Directed by Roy Ward Baker, this 1974 film is a fusion of vampire horror and kung fu capers designed to take advantage of (then) current trends and was a co-production between Hammer and Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studios.
The story begins in 1804 with Chinese warlord Kah (Shen Chan) awakening Dracula (John Forbes-Robertson) in his Romanian castle.
Kah is a “priest” for the “7 Golden Vampires of China” and wants Dracula to resurrect them to instil some good old-fashioned fear in the population again. Dracula thanks him for this most interesting suggestion and then promptly kills him and assumes his identity before heading for China.
We then flash forward to 1904. Professor Lawrence Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is in China with his foppish son Leyland (Robin Stewart) lecturing on philosophy, parapsychology and, of course, vampires.
Legend has it there is a village riddled with the blood-sucking scamps according to Van Helsing. After the lecture, he is approached by young Hsi Ching (David Chiang) who tells him the legend is real and asks him to lead an expedition to this dreaded village to destroy the vampires.
Chiang’s six brothers and one sister are all martial arts experts and he assures Van Helsing they will protect him. Van Helsing is concerned this will all cost a lot of money but luckily Scandinavian Bo Derek lookalike and adventuress Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege) just happens to be on hand to provide the funding.
So Professor Van Helsing, Leyland, Vanessa and the karate-chopping siblings set off on their perilous quest where Dracula – now disguised as a Chinese warlord lest we forget – awaits with the Golden vampires and an army of the undead.
Although the make-up is a bit variable, there are some nice moments of these ghouls rising from the grave in battle armour and plenty of action when they do battle with the Van Helsing expedition.
The general reputation of the film was not helped by an idiot cutting it to pieces and calling it The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula in the United States, but this original version is undemanding and enjoyably cheesy and possibly the most eccentric film Hammer ever made (which is saying something).
Professor Lawrence Van Helsing
Wong Han Chan
Leyland Van Helsing
David de Keyser
Chia Yung Liu
Fong Kah Ann
Tien Lung Chen
Roy Ward Baker