• The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Scream Factory) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots



    Studio: Scream Factory

    Release Date: July 11th, 1974 (theatrical) / April 9th, 2019 (blu-ray)

    Run Time: 82 mins (original version) / 74 mins (U.S. theatrical)

    Region Code: A (locked)

    Picture: 1080p (2.35:1 aspect ratio)

    Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

    Subtitles: Yes

    Slipcover: No

    Digital Copy: No

    Starring: Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Robin Stewart, and John Forbes-Robertson

    Written by Don Houghton

    Directed by Roy Ward Baker

    Rating: R (violence, bloody images, and nudity)


    THE FILM ⭐⭐1/2

    In 1804, in Transylvania, a Chinese walker heads to the castle of Dracula. He awakes Dracula from his tomb and explains that he is Kah, the High Priest of the Seven Golden Vampires in China that are powerless. He needs Dracula to restore their power and the vampire takes Kah's body and image. One hundred years later, Professor Laurence Van Helsing gives a lecture at a Chinese university about the legend of the Seven Golden Vampires but the students leave the auditorium finding that the all the exposition is superstition. However the student Hsi Ching meets Van Helsing at home and tells that the legend is true and he knows the location of the vampires. Van Helsing accepts to travel to the village in the countryside to help to destroy the vampires and the wealthy widow Mrs. Vanessa Buren, who has befriended his son Leyland Van Helsing, offers to sponsor the expedition provided she may go with them. Soon they embark with seven siblings skilled in kung-fu in a dangerous expedition to destroy the Golden Vampires and Dracula.

    This is a film that has a very high reputation. When I got into martial arts films during the 90’s, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires was a film that you needed to see. I never saw it because it was never really available here in the States. I could have imported it but I did not become region free until this decade so that was really out of the question.

    Needless to I got really excited when it was announced that Scream Factory was releasing the film on blu-ray. I really wanted to see this film.

    Then I saw it.

    The film isn’t bad by any means. It is lackluster. This should have been a slam dunk. Hammer, from the U.K., and the Shaw Brothers, out of Hong Kong. Two companies that had become legendary by the time this film would come around. There was no way this film could be bad. And it isn’t. It is lackluster. You really have to look at where these two companies were at when this film went into production. Hammer had just had two decades of classics, but they were coming to an end. Hammer would only make one more film after The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and then go dormant for more than 30 years.


    Shaw Brothers, on the other hand, was thriving. They were making some truly great films and discovering some truly great talent. Of course, Bruce Lee had just died, and while Shaw Brothers did not have any Bruce Lee films, they did find themselves trying to find the next Bruce Lee like every other Hong Kong film studio. Of course, they didn’t need to because they were doing just fine, but mob rules.

    The fact that The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires exists is rather amazing. While there are countless martial arts films that contain horror elements (check out Encounters of the Spooky Kind or the Mr. Vampire series to see what these films should really look like.) Combining Hammer’s style of horror and Shaw Brothers’ style of martial arts seems like it should work, but the film wants to be more horror than martial arts. The fight scenes, which were supposedly directed (uncredited of course) by the legendary Chang Cheh, are not very good. Cheh was working with many of the same actors and stuntmen he has always worked with, but he was also working with many British actors he had never met before. This, combined with the fact that just because he shot doesn’t mean it was edited the way he wanted, leaves the fight scenes sluggish and boring. Adding in Peter Cushing yelling out orders that everyone in the film would already know doesn’t help.

    The Hammer stuff doesn’t even work all that either. Sure, it is always nice to have Peter Cushing in a film, especially when he is playing a Van Helsing, but the surrounding cast just isn’t very good. Actually, David Chiang is very good and he isn’t even speaking in his native tongue. Everyone else seems to be going through the motions.


    So what is there to like? Peter Cushing and David Chiang for starters. The film also has a charm to it. You don’t really get to see too many of these films being made so there is that as well. I also liked how sleazy the film is. There is a lot of nudity here and that is always a plus, but the level of sleaze is surprising.

    All in all, I didn’t like the film as much I was hoping, but I didn’t hate it either. The film rests right in the middle for me. Had the fight scenes been better or the film made scarier, I think I would have liked it more. As it stands it is right there on the line between good and bad.


    THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐1/2 / ⭐⭐⭐

    Featuring a brand new 2K scan of “original film elements” and presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires looks pretty good. Film grain looks to be intact, but it doesn’t lead to the detail that one would expect it to. What we get is surface level detail, but not too much finer detail. There some here and there, but that was just how these films were shot. Skin tones look good and blacks are pretty inky. There is some standard definition footage used, mostly for the town raid, and it does stand out, but that was the only way this footage exists so take it or leave it.

    The DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds just like how you would expect it to sound. Dialogue is clear and the sound effects sound just right.

    There are English subs here as well.

    THE PACKAGING ⭐⭐⭐1/2


    The default cover features the film’s original theatrical poster, for everywhere except for the U.S. that is.


    The reverse cover features the U.S. theatrical poster with the title The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula.


    The disc art features the main character from the default artwork, isolated with a yellow background. The disc is REGION A (locked).


    THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐

    Commentary with film historian Bruce G. Hollenbeck


    Alternate U.S. Theatrical Release: The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula (1h 14m, HD) This version of the film is just awful. Scenes are reorganized or deleted outright and the whole film doesn’t make any sense. This makes for a very good case on why foreign films should not be re-edited. There is no reason this film should be this bad. A lot of the footage used here is from a standard definition transfer. There is some of the 2K footage used, but so much of it is from an SD print.


    Kung Fear (19m 39s, HD) This is an interview with Rick Baker, who talks about his experience with the film over the years and the changes made to the U.S. version of the film.


    Interview with David Chiang (misspelled as Chaing) (6m 38s, HD) Chiang talks about the differences between how British films and Hong Kong films were made. He also talks about how Peter Cushing took time out of his day to go over the script with Chiang, who didn’t really speak too much English, line by line, scene by scene until Chiang knew the script frontwards and backward. He considers this time with Cushing one of the greatest things ever. He still uses the techniques Cushing taught him to this day. He ends by talking about how he was offered a contract by Hammer but had to say no because he was under contract by Shaw Brothers.

    TV Spot (31s, SD, 1.66:1, 4x3)

    The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula Trailer (2m 36s, HD)

    The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Trailer (2m 54s, HD, 1.85:1, 4x3)

    Still Gallery (6m 26s, HD)


    OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐

    The hype that The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires had did not meet what the film gave. That being said, the film can be fun at times, and it is always good to see Peter Cushing in a Van Helsing role. I wish that the fight scenes were better, but you get what you can get sometimes. Scream Factory really did a great job with this blu-ray and I would recommend it to Shaw Brothers, Hammer Horror, and martial arts fans alike.



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