Everybody was kung-fu biting

Film | Head Chef | June 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Here’s something a little different to celebrate Peter Cushing’s birthday back in May. It’s the album version of the Hammer/Shaw Brothers co-production ‘Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires’ and has Cushing narrating the story along with music and sound effects from the film. This was the British studios attempt to wring the last drops of blood out of their vampire films and cash in on the early seventies kung-fu craze. They teamed up with The Shaw Brothers, the largest production company in China, and out popped this little beauty. Directed by Roy Ward Baker and Chang Cheh, a veteran Hong Kong action director, though only Baker is credited, the film is all kinds of chop socky awesome.

The film starts with a strangely camp Dracula possessing the body of an evil Chinese monk, before leaping forward a 100 years to a Chinese university where Van Helsing (Cushing) is giving a lecture on vampires. He’s asked to help out a village besieged by the rotting, and frankly randy, golden vampires and all hell breaks loose. Helsing soon gets to the bottom of things and figures out that his old nemesis (now partial to a touch of lipstick) is behind it all. How Van Helsing ever met Dracula in the first place if he’d been possessing a Chinese monk for a hundred years is never explained.

The film throws up an orgy of undead armies, kung-fu chops, nudity, gory sword fights and vampires that are destroyed by the image of Buddha not a crucifix. I’ll admit it’s as cheesy as they get, but it’s a finely crafted chunk of Brie amongst  the stuff Hammer usually churned out and well worth a viewing. Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires was also Hammer’s last vampire film, unless you count last year’s ‘Beyond The Rave’ by a company that bought the Hammer name and released the film in episodes on MySpace, and Cushing’s final flick for the studio.

At forty five minutes, this week’s offering is quite a long one, but it does show what a great actor Peter Cushing was, much better than some of the films he turned up in. So, it’s a belated happy birthday to Mr Cushing and interestingly, his birthday was on the 26th of May and the 27th of May is Vincent Price’s and Christopher Lee’s joint birthday. Spooky….

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Update: I’ve just searched twitter to see if anyone else has posted anything about this film and it seems the twitterverse is awash with news of the, I suppose inevitable, re-make.

Head Chef.

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Tags: , peter cushing, shaw brothers,
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