An undercover Secret Service agent is held captive at a large English manor house.  Before he dies, he manages to escape with film of five important figures who took part in a Satanic mass.  Four of the pictures showed men who had high level positions in the government.  The fifth picture was of a blank doorway.  The agent had been investigating a secret cult being run by Chin Yang (Barbara Yu Ling). 

Not knowing how far up the corruption goes, Secret Service official Colonel Mathews (Richard Vernon) calls on Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) to investigate further.  Murray suggests that they bring in Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), an expert in the occult, to help them.  Van Helsing brings in his granddaughter, Jessica (Joanna Lumley).

Van Helsing recognizes one of the men in the photos as Professor Julian Keeley (Freddie Jones) as an expert in biochemistry.  Van Helsing visits Keeley and finds him in an agitated state.  He learns that the chemist has been working on a virulent form of plague.  One of the cult’s minions shows up and shoots Van Helsing.  The cult expert is only grazed and knocked unconscious.  When he awakens the plague containers are gone and Keeley is dead.     

Van Helsing finds out that the cult is being led by his nemesis, Dracula (Christopher Lee).  He also learns that Dracula plans on destroying the world by using the prominent men in the cult to spread the plague, thus destroying everyone on Earth.  Van Helsing surmises that Dracula is initiating a form of suicide by destroying people and the blood he needs to survive.    

“Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride” AKA “Satanic Rites of Dracula” was released in 1973 and was directed by Alan Gibson.  It is a British horror film with touches of science fiction and spy thriller.  The film is a vampire movie and was produced by Hammer Film Productions.  It is the eighth film in Hammer’s Dracula series.  Released in Britain as “Satanic Rites of Dracula” in 1973, the film was released in the United States as “Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride” in 1979.  It is supposed to be a sequel to “Dracula AD 1972” 1972.

I’m not sure why the title was changed for the American release unless it sounded sexier.  There really isn’t any bride to speak of.  There are vampire women chained in the basement and Dracula wants to change Van Helsing’s granddaughter into a vampire but none of them really qualify as a bride.

It’s not as interesting as some of the earlier Hammer Dracula films.  The plot is a little off.  There are threads of the story and plot elements that don’t really go anywhere.  I also don’t know why Dracula needs a plague to wipe out humanity unless he’s a scorched Earth type of vampire.  Since the story takes place in 1974 the plot is more modernized than some of the earlier films.  Although Dracula retains some of his gothic trappings, he does so in a modern building with computers.  It’s not clear what the computers do but there’s a whole room full of them so they must be important.   

This would be the last Hammer film that both Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing would do together.

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