The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

November 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm (7 Heads, Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires – 1974 – England/Hong Kong

Co-produced by England’s Hammer Film Productions (The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy) and Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studio (The One-Armed Swordsman, 5 Fingers of Death, Five Deadly Venoms), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is, according to its poster, “The first kung fu horror spectacular!”. Combining “HAMMER HORROR!” and “DRAGON THRILLS!”, 7 Golden Vampires is exactly what you would imagine. Peter Cushing stars with a cast of Hong Kong actors.

Dracula possesses an evil Chinese monk. Moving to China, he joins a sect of deformed lizard-like sword-wielding vampires. With their golden masks, golden swords, and golden bat medallions, they command an army of jianshi (hopping zombies) to kidnap women. While lecturing in China, Van Helsing meets seven martial artist brothers and their sister. They convince Van Helsing to journey to their mountain village to help defeat the Golden Vampires. En route, the brothers engage gangsters and zombies before eventually confronting the Golden Vampires and Dracula himself.

Mostly, 7 Golden Vampires is about massive martial arts melees as the brothers wield cool weapons to decimate hordes of opponents. Although they frequently supplant the plot, the battles are exciting. The acrobatic choreography is impressive and vast quantities of extras create chaotic magnitude. The climactic fight around a wall of fire is notable.

7 Golden Vampires’ focus on combat instead of horror might stem from differences in eastern and western vampire legends. Dracula is charming and cunning, whereas the Golden Vampires are bestial, relying on strength, savagery, and their undead army. The distinctions are interesting and numerous, but the English screenwriter probably took some liberties. I doubt Chinese vampires change into bats, sacrifice virgins, or explode before icons of Buddha.

While Shaw Brothers’ action overpowers Hammer’s horror, 7 Golden Vampires is enjoyable. China’s colorful mythology is a nice change of pace from Europe’s gothic ambiance. It is a shame 7 Golden Vampires did not inspire a series of films with Hammer’s monsters in far flung locales. Frankenstein in Persia would be cool.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Hammer horror is guaranteed 6 heads, plus a bonus head for Peter Cushing.

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