Friday, July 4, 2014
Shaw Brothers wanted to rule the world in 1974, and stage one in their plan for global domination was to team up with Hammer Studios, England’s House of Horror, and make a kung-fu vampire movie. Starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing the vampire hunter, and Shaw Brothers icon David Chiang as his Chinese counterpart, this Saturday matinee horror hybrid was co-directed by Chang Cheh (uncredited; The One-Armed Swordsman) and Roy Ward Baker (Quatermass and the Pit). The story is basic: Dracula is sucking the blood of virgins and turning large chunks of the Chinese countryside into devastated, nightmarish wastelands. Cushing and Chiang team up and head into the heart of darkness to kick Dracula to death. That’s it. But it’s the way the story is told that stands out. Hammer turns its gothic gaze to China, and gives us a cobwebbed creep-scape of deserted villages, abandoned cemeteries, and shadowy shrines where golden-masked vampires flit through the night, feasting on a terrified populace in this gloomy, moody, surreal nightmare of endless undead cannibalism. Part of Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.