Vampire Circus/Countess Dracula and Dracula AD 1972/Crescendo: Dueling Hammer Double Features on the US Cinema Battlefield
This Halloween, I am going to seriously focus on two Hammer double bills I have not featured ever since the start of this Blog – time to correct that right away! In 1972, 20’th Century Fox’s Hammer Studios double bill of Countess Dracula and Vampire Circus was at war with Warner Brothers’ release of Dracula AD 1972, with Fox’s show seriously showing value for money and the Swinging Satanic update of Dracula’s adventures promoted with a classy invitation for the audience to join the “Count Dracula Society” paired with 1970’s Crescendo. Times were getting tough for the Hammer style in a time of Mark of the Devil and Last House on the Left, and sadly the majors they dealt with doubled them up instead of treating them as stand-alone films that entertained, but there was still room in the Early 70’s for their movies which entertained the few and devoted who caught them in grand cinemas that still played Exploitation and Horror, the theaters in strip malls trying to bring people in, the small “Super Cinemas” that were no longer super in an era of bigger chains, and even the Drive Ins where the couples that saw them had something extra to bite into in their cars (and not the food!).
Sadly, Stateside fans did not get to see the full version until recent video releases. Three Minutes of the R-Rated stuff was snipped for the PG rating, making it easier for it to play alongside Countess Dracula.
11-8-72. Philadelphia – Before the Motor City and LA got the film, Dracula AD 1972 was already touring through The US with some bemused audience members joining in the fun (complete with lapel pin!). It’s co-feature was not reviewed well, maybe even seen as lacking in an excitement that Dracula AD 1972 had a little of, and wound up to be one of Hammer’s forgotten films, but today it has a very small following. Another more Dramatic Hammer film in Demons of the Mind, which had a worse fate in being lumped with a lesser Distributor and not being played much.
11-4-72, Kansas City – Dracula AD 1972 and Crescendo had a few plays including this one. A great film joined them.
Hammer’s movies also had great soundtracks that fitted the movies perfectly. The second clip was by the Expererimental artist David Vorhaus, working as White Noise, and used in Dracula AD 1972.
Kansas City, 3-13-72 – At the same theaters as the previous show, too! A second run show, but at least is played the area.
11-3-72, Des Moines – The city had a War of the Hammers! Over in a Drive In, this was happening…
12-8-72 – I’m very sure that the 53 DI and the Kholberg DIs were playing this among others.
12-6-72, Detroit – With the Fox hosting Boris Karloff in Cauldron of Blood, the Plaza got the Downtown show for AD 1972. It helped that a number of DIs got the show at the same time, too!
This DI listing also showed another kind of competition – the Sexy Swedish film, this time at the Blue Sky which must have had a small number of complaints about that “Children Free!” at the top and “No One Under 18…” bit at the bottom. It seems that Warner Brothers packaged Dracula Prince of Darkness to some showings.
12-3-72, Phoenix – I wonder if the Count Dracula Society hype was not in this showing. Either way, it’s nice to see an alternative campaign around. You never know if the budget for the promotion was no longer around.
12-15-72, El Paso – The New World of Exploitation competition was already ganging up on almost every genre.
12-22-72, Chicago area. Ingrid Pitt has one of her most memorable appearances ever in this Gothic classic.
2-23-73, Ottawa – A very knowing ad that calls this double Adult Entertainment. Maybe the Canadian version was complete or near that.
2-16-73, A Drive In appearance in the St. Louis area. Another way to keep the Dis open in the Winter was to program the Horror films, and at least the Fox double feature was with Dracula, Prince of Darkness to invite customers to brave the cold (or the heaters in the cars!) for a longer time.
Phoenix, 3-4-73 – Now HERE’s how to keep them in…four movies!
3-17-73, Kansas City – A bit of a late appearance, but at least it still played there at the same theaters as the Dracula AD 1972/Crescendo show!
Clovis, NM, 5-17-73 – The Yucca DI was a good place to catch some great movies in the area.
12-1-73, Camden, NJ – Maybe showings like this gave off the hint to Hammer to bring in the “Shaft” style Hi-Hats to the theme music of The Satanic Rites of Dracula. The studio might have been drinking the blood a little too much, but they knew why there was a regular budget. Sadly, a planned US release was dismissed until Dynamite Entertainment picked up Satanic Rites and re-titled it Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride which was small hit at the Drive Ins and Downtown theaters.
Maybe showings like this also brought upon the idea of working with the Shaw Bothers…you never know! Just guessing, but…
By the Late 70’s, most of these films were making their way to TV, Vampire Circus by 1977 and Dracula AD 1972 being changed to Dracula Today
~ by screen13 on November 1, 2016.