Rites of Dracula
©1974 Hammer Films Productions


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Genre: Horror

Rating: R

Also known as:
Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride
Dracula Is Alive and Well and Living in London
Dracula Is Dead... and Well and Living in London
Satanic Rites of Dracula, The

Follows: Dracula A.D. 1972

Synopsis:
A British federal agent (Maurice O'Connell) is captured while infiltrating a satanic cult but manages to escape at the cost of his life. Luckily, he has taken pictures of the five men leading the cult. His superior, Colonel Mathews (Richard Vernon), and Agent Torrence (William Franklyn) develop the pictures and find that four of the pictures show an army general (Lockwood West), a government official (Richard Mathews), a powerful landowner (Patrick Barr) and a Nobel Prize winning professor named Keeley (Freddie Jones). The fifth picture shows nothing but an empty doorway. Because the government official is in charge of their department, Colonel Mathews calls in Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) of Scotland Yard. When Inspector Murray hears about the cult, he and Torrence turn to occult expert Prof. Larimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) for help. Larimer goes to visit Prof. Keeley but finds out that his old friend has had a mental breakdown and created a more virulent strain of Bubonic Plague. Unfortunately, Larimer is shot by one of the cult's henchmen and when he awakes, Keeley is dead and the plague samples are gone. Meanwhile, Murray and Torrence go to check out the cult, taking Larimer's granddaughter Jessica (Joanna Lumley) with them. While Murray and Torrence go through the front door, Jessica sneaks in the back and but is attacked by a horde of female vampire's including Torrence's assistant Jane (Valerie Van Ost). The three barely escape with their lives and regroup with Larimer to discuss their findings. Putting the facts together, they surmise that Dracula (Christopher Lee) is the fifth leader of the cult, posing as D. D. Denham, the businessman who funded Keeley's research. They believe Dracula plans to release the plague to wipe out all life on earth and end his eternal torment. Unfortunately, while staking out the cult's headquarters, Torrence is killed and Inspector Murray and Jessica are captured. Unaware of this, Larimer goes to confront Denham/Dracula but is captured too. Inspector Murray is able to escape, destroying Dracula's brides along the way, and locates Jessica but he is unable to wake her. Moments later, Dracula arrives with Larimer and the other cult leaders. Dracula announces his intent to make Jessica his eternal consort but, first, he makes one of the cult leaders crush a vial of the plague causing him to die horribly. Moments later, Murray starts a while struggling with a henchman. While Murray carries Jessica to safety, Dracula chases Larimer. Fortunately, Larimer escapes through a grove of Hawthorne bushes that tear Dracula to pieces because Jesus crown of thorns was made from the Hawthorne bush. Larimer finishes Dracula off with a wooden stake.

Type of mind control: Vampiric stare

Mind control scenes:
The first mind control scene comes well into the movie when Jane mesmerizes Jessica in an attempt to bite her. The last two mind control scenes come at the very end. First, Dracula stares at Larimer and causes him to back down when he confronts Dracula. Second, Dracula makes one of the cult leaders crush a vial of Bubonic Plague in his bare hand. We can also assume that Dracula has mesmerized the sleeping Jessica but we don't get to see it.

Subjective Rating: 3 out of 5
This movie has very little mind control and it seems to have been added as an afterthought. The scene where Jane mesmerizes Jessica would have worked just as well without the mind control and better if Jane had waited until Jessica unchained her before trying to bite her. I guess becoming a vampire makes you stupid. The next mind control scene where Dracula makes Larimer back down was completely pointless. Only the scene where Dracula makes the cult leader crush the vial of plague fit well but it was too little too late. Of all the Hammer Horror Films, this was the most disappointing.

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