Taste the Blood of Dracula
The young man and maid are suppressed, an unholy alliance of business magnate and shopkeeper and aristocrat sees that Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (dir. Freddie Francis).
A magnificent expression of its theme, worked out in a very brilliant analysis.
Criticism has stopped short of this at several points, Variety sizes it up as “the old routine of Dracula”, Time Out Film Guide says it “never quite lives up to its brilliantly staged opening scenes”, thus Halliwell, “initially lively but mainly dreary.”
Hands of the Ripper
The primal scene as the root of juvenile hostility is the source of the drama, which is dressed around Jack the Ripper’s daughter.
A typical Hammer masterpiece on a rare theme difficult of attainment, yet it falls into the lap with perfect ease.
Unfortunately, the New York Times didn’t understand a word of it, and many’s the writer thrown off by the apparatus, a period picture in which the name of Freud is mentioned.
The main effort can be described as bringing Camus’ The Plague (dir. Luis Puenzo) to bear upon Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (dir. George Schaefer, Satyajit Ray et al.) by way of Cacoyannis’ The Day the Fish Came Out and Losey’s These Are the Damned.
The point is clarified as a sunken oil tanker off the Isle of Balfe, some “mildly radioactive waste” and a failed attempt at industrial growth hormone, reducing the islanders to a cavemanlike state.
Cf. Huston’s The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean for the island “in ruins”.
TV Guide could not quite follow it but nevertheless concluded, “pretty standard thriller material based on a BBC television show.” Geoff Andrew (Time Out), “predictably, the serious intentions of the original series have been forsaken on the big screen for a half-baked horror thriller.” Britmovie, “the producers unsuccessfully attempt to bond worthy environmental drama with far-fetched horror.” Leaving only Halliwell’s Film Guide to weigh in, “an unsatisfactory horror film is drawn from a moderately serious TV series about ecology.”
The Stone Tape
The magic box is replaced by the electronic washing machine in Nigel Kneale’s teleplay, masterfully directed by Sasdy.
The lesser product is a labor-saver because it sorts colors automatically with a dyer’s hand.
The recording angel expires on a ladder that just doesn’t reach, and so too does the pretty computer programmer who realizes this.
The peculiar nightmare quality of Kneale’s writing is an absolute function of his fidelity to nature, the rest looks after itself, as it were.
For his part, Sasdy registers the tone of Nyby’s The Thing in a joking retinue of technicians and engineers analyzing the ghost in a dark room for the BBC.
Welcome to Blood City
A computer game played upon unconscious minds in a university laboratory under government auspices after a bomb attack on the East Coast.
The setting is a Wild West town with curious laws and hierarchies, killing is profitable, twenty kills in “fair fights” render one “immortal”, with a legal right not to be killed. There’s a sheriff (Jack Palance) and a madam (Samantha Eggar), new arrivals are slaves, killing makes one a citizen, on to shopkeeper or bodyguard, etc.
The lab operators take a hand, the object is to find a “killmaster” (Keir Dullea) for the social wars.
Critics could not understand this as science-fiction or a Western, therefore Variety said it was not “generically satisfying”.
“Facile and deeply offensive” (Time Out Film Guide).