Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

The Satanic Rites of Dracula


Summary and commentary below by Cory Hanaway (2006).

Notes: 87 minutes.
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Coles, William Franklyn, Joanna Lumley.
Directed: Alan Gibson

Summary: Scotland Yard is making a secret investigation into a cult that has several of the key figures in the government, economy, and medical industry in it. During this investigation they call upon the services of Doctor Van Helsing to assist them in their investigation. Over the course of the investigation they learn that Dracula has been brought back to life by one of his disciples and that he means to unleash a new strain of the plague that kills within minutes. In the effort to stop this new black death from being introduced into the general public Van Helsing, Inspector Murray, and Van Helsing’s granddaughter Jessica are all captured by Dracula’s cult. While Murray saves Jessica and lights the house on fire Van Helsing chases Dracula into the woods for a final showdown.

Dracula has his classic powers and weaknesses he is vulnerable to crosses, garlic, silver, sunlight, and a staking to the heart. He also has his advantages to go with his weaknesses. He can’t be photographed; he has superhuman strength, several lesser vampires, who are all female, and humans to do his bidding. He also has the typical seduction before the biting of a victim, and a limited power over the minds of mortals that he uses only once.

This movie is shot from the perspective of Van Helsing and his comrades, as such Dracula gets very little screen time and most of the vampire footage is of the women that he has turned into a vampire and keeps locked up in the basement of the house. The bulk of the film is in daylight and the conflict that takes place is with Dracula’s thugs, not vampires. In fact, the only vampire in this film who successfully kills anyone is Dracula himself. Those that Dracula does kill are brought to him by his thugs and are not trapped by him. Murray is attacked by the chained female vampires twice and manages to escape unharmed both times. Murray then turns on the sprinkler system and kills all of the vampires in the room with the clear pure water.

The ultimate disappointment in this movie came when Dracula was trying to get to Van Helsing in the woods and trips while tangled in a thorny bush. Van Helsing dispatches him with a piece of a white picket fence. This film’s ending was the last nail in the coffin for any kind of good rating on it. Having Dracula who masterminded a plan to wipe out humanity, turned the most powerful people in England into his pawns, and was a hairs width from getting away with it, fall down and be staked without a fight is an unacceptable ending for this movie.

Vampire Films