Part-espionage film, part thriller and all horror, The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) brought Hammer veterans Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing together for their last on-screen appearance as the Count and his archrival, Professor Van Helsing. When a secret agent exposes a satanic ring at a remote English manor, Scotland Yard calls upon master occultist and polymath Helsing to use his knowledge of all things that go bump in the night. Helsing, his granddaughter (Joanna Lumley) and a host of investigators infiltrate the cult, whose members include some bloodthirsty vampires and an unstable scientist (Freddie Jones) committed to unleashing a strain of bubonic plague. As the doctor rushes to stop the virus from spreading, he discovers that Count Dracula (Lee), revived from his demise in the previous film (Dracula A.D. 1972), is the mastermind behind the nefarious plan and that Helsing himself is an integral pawn in his game. Lee admitted to reservations when making the film, but despite his own complaints delivers a fun performance in his last appearance as the dagger-toothed bloodsucker. Cushing plays to his co-star’s beats, the two actors taking their legendary characters to celluloid for one final duet. Tired of the role, Lee disappeared like a bat in the night, but Cushing returned to portray the good doctor for the last time in Hammer’s martial arts-horror mash-up The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires in 1974.
By Thomas Davant