Review Date: October 13, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 10/20/1998
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: No
The year was 1973 and Hammer Studios was still trying to bring the Dracula legend into the 20th century....
The film opens with an undercover agent, who has been severely beaten, telling of his investigation into a house where devil worshiping and black magic rituals have been taking place. He tells of four eminent men being involved in these rituals and then he dies from his wounds. His superiors are convinced that the agent was delusional at the end, but after the film from his camera has been developed and the ceremonies are seen in the photos, they do take his story seriously.
Not knowing how to handle the situation, the agents go to the home of an expert in the occult.....Lorimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing
). Van Helsing looks the photos over and agrees that what the photos show are indeed an occult ceremony. When Van Helsing's granddaughter enters the study, she informs the agents that one of the men seen in the photos is a college friend of her grandfather's. Van Helsing admits that one of the men is a friend and he said nothing, because he planned on approaching his friend to see what he was doing involved in such ceremonies. The agents agree that he should approach the man and find out what his involvement with this cult is about.
What Van Helsing discovers is that his friend has developed a more powerful and deadly strain of the Bubonic Plague. This anthrax has been commissioned by business man, D.D. Denham, in an effort to hold the governments of the world hostage. After more investigating on the part of Van Helsing, Jessica and one of the agents, D.D. Denhem is discovered to be, Count Dracula (Christopher Lee
). Dracula's plan is much more sinister than the men in the cult ever imagined and both Van Helsing and Jessica are to play major roles in the Count's final revenge!
Satanic Rites of Dracula
is, in my opinion, a film that receives a lot of bad press. Granted, it may be one of the weaker entries in the Hammer Dracula series, but the plot to this film is quite chilling. Revenge is often a terrifying tale and this is no exception, Dracula's idea for the ultimate revenge on mankind is, simply put, terrifying. This film can boast of some good effects and as always, it's a pleasure to see Cushing and Lee working together. Where the film tends to fall short of the mark is the almost non-existent development of the characters as well as the jumping about of the story. It should also be noted that this would be the final time we would see Cushing and Lee together in a Dracula film for Hammer Studios. Lee had grown very disillusioned with Hammer's direction with the Dracula series and said the only way he would don the cape and fangs again for the studio would be if they filmed a story much more faithful to the Stoker novel.
Anchor Bay presents Satanic Rites of Dracula
in the non-anamorphic format, but in the widescreen presentation of 1.85:1. This is the original uncut version of the film. There are some problems with the transfer, color fidelity is inconsistent, the colors are often rich, but the flesh tones often appear a bit orange. I noticed a grainy texture in several of the effects scenes and some minor print damage. The picture can occasionally look soft as well.
The score is the saving grace here, but it is presented in a rather disappointing Dolby Digital Mono. At times I found myself turning the volume down because of a sudden blast, while at other times I'd be reaching for the remote, because of a muffled sound to the dialogue. While not a constant problem, static can also be heard at various times in the film.
Not too much here. Extras are located on side two of the DVD. This disc can only boast the US and UK theatrical trailers and the World of Hammer episode entitled, Dracula and the Undead. The following films are covered in this episode: Brides of Dracula, Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter, Dracula (Horror of), Dracula-Prince of Darkness, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, Scars of Dracula, Vampire Circus
Being the Hammer fan I am, it's nearly impossible for me to say anything negative about a film from Hammer Studios, so I won't start here! I will warn any newcomers to the Hammer fold, if you've never seen a Dracula/Vampire film from Hammer Studios, don't make this film your first to see. The film/story is not a bad experience, but it may be more of an acquired taste and may even take more than one viewing to appreciate the film. The DVD doesn't seem to be up to the high standards we've come to expect from Anchor Bay, but the transfer isn't so bad that the film can't be enjoyed, just keep in mind that the transfer does have some problems. If you're a Hammer completest, you'll definitely want this on your shelf, if your looking for a DVD to do little more than entertain, then I recommend renting it first.
Movie – B
Image Quality – C
Sound – C
Supplements – B-
- Running Time - 1 hour 27 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- 12 Chapter Stops
- Dolby Digital Mono
- World of Hammer episode