Scream Factory revives another classic from the Hammer Horror vaults, this time a collaboration with Shaw Brothers
The title: The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. The tag line: Black Belt vs. Black Magic. If you’re not already sold, then I pity you. If you must have a little more info, then this release sees Scream Factory continuing their noble work in bringing classics from the Hammer archives to stateside home video. The British film studio, famed for their vampiric tales, teams up with the legendary Shaw Brothers, throwing blood suckers up against the power of Kung Fu!
Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and Count Dracula (John Forbes-Robinson) meet again in this spectacular kung fu horror thriller set in the village of Ping Kuei. After learning about the seven golden vampires of the village, Hsi Ching (David Chiang), Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege) and Mai Kwei (Szu Shih) offer to guide Van Helsing and his son to Ping Kuei to free it from the curse of Count Dracula.
Throughout their journey, the group encounters several unwanted attackers until they arrive at the golden vampires’ derelict temple, inhabited by Count Dracula. In the temple, Van Helsing and the count begin a fearsome battle to the death — an ultimate clash between good and evil!
As you’d expect from bringing two disparate studios together, there’s a little finagling and coincidence needed to bring these worlds together. Kah, an Asian monk, is the the keeper of the Temple of the Seven Golden Vampires. The creatures within are losing their power, prompting Kah to travel to Transylvania and beseech Dracula to come restore them to their former glory. If you wouldn’t believe it, the dark lord’s nemesis Professor Van Helsing (the legendary Peter Cushing) is already in China lecturing on all things fangy, when a local, Hsi Ching (David Chiang), shares with the vampire hunter the legend of the Seven Golden Vampires and how they have long been the scourge of his village. Sensing their revival, he is looking to put together a team to finish them off once and for all (Spaghetti Western vibes ahoy). A band of brothers, a widow, and a esteemed British vampire hunter sally forth, unaware that in addition to this new enemy, they’re going up against one they’re very familiar with indeed. The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires is also known in various territories as 7 Brothers Versus Dracula, 7 Brothers and their One Sister Meet Dracula, and Dracula and the 7 Golden Vampires. Whatever you want to call it, the resulting film is one that draws from the brooding vampiric legacy of Hammer boosted by the fun and adrenaline you associate with Shaw Brothers.
The two studios, synonymous with their respective genres, throw their talents together with fangtastic results. Hammer’s horror lore was unparalleled at this time, with further prestige added by the presence of Cushing (sadly no Christopher Lee, as he was off being adored with a third nipple during filming), while the Shaw Brothers brought their own particular brand of kung fu fighting. Each play to their strengths and play off the other to revitalize both genres in a saturated era and to hit markets previously untapped. The blend never feels like a gimmick, each doing what they do best: East meets West as action and scenery destroying combine with genteel manners and scenery chewing.
For those who find the Hammer series a little stuffy, this hybrid blows much of that away, while the added atmosphere and horror provide an enticing backdrop to some exuberant action. It’s also refreshing to see the aesthetics move away from some gloomy Gothic castle to something more Eastern in style. The collaborative approach even extended behind the camera, with director Roy Ward Baker (Quatermass and the Pit, Scars of Dracula) taking the helm, but Chang Cheh (One Armed Swordsman, Five Deadly Venoms) handling the fight sequences. While it’s evident where budget and creative shortcomings hampered the production, there is charm and entertainment to spare, along with the obvious prestige and polish brought by both Hammer and Shaw Brothers.
The Blu-ray brings a new 2K scan and restoration of the film, and it looks great. Great detail, vibrant colors, with a natural grain preserved. Blacks are generally good; there is some minor damage and variance in quality throughout, likely from the source footage, but nothing to detract from the overall presentation. Extra material is also impressive:
- NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck: Author of the book Hammer Vampires, so as you’d expect, his credentials and insights are pretty great, especially in terms of fitting into the legacy of both Hammer and Shaw Brothers, and also how Warner got involved in the film development too.
- NEW When Hammer Met Shaw — An Interview With Actor David Chiang: A nice addition that offers some personal reflection on the influence and approach of Peter Cushing from Chiang’s time with him.
- NEW Kung Fear — An Interview With Hong Kong Film Expert Rick Baker: No, not that Rick Baker, another one. Personal reflections on the film’s original release as a young fan, juxtaposed with his detailed knowledge as a ‘expert’.
- Alternate U.S. Theatrical Version — The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula (In HD With Some Standard Definition Inserts): Yep, an entirely different cut of the film is also included, the version originally released in the US.
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spot
- Still Gallery: Posters, promo images, behind the scenes shots.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re a fan of horror or martial arts, you’ll be satiated by The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, but that the two worlds collide so well will only enhance your appreciation. It’s a legendary collaboration between legendary studios Hammer and Shaw Brothers, where stiff upper lip meets stiff upper kick with spectacular results. A brilliant release from Scream Factory, with a fine restoration, backed up by plenty of extra features.
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is available via Shout! Factory from April 9th, 2019.