Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Directed by Peter Sasdy

Starring Christopher Lee Geoffrey Keen Gwen Watford Linda Hayden Peter Sallis

Direct sequel to "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave," this picks up during the end of that movie, with Dracula impaled on a gold crucifix. A traveling salesman merchant upon the scene. After Dracula dissolves into a mass of blood, the quick-thinking businessman steals his cloak, a gold medallion with the name "Dracula" inscribed on it, and some of the bloodsucker's blood.

Back in England, a trio of old, Christian rich men go out every month in search of kicks mainly to the local brothel. They run across a young devil-worshipper (Ralph Bates), whom they coax into showing them even greater pleasures than they've experienced shagging hookers. He agrees, but only if they'll buy something for use in a ceremony. The four of them show up at an antique dealers' store. It's the salesman who found Dracula's remains. They buy the legendary vampire's belongings, including a vial of his powdered blood. Needless to say, during a satanic ceremony in an abandoned local abbey, Dracula is resurrected, and targets the daughters of the three men who brought him back to life.

"Taste the Blood of Dracula" marked the beginning of the decline of the Hammer Dracula series. Obviously, Christopher Lee wasn't up to playing the role anymore, and Dracula actually doesn't get much screen time. The first third of the film revolves around the trio of old libertines looking for thrills, with Ralph Bates doing a great job as the chief baddie a wealthy young occultist obsessed with resurrecting Dracula. Given the lack of Lee screen time, "Taste" is actually a pretty damn good Hammer film, with a strong story, the usual stock of excellent actors (including Linda Hayden, who would turn up in "Blood on Satan's Claw" the same year), great costumes, etc. The first three films in the series were much better, mainly because they were set around Dracula's castle. It's awkward to see Dracula in a small English community, essentially engaging in a revenge mission. But "Taste" is a solid movie. European cuts of the film apparently feature nudity that didn't make the American cut.

It would be followed by the inferior "Scars of Dracula," last in the series before the setting would move to the 1970s and the series would devolve into pure camp.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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