‘The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampire’ Retro Review
In the early 1970’s the Gods of Cult Films smiled upon moviegoers the world over when; Hammer Studios, the dominant studio behind the great gothic horror films of the era, collaborated with the Shaw Brothers, the studio responsible for the greatest martial arts films of the era. In a madcap experiment, the two decided to mix their respective styles and have the eternal battle between Count Dracula and Van Helsing moved to China and became intertwined with the quest of seven siblings to rid their village of a supernatural menace. The end product was, as you can imagine, a picture so weird that it works.
When the shaman Kah, ventures to Transylvania to seek the infamous vampire’s aid in resurrecting his seven gold vampires he is instead killed by the Count who takes his form in order to go to China and use the seven vampires for his own purposes. As fate would have it, Dracula’s arch nemesis Dr. Van Helsing, is also in China in order to lecture about the vampire legend. The legendary monster hunter is recruited by six brothers and their sister to aid them in fighting the seven golden vampires who are terrorizing their village. And this is where the Shaw Brother’s influence kicks off, as these siblings utilize their expertise with a variety of ninja weapons to battle other martial artists as well as the golden vampires.
To properly mesh these two very different styles together, two directors were of course necessary so each studio chose one of their seasoned veterans; Roy Ward Baker who helmed the Scars of Dracula and Quatermass and the Pit team with Chang Cheh of The One-Armed Swordsman and Five Deadly Venoms fame. The expertise these two gentlemen had in their genre paid off as the pairing of gothic horror and high octane martial arts blended together much better than anyone would have expected. In fact if you need an entry way into Asian cinema, this would serve as a great gateway as many Western audiences would be familiar with the horror tropes presented in the Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. The biggest thing that this strange picture has going against it, it is in the casting, or rather what was lacking in the cast. During Hammer Horror’s run at the top of the genre, Sir Christopher Lee had become their biggest star playing Dracula in their franchise. Sadly when the time to make the Seven Golden Vampires came around he had grown tired of wearing the cape and did not return. Rather John Forbes-Robertson had to fill in as an adequate Count, with David de Keyser providing the voice work. Even with the absence of Hammer’s true Dracula the rest of the cast give some great work. Peter Cushing was of course well practiced at playing Van Helsing by this time and was once again fantastic as the famed vampire slayer. Veteran character actor, Shen Chan, obviously had a blast playing Kah (or Dracula in Kah’s form as the case would be), being an old hand and playing theatrical villains this was second nature for him.
When I recently discussed The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires on, the Aymerich Show recently, we concluded that if there were ever a movie deserving of being labelled as “cool” this is it. This picture expertly straddles two very different genre and makes it look easy. Though one could make the argument that Hammer’s legendary Dracula series of films deserved a better ending, it does not diminish the pure fun of this flick.
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