The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires – UK/Hong Kong – 1974

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The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a 1974 horror feature film produced by Hammer Studios and Shaw Brothers Studio and an attempt to refresh the horror genre by combining it with the then popular martial arts craze. It stars Peter Cushing, John Forbes-Robertson, Robin Stewart and Julie Ege.

It was belatedly released in North America in June 1979 in an edited version as The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, and is alternatively known as The Seven Brothers and Their One Sister Meet Dracula. The North American release version trims twenty minutes of the film’s footage and soundtrack and loops several remaining scenes to fill the running time.

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The film is notable for having an actor other than Christopher Lee to portray Count Dracula in the Hammer Dracula series. The role of Dracula is played by John Forbes-Robertson (though the actor’s voice is dubbed by David de Keyser).

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Set in 1900s China, vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) has travelled to China to lecture students about the legend of a remote Chinese village that lives under the curse of seven deadly vampires. The vampires strike every year at the time of the seventh moon, tormenting the villagers and causing terror and bloodshed in the community.

The villagers approach Van Helsing and ask him to join forces with local kung fu experts to rid the village of the tyrannical vampires and restore peace and order. He complies with their request, and along with his son Leyland (Robin Stewart) and a pretty young heiress, Vanessa (Julie Ege), he sets out to rid the village of its curse.

However, in the meantime, Count Dracula (John Forbes-Robertson) has arrived in the vicinity in the guise of a warlord to restore the power of the vampires and add to the carnage…

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Both Roy Ward Baker, a British director who had helmed previous Hammer films such as Scars of Dracula; Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde; and Quatermass and the Pit, and Chang Cheh, a veteran Hong Kong action director, worked on the movie, though only Baker is credited.

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Van Helsing Peter Cushing

During some scenes involving roving gangs of undead, several vampires can be seen hopping up and down, as vampires tend to do in Chinese vampire films.

Buy DVD from Amazon.co.uk

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The deleted DVD from Anchor Bay features both The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula version as well as the original uncut Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires version. The DVD also features a recording of Peter Cushing telling the story of the film with music and sound effects, which was released as an LP record at the time of the film’s release.

Reviews:

“It’s pretty much as ridiculous as it sounds, but there’s something inherently entertaining about make-up-splattered vampires, distinguished British actors, and martial artists squaring off in periodic eruptions of kung-fu fighting.” Keith Phipps, The AV Club

“Cushing, in his last Hammer Dracula film, is as commanding as ever, but he and his Western companions are pretty disposable to the plot until the end, where the professor is left alone with the Count, who is hardly needed. Nevertheless, this last Hammer vampire outing has a real energy, in spite of being a mish-mash, and is different enough to get by on sheer novelty alone.” Grame Clark, The Spinning Image

“Alternately campy and spellbinding, and punctuated by entirely enthusiastic martial arts sequences, this one makes for a very fun watch indeed. Certainly, it falls into the “what’s going on here!??” category. But that’s part of its charm, and nevertheless it’s guaranteed to hold your interest.” The Terror Trap

“One of the great disasters in horror film history, this turkey put the final nail in Hammer’s bankruptcy coffin.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics

Cast and characters:

  • Peter Cushing … Professor Van Helsing
  • John Forbes-Robertson … Count Dracula
  • Robin Stewart as Leyland Van Helsing
  • Julie Ege as Vanessa Buren
  • Robert Hanna as British Consul
  • David Chiang as Hsi Ching/Hsi Tien-en
  • Shih Szu as Mai Kwei
  • Chan Shen as Kah the High Priest/Count Dracula’s host
  • Lau Kar-wing as Hsi Kwei (archer)
  • Huang Pei-Chih as Hsi Po-Kwei (spearman)
  • Wang Chiang as Hsi San (twin swordsman)
  • Feng Ko-An as an assassin
  • Hsu Hsia as an assassin
  • David de Keyser … the voice of Dracula [uncredited]

Technical details:

Panavision 2:35:1

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One Comment on “The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires – UK/Hong Kong – 1974”

  1. Lot of good here, but a lot of bad too. Like some have said, had it been better and more successful, it could have led to some interesting cross country/cross genre film. Basically see Big Trouble in Little China if you want to see East/West done right. But it is always a treat to see Cushing slay vampires.

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