Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Uncanny (1977) review



THE UNCANNY 1977

Peter Cushing (Wilbur Gray), Ray Milland (Frank Richards), Joan Greenwood (Miss Malkin), Roland Culver (Wallace), Susan Penhaligon (Janet), Simon Williams (Michael), Alexandra Stewart (Mrs. Blake), Donald Pilon (Mr. Blake), Chloe Franks (Angela), Katrina Holden (Lucy), Renee Girard (Miss. Maitland), Donald Pleasence (Valentine De'ath), Samantha Eggar (Edina), John Vernon (Pomeroy), Catherine Begin (Madeleine), Jean Leclerc (Barrington), Sean McCann (Inspector)

Directed by Denis Heroux

The Short Version: Three tales (plus a wraparound) of feline fury are spun in this Canadian-British co-production featuring a stellar cast pitted against malevolent mousers. In its favor, the filmmakers are successful at making the cats look especially menacing and manage to imbue their picture with an unexpectedly gruesome quality. Still, the THE UNCANNY cats failed to land on their feet theatrically; but showed they indeed had nine lives on television where most caught this middle of the road anthology for the first time so it's not an entirely de-clawed affair.


One dark night, an Ailurophobic author visits his publisher to convince him to print his manuscript on the murderous, vindictive propensities of cats. Three fear-filled documents are revealed: a maid and her boyfriend plot to kill a rich woman although her dozens of house cats have other plans; a young girl is taken in by her mother's sister after her parents are killed in a plane crash. Severely bullied by the daughter of the house, the young girl and her cat plot a devilish revenge; and finally, an actor and his lover incur the wrath of his wife's cat after plotting her death on the set of a Gothic horror film.


After dissolving his Amicus Productions partnership with Max J. Rosenberg in 1975, American producer Milton Subotsky went out on his own, setting up other production companies. Sword & Sorcery Productions in 1975; and Tor Productions in 1976--a partnership with Canadian producer Claude Heroux. The former was the more intriguingly tragic of the two--struggling for years in a futile attempt at getting a live-action Thongor movie off the ground (you can read about the unmade Thongor movie HERE); only managing to see a few movies from its ambitious roster released before closing down in 1980; one of them being THE MONSTER CLUB (1981).


The latter, Tor Productions, the company that made THE UNCANNY, did so under the UK-Canada co-production agreement signed in 1975--a treaty that allowed for mutual, lucrative benefits of the collaborative countries involved. Unfortunately, it did nothing to aid the picture in turning a profit; despite an unusually stellar cast the likes of which hadn't been seen since the earlier, more recognizable Amicus portmanteau efforts.


Looking back, it would appear Subotsky's failure with THE UNCANNY would mirror the disaster that befell THE MONSTER CLUB; the difference being the latter title was strictly a British affair. Written by Michel Parry from Subotsky's own story, the idea was originally five segments but ultimately cut down to three--one of which was to have a comedic slant. Curiously, the most dire story from THE MONSTER CLUB was a comical one and, like the darkly humorous entry of THE UNCANNY, it too starred Donald Pleasence.


Tentatively titled BRRR, that frigid moniker doesn't exactly bring killer cats to mind so much as it does standing out in the cold for too long. As problematic as Heroux's movie seems to have been behind the camera, and accompanied by a deluge of negative notices upon its release, the picture really isn't as bad as its pedigree suggests.

The narrative of evil cats manipulating and murdering man sounds outrageous on the surface, but the animals have a rich folkloric attachment to cultures around the world; spiritual and superstitious. The script taps into this vein of mystification for two of its stories, only the result isn't entirely successful.


For example, the wraparound's subtle treatment of the inexplicable captures a forbidding atmosphere the more overtly supernatural segment misses. Cushing's cat-crazy rantings make him seem unhinged even though his feline phobia is justified. His performance works well playing off of Ray Milland's skeptical publisher. The scenes with these two fine thespians are among the picture's strongest points. The camera angles and edits during the connecting portions give the malicious tabbies spooky traits the stories themselves fail to generate. 

If only the movie had the sinister omnipresence of the wraparound segments, THE UNCANNY would be an out of the ordinary omnibus.

In keeping with the nature of Cushing's character's book, the three entries are titled by location and year of occurrence.


LONDON 1912: The bed-ridden and wealthy Miss Malkin rewrites her will leaving everything to her numerous house cats and leaving nothing for her nephew Michael. Not to be impeded in his quest for a lucrative inheritance, Michael plots with his lover, Janet, who happens to be Malkin's maid, to destroy the original will. Malkin catches Janet during the theft attempt who then murders the old woman. Malkin's loyal pack of felines decide to avenge the death of their master, trapping Janet in the pantry with nothing but a little bread and cat food to eat.


This London-set opener benefits from some surprisingly stomach-turning moments. THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT's Susan Penhaligon's reluctant murderess comes to a particularly nasty end in a role with less to chew on than what is reserved for her cat comeuppance. This entry could've used some trimming for pacing, but otherwise, it's a decent start for a film that never rises above adequacy. The tale hearkens back to Hammer's 1961 B/W thriller, THE SHADOW OF THE CAT; and bears some semblance to the 1969 American horror movie, EYE OF THE CAT; directed by David Lowell Rich.


QUEBEC PROVINCE 1975: Lucy's parents are killed in a plane crash so she is sent to live with her relatives, the Blake's. Lucy immediately makes waves with her late mother's sister when she introduces her pet cat Wellington. Things go further south when Mrs. Blake discovers Lucy shares her mother's interest in witchcraft. Mercilessly tormented by her cousin, Angela, who doesn't want her there, Lucy, along with her cat, plot a devilish revenge.


Story #2 is the most elaborate and the least interesting of the three. It mirrors a similar tale told in the far superior THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1970) that also featured Chloe Franks playing a part akin to the role of Lucy here. The problem is pacing again. Running approximately 25 minutes, it feels twice as long. Chloe does make Angela incredibly unlikable, but her mother's disdain for Lucy feels fragmented, and not sufficiently realized; unlike the same arc between Chris Lee and Chloe's father--daughter arc in the aforementioned Amicus favorite. The witchcraft finale that sees Angela shrunk down to rodent-size, and battling Wellington is silly, but topped off with a gruesome denouement. 


HOLLYWOOD 1936: After Valentine De'ath's wife is killed on a movie set when a prop is swapped out for the real thing, a replacement actress is sought. Naturally, the actor already has someone in mind... his much younger lover who bears a striking resemblance to his wife. Desiring to also rid his house of his wife's pet cat, Valentine flushes its babies down the toilet before trying to get rid of the mother; unless the vengeful cat gets rid of them first.


The last story is the best due to Donald Pleasence's Price-ian performance as the mad actor Valentine De'ath. The Gothic atmosphere due to the film-set ambiance helps a lot, as does the tongue-in-cheek nature of the narrative; even if much of the comedy doesn't work well. There is a nice in-joke to Pleasence's role as Blofeld in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) and a guest turn from the future Dean Wormer himself, John Vernon. There's even a subtle jab at Hollywood's famous phrase, 'The Show Must Go On'--in that not even the death of a performer can impede their replacement before one's blood is cold. Overall, it's the liveliest of the three tales. Both Eggar and Pleasence are detestable people and both come to satisfactorily gory ends; in one case, answering the question as to whether the cat has your tongue or not.


While Subotsky wrote the original story for the film, writer Michel Parry was a novelist--penning, among other things, the 1971 movie tie-in of Hammer's COUNTESS DRACULA (1971). He served as editor on the anthology books 'The Rivals of King Kong: A Rampage of Beasts' (1978); 'The Hounds of Hell' (1974); and, of particular interest in relation to this review, 'Beware of the Cat: Weird Tales About Cats' (1972). Featuring tales written by H.P. Lovecraft, Theodore Sturgeon, Ambrose Bierce, and Ramsey Campbell among others. Parry also wrote the story for 1982s intriguing tale of alien horror, XTRO.


There's been a few dozen movies featuring killer cats--from the classy to the trashy--and THE UNCANNY is the most recognizable of the litter. By 1977, horror had virtually buried its Gothic trappings for more visceral terror, making Heroux's modestly grisly cat creature feature feel like it came ten years too late; but with this cast, it's kind of disappointing it's not as engaging as it could've been. Probably the best thing to be said about THE UNCANNY is its strong nostalgia factor since most viewers familiar with the film will remember it fondly from late night television and Saturday afternoon airings.

This review is representative of the Severin bluray. Specs and extras: 1080p HD 1.78:1; interview with actress Susan Penhaligon; trailer; running time: 01:28:42

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) review



THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES 1974 aka THE SEVEN BROTHERS MEET DRACULA aka DRACULA AND THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES

Peter Cushing (Professor Van Helsing), David Chiang (Hsi Ching), Julie Ege (Vanessa Buren), Shih Szu (Hsi Mai Kwai), Robin Stewart (Leyland Van Helsing), Chan Shen (Kah), John Forbes Robertson (Dracula)

Directed by Roy Ward Baker

The Short Version: Weary of European blood, Dracula travels to Asia to dine on the sanguinary taps of virginal Chinese ladies and resurrect seven crusty-skinned comrades wearing gold face masks in this LEGENDary co-production. Hammer and Shaw Brothers combine for a version of THE SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) as 'The Seven Kung Fu Brothers' (and their one sister!) with less emphasis on characterization than on bone-shattering martial arts action. GOLDEN VAMPIRES is both Hammer's most exotic production and also their most action-packed; and one of the company's most underrated pictures. Far more appreciated in KF movie circles than the more uppity Euro-Gothic ones, it's undeniable the level of energy and sense of adventure that was untapped terrain for the dying British horror company; and business as usual for the Hong Kong movie moguls.


Kah, an evil Chinese monk, travels to Transylvania seeking Count Dracula--hopeful he will resurrect the 7 Golden Vampires so that Kah will lord over the populace once more. Dracula has other plans, though, deciding to take over Kah's body to escape Europe and initiate a reign of terror in China among isolated villages with his undead hosts. One hundred years later, Laurence Van Helsing is speaking at Chunking University on the subjects of Count Dracula and a local legend about a cursed village. After being ridiculed by the Chinese students, one of them, Hsi Ching, reveals the village of the legend is his ancestral home and that it is terrorized by the same Golden Vampires of the legend. Mounting an expedition over treacherous terrain, Van Helsing, Hsi Ching, and seven other kung fu fighters battle their way through the Seven Golden Vampires, their undead zombie slaves, and Count Dracula himself to free the village of evil.

In an effort to revitalize its dying product after growing audience disinterest, Hammer Films joined forces with the Shaw Brothers of Hong Kong to produce the first ever Kung Fu/Horror hybrid. Despite numerous clashes during the film's making, the two companies managed to pull out all the stops to deliver what is arguably Hammer's most entertaining film of the 1970s and the most action-packed picture in their catalog.


Roy Ward Baker had directed some of Hammer's best genre works like QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967), THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), and DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971). He also helmed a personal favorite in the Dracula series, SCARS OF DRACULA (1970). As for GOLDEN VAMPIRES, Baker had little good to say about it. This was Hammer's last Dracula picture, and Baker, despite his displeasure of having been its director, turned in a rousing entertainment that rarely slows down; made all the more riveting by James Bernard's adrenaline-pumping score. Despite its flaws, GOLDEN VAMPIRES is easily the most exotic and exciting movie from the British House of Horror.


Hammer was at a low ebb in 1973 due to audiences having grown tired of the requisite Gothic trappings and the obligatory (but not unwelcome) diaphanous gowns of curvaceous cast members. The recycled story ideas bore some innovation and splashed extra blood, but it wasn't enough to hold viewers attention when movies like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and THE EXORCIST (1973) were reinventing the genre in graphically realistic ways. Kung Fu was the in-thing at that time and Hammer hoped aligning with a major 'Fist and Kick' player would be the antidote they needed to improve their ailing formula.

Regardless of all the troubles incurred making GOLDEN VAMPIRES, the end result benefits from the vigorous Kung Fu battles between men and monsters. Liu Chia Liang and Tang Chia, two of Hong Kong's most famous action directors, choreographed the Kung Fu sequences. There are three major set pieces and three smaller ones spread evenly throughout the film's brisk 89 minutes.


The first major action is a beautifully edited display of the seven brothers (and their one sister) wiping out a local gangster and his men. The scene culminates in one of the film's best moments when Hsi Ching (David Chiang) pierces a man's throat with his fingers. Before letting his dead body hit the ground, he wipes his bloody digits on his clothes! This moment of brutality gives Hsi Ching some additional characterization without him having to say anything. Up to this point, he's shown himself to be a reserved, highly learned, intellectual man. During this battle, he shows another side of his personality by his ferocious fighting ability and his grimly sarcastic hand cleansing.


The second major action sequence takes place inside a cave. Exhausted, Van Helsing and the others attempt to get some much needed rest; but this is interrupted by three of the Golden Vampires and their skull-faced minions. This is the first time we see the brothers in serious trouble, obtaining some injuries during the fight, but managing to inflict greater damage to the undead hordes. It's in this scene where Cushing proclaims the classic line, "Strike at their hearts!" And so they do. It's a fine precursor to the final fight, foreshadowing the dread ahead.


The third and last battle is a fitting finale. Each of the fights grow and build to a crescendo, which is what movies should do. GOLDEN VAMPIRES is successful in this way. Despite having made preparations for this last attack, the brothers are fatigued; and as usual in these sorts of movies with a team of warriors, not all of them make it to the final credit crawl. James Bernard's music raises the bar during this lengthy sequence, making it even more exciting and intense than it already is.


There's several rousing moments at the end--including one brother who martyrs himself to take out one of the Golden Vampires in a fiery display of self-sacrifice. Another involves David Chiang and Julie Ege in one of Hammer's most gripping scenes in their entire horror registry.


An additional point of interest is Peter Cushing getting energized in the action scenes. He's jumping around and swinging torches in a vigorous display of physicality the likes of which hadn't been seen since BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960). Arguably the then 60 year old Cushing's most action-centric role, he slays more vampires and unholy creatures than his last two turns as Van Helsing combined.


One of the biggest clashes occurred behind the scenes--between the British and Chinese crews on how the martial arts scenes would be filmed. Run Run Shaw was so displeased with Baker's action footage that the feeling was the Chinese were going to take over the picture with their own director and crew. Baker was adamant about being the sole director although Run Run Shaw reportedly insisted the Kung Fu sequences be shot by a Chinese director. Reportedly, Liu Chia Liang, one of the most revered choreographers in HK film history, was insulted when Baker proclaimed he could shoot Kung Fu better than the Chinese.


In HK martial arts films back in the day, the director and action choreographers worked together on details of the fights, weapons used, etc; but the action choreographer(s) handled the direction of the fights. In Shaw's own publications, from October 1973 to June 1974, GOLDEN VAMPIRES was promoted as a production solely under Roy Ward Baker's guidance. Curiously, in the July 1974 edition of Hong Kong Movie News, it was being advertised as jointly directed by Baker and Chang Cheh.


No photos of Chang Cheh on set were in Shaw's film mags, but he can be seen directing, and or supervising the fights on the set of SHATTER (1974), the second of the Hammer-Shaw cooperative efforts. It's possible Chang supervised the fights while the choreographers worked their magic as was common practice. Meanwhile, Baker shot the fights the way he wanted. This is the set-up that was reportedly agreed upon during the filming. However, it is also possible that Chang Cheh directed new action scenes after the Brit crew had already left Hong Kong--with those scenes exclusive to the HK theatrical version. 

Unfortunately, the HK cut of GOLDEN VAMPIRES was not part of the Celestial remasters of the Shaw Brothers movie catalog from the early 2000s; so that version hasn't been seen by an audience since its July 1974 theatrical showing in Hong Kong.


If you're a fan of Shaw Brothers movies you'll recognize the ominous pagoda that serves as the lair of the vampires. Standing one-hundred feet and seven stories high, it was built in 1969 specifically for Chang Cheh's HAVE SWORD WILL TRAVEL (1970) starring David Chiang, Ti Lung, and baby Queen, the adorable Li Ching. Unfortunately, the filmmakers never utilize the grand construct the way it was used in past Shaw Brothers pictures. We only see the bottom floor decked out in suitably ghoulish tresses where the vampires feast on the blood of Chinese women--their blood pooled into a boiling cauldron of bubbling plasma.

Incidentally, Peter Cushing had designed some intricate models of the vampire lair intended for a museum display that never came to be. Cushing's models were more elaborate than what ended up onscreen. It's one of the few areas the picture could've explored a bit more even if it's an insignificant gripe.

However, the biggest misstep the movie takes is a bit of scripting sloppiness that's evident right at the very beginning. At the outset, a title card says "Transylvania 1804". After the Dracula segment, it switches to China with a title card stating, "Chung King 1904". Immediately thereafter we enter the Chinese university and witness Van Helsing discuss his battles with Dracula and the existence of other fiendish creatures. If 100 years has passed since Dracula made the pilgrimage to China, then Van Helsing has some explaining to do since that would put him well over a hundred years old himself! Incidentally, Chinese articles from when the film began shooting stated the time period was the late 1880s; so it's possible some revisions were made although this is one bit of business that could've been rectified fairly easily.

Considering the type of movie being made by Hammer and Shaw, expositional expansion wasn't practical. Kurosawa's THE SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) being an influence, it had over 3 1/2 hours to tell its story; GOLDEN VAMPIRES only has 89, and characterization isn't high on the list.


Another scripting catastrophe is that it doesn't explore the brothers at all. We get their names and they get no lines. David Chiang is given the most depth with Shih Szu close behind. The rest are just actors brandishing swords, axes, and spiked hammers. Just a handful of lines would have given them a lot of pathos to benefit the compelling death scenes during the finale.

The Golden Vampires aren't explored either, but they don't need to be. Differentiated by their multi-colored robes, they're otherwise interchangeable. The leader is the one wearing the bear-skin clothing and we only know this because he's the last one standing who gallops off with Shih Szu before our remaining heroes give chase. They are suitably menacing, and stand out as the only vampires in Hammer's vampire chronology to appear to have already been out in the sun too long with their ashy, hornet's nest-like skin. They make an even greater impression riding their horses in slow-motion akin to the Knights Templar of Amando de Ossorio's TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) series. Curiously, the slo-mo Golden Vamps riding their steeds is only used in a single sequence.

The plot point about the Golden Vamps seeking the medallion of their 7th member who was seen destroyed in a flashback, isn't expounded upon much, either. There's simply too much going on for an 89 minute movie although the distractions are plentiful.


Meanwhile, John Forbes Robertson stepped into the Dracula role vacated by Christopher Lee. Apparently it was offered to Lee in spite of his lamentations in returning to the role time and again only to do less and less with each sequel. As fantastic as it would've been for Lee to star in Hammer's last Dracula picture, it was likely for the best since he wouldn't be in the movie all that much but would've had several minutes of lines; the lack of which was the main reason for Lee's growing disenchantment with the role. Robertson didn't enjoy playing Dracula either after learning his voice was dubbed by another actor.


On the other side of the coin, Chan Shen, who plays Kah, the malicious monk whose body Dracula takes possession of, does a fantastic job in his scenes as the devilish Count. Essaying villain roles the bulk of his career, the wild-eyed Shen strikes a menacing chord whenever he's on-screen. He turned up in another supporting role the following year in the flashy Shaw-Warner co-pro, CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD (1975).


Asian cinema--particularly its Golden Age--is so prolific, it's not the easiest genre to always nail down accurate information. However, in most instances, a little scrutiny goes a long way. With that said, the blu-ray commentary by Bruce G. Hallenbeck works best when focused on the British side of things but slops it up with cursory analysis when channeling the Hong Kong side of the production. Some of these same errors can be found in 'Little Shoppe of Horrors' #32 on the making of LEGEND. Everyone makes mistakes but some of these are surprisingly careless when even the most basic of research could provide accuracy. Whereas there are seven brothers, here are seven mistakes:

1. Chang Cheh was not a martial arts choreographer. He was a filmmaker credited with making the first action movie to make a million dollars at the HK box office; that being THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967). He was also responsible for initiating masculine cinema in HK when women were previously the dominant force in movies there. He created a slew of Chinese superstars, and started careers for many HK filmmakers, most famously with John Woo; whose filmmaking style shares commonality with Cheh's.

2. Shaw's did not produce Bruce Lee's movies. Shaw's fledgling competition at that time, Golden Harvest, financed Bruce's pictures; the popularity of which saved them from bankruptcy--eventually co-producing ENTER THE DRAGON (1973) with Warner Brothers (whom Shaw's also had a relationship with). Of course, Bruce did go to Shaw's first but rejected their standard contract. After his star rose, he did visit the studio and there were talks of negotiations with Lee to finally work for the company, but he died before anything could be finalized.

3. It was Ti Lung, and not David Chiang, who won an Outstanding Performance Award for Chang Cheh's BLOOD BROTHERS (1973) at the 11th Annual Golden Horse Awards on October 30th, 1973. David Chiang did however win a Best Actor Award in 1970 for his lead performance in Chang's VENGEANCE! (1970) at the 16th Annual Asian Film Festival (Chang Cheh won Best Director).

4. Shih Szu is nowhere to be found in Chang Cheh's FIVE SHAOLIN MASTERS (1974); she is, however, in Chang Cheh's super-production SHAOLIN TEMPLE (1976).

5. Neither FURIOUS SLAUGHTER nor ROYAL FIST (both 1972) are Shaw Brothers productions. They're both independently made Kung Fu flicks starring Jimmy Wang Yu and directed by Ting Shan Si. Director Ting did make three disparate films for Shaw's in 1973; those being IMPERIAL TOMB RAIDERS, FLIGHT MAN, and THE WELL OF DOOM (released in 1974).

6. "Wang Yu was actually already on the set...." Jimmy Wang Yu was not asked to do martial arts choreography on LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES. For one thing, the infamously temperamental film star was a water polo champion and not much of a martial artist. For another, he'd abruptly left Shaw's in March of 1970, and was sued by them for breaking his contract. He wasn't allowed to make movies in Hong Kong till his contract was up in January of 1973. Despite two failed injunctions by Shaw's in the interim, Wang Yu made movies for Golden Harvest and independent companies outside of HK till then, and never worked at Shaw's again.

7. This one is baffling if you're familiar with famous bad guy actor, Feng Ko An. He does not play one of the fighting brothers despite being listed in the credits as one of them. Possibly he was originally cast to play the part only to be removed from the picture. Wang Chung, another Chang Cheh alum who had already been in some major roles, is shown in magazine photos of the Hammer-Shaw press conference standing beside David Chiang and the rest of the cast, but he is not in the film, either. This was a common occurrence in Hong Kong cinema; at least with Shaw Brothers movies. For one example, Lo Lieh was originally part of the cast of another Shaw co-production, VIRGINS OF THE 7 SEAS (1974) but was replaced with Yueh Hua. As for Feng Ko An, he was actually an up-and-coming actor with the company playing extras and background thugs till 1974 when his roles in Chang Cheh's movies became more substantial onward. The actor who plays the role of Hsi Sung that Feng is credited to is Lau Chun Fai. Lau worked extensively in the industry, but onscreen, he was predominantly a background player or in minor roles of no substance.


When Warner's backed out of distributing the movie in America after DRACULA AD 1972 bombed, Hammer was left without the vital American deal. The film passed through a few other hands, obtaining a shelf life of four years till a minor outfit run by former Amicus co-founder Max J. Rosenberg picked it up (along with the WB abandoned THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA). Rosenberg's US cut released through his Dynamite Entertainment is anything but a blast. A total re-edit by Rosenberg of the original version, the entire film was inexplicably chopped up and rearranged into an incomprehensible mess. The editing thoroughly destroys the plot and displays as much an aversion to narrative cohesion as a vampire to a crucifix.


For years, GOLDEN VAMPIRES had a lowly reputation among Hammer fans; many of whom would sing the praises of the inferior CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER (1974). That picture had a spirited script and potential for sequels, but had some of the sloppiest, inert action sequences put to film. The main protagonist, a swordsman sworn to combat vampires and other evils, was rendered ineffectual without convincing fights that were vital to the plot. GOLDEN VAMPIRES utilizes the same template; relying on both horror and martial arts, and never fails to deliver on either of them. For whatever reason, some Hammer fans have difficulty tolerating the martial arts sequences--all of which are exceptional, and still impress over 40 years later.

It's not their most Gothic movie of the 1970s, but THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES is certainly one of Hammer's best, most polished productions; even more so due to it being made during a time when they were struggling to get movies made at all. Something of a failed experiment behind the camera, but a successful one in front of it, LEGEND did set a precedent for Anglo pictures with HK-style choreography that would become fashionable in America in the late 1990s. Additionally, LEGEND likewise opened the coffin to a genre style that took off in Hong Kong in a big way six years later.

This review is representative of the Scream Factory bluray. Specs and Extras: New 2K scan from original elements; 1080p HD 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; audio commentary with Bruce Hallenbeck; alternate US theatrical version THE 7 BROTHERS MEET DRACULA (75 minutes); interviews with Ricky Baker and David Chiang; theatrical trailer; TV spot; still gallery; running time: 01:29:02
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