The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) – review

Carl Douglas claimed that “everybody was Kung Fu fighting” in his funky hit from 1974, but little did he know that during the very same year, everybody was, in fact, doing exactly that in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, currently available on Blu-ray from Signal One Entertainment.

Produced by Hammer Films and Shaw Brothers Studio, this horror and martial arts cross-over takes us from a gloomy castle in Transylvania to the Far East, where Professor Lawrence Van Helsing is helping eight sibling warriors liberate their mountain village from Van Helsing’s old foe, Count Dracula himself, who has amassed an undead army by aid of an ancient Chinese legend.

Suspension of disbelief has always been easy with Hammer, but the film’s opening, set in Transylvania, is clearly mainland China. A poorly composited matte painting of a distant castle looms in the background of our prologue, inside of which we meet not Christopher Lee, but a generic middle-aged Englishman with too much make-up playing Count Dracula. The film starts to take shape when we’re then introduced to Van Helsing lecturing at Chungking University about local vampire legends. As our band of heroes unite and take off on a journey into the Chinese countryside, an exciting adventure develops packed with a well-choreographed display of the Shaw Brothers’ action.

Even though The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a co-production by two very prominent studios, there’s a noticeable lack of budget behind the project, not to mention a rather clumsy script. On a positive note, there’s a great deal of energy and enthusiasm from those behind and in front of the camera, that easily immerses the viewer once the journey begins, helping to drive this 80-minute adventure. I’ve long believed that horror movies should not exceed 90 minutes and thankfully Hammer has always made a strong case.

As for the advertised marriage of horror and martial arts, the film doesn’t disappoint, and things get surprisingly bloody during the chaotic action sequences and skirmishes our convoy of heroes partake in. The plot isn’t all that complex, to be honest. Viewers are treated to a traditional fight between good and evil, where most members of the two groups are proficient in kung fu. The film’s titular “7 Golden Vampires” are all given the same ghastly appearance: papier mâché masks with fangs that look almost drawn on, but when they turn to dust, following a strike to the heart, we’re treated to some fun practical effects, the likes that have inspired movies like The Evil Dead. With time, it’s easy for many of us to thumb our nose at dated techniques, but if you allow yourself to embrace them, your enjoyment of classic cinema will increase.


  • Still Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer


Signal One certainly hasn’t failed this unique title with an excellent 1080p presentation in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which highlights Hammer’s distinctive visual style and vibrant colour palette. However, the Mono 1.0 PCM track, while very clear, does lack a little volume. In a way, the limited scope of audio complements the unrealistic sound effects of all the hand-to-hand combat synonymous with 70s Hong Kong cinema. Subtitles are included.

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is below Hammer’s standard, but it’s still very entertaining and Peter Cushing always manages to bring dignity to every project. It’s a welcome addition to my Hammer collection and the wait has been worth it.

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is available to purchase online at Signal One Entertainment, but unfortunately, the Hammer Horror classic is not part of the current sale, which ends on January 20th.

(1974, director: Roy Ward Baker)



direct blu-ray screen captures



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