sought to catch up with other films of the era with increasingly explicit content.
Taste the Blood of Dracula is a must see entry to the monster movie subgenre of horror, and while you don’t need to see the earlier installments to enjoy this one, I do always recommend starting with Horror of Dracula before going on to the films that followed. This is one movie that vampire fans need to see, as well as fans of classic horror, and those interested in seeing the shift in style begin to unfold for Britain’s great Hammer Studios.