It’s time for another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING, the column where we look at some of Peter Cushing’s most memorable lines in the movies.
Today we look at DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972) Hammer Film’s attempt to put Dracula into a modern day setting. Unfortunately for Hammer, “modern day” happened to be 1972. Far out, man!
A decade later and they may have struck gold, but in 1972 DRACULA A.D. 1972 plays out like THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY MEETS DRACULA, as Dracula (Christopher Lee) tangles with a group of 70s teens who are only interested in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. They could care less about vampires. In fact, Dracula seems so out of place and uncomfortable in this setting that he spends his time in this movie hanging out in a desecrated church, as if he’s terrified of venturing forth into 1970s culture.
It’s an awkward mix to be sure, but it’s part of what makes this movie so much fun today.
It wasn’t fun for Hammer back in 1972, because the film was a commercial failure, but I’ve always liked this movie. It’s always been a guilty pleasure. I find it entertaining, and not in spite of the dated 70s characters and dialogue but because of it. It’s all a hoot.
Now, Peter Cushing is on hand, and as always, he adds dignity to the story. Here, he plays the grandson of the original Van Helsing, and it goes without saying, Cushing is excellent in the role. He enjoys some memorable lines, especially in his exchanges with the Inspector (Michael Coles) from Scotland Yard, who has called in Van Helsing to assist with his investigation of some weird “cult” murders.
So let’s look at some of these lines now from DRACULA A.D., 1972, screenplay by Don Houghton.
Troubled by some very weird murders, Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) visits Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), an expert on the occult, and seeks his opinion on the crimes. Cushing’s lines at the end of this exchange provide him with one of his best acting moments in the film. Take a look:
VAN HELSING: Those mutilations, around the neck?
INSPECTOR: Mostly. Does that mean something?
VAN HELSING: It could. It could indicate—.
VAN HELSING: That the killer was trying to obliterate the real cause of death. Vampirism.
INSPECTOR: You’re joking?
VAN HELSING: You dismiss the possibility?
INSPECTOR: I don’t know. I’ve been a policeman too long. I don’t know.
VAN HELSING: My grandfather died fighting a vampire, the most terrible, the most dangerous vampire of all time, but before that, he collected proof, positive proof.
VAN HELSING: Oh no. There is nothing ludicrous about it. He was a scientist. His evidence was conclusive. There is evil in this world. There are dark awful things. Occasionally we get a glimpse of them. But there are dark corners; horrors almost impossible to imagine—even in our worst nightmares. There is a Satan.
INSPECTOR: Of course. Otherwise we wouldn’t need a police force, would we?
Later when it’s discovered that one of the murder victims was a friend of Van Helsing’s granddaughter Jessica (Stephanie Beacham) the Inspector questions her. She takes offense at his probing questions about her friends, and she reacts badly, to which Van Helsing responds:
JESSICA VAN HELSING: I wish somebody would tell me what this is all about.
VAN HELSING: Murder, Jessica. That’s what all this is about. Ghastly, horrible, obscene murder!
It’s a great Cushing moment.
At the end of the film, when Van Helsing finally confronts Dracula (Christopher Lee), he shouts to the vampire:
VAN HELSING: Count Dracula! Look on me, Dracula. Look on me and remember.
At this point, the film provides a flashback to the opening scene of the movie, where we see the original Van Helsing destroy Dracula back in the 19th century, in a scene shot specifically for DRACULA A.D. 1972. It’s a pretty cool scene too, although I’ve always wished that the flashback after this line had taken us back to the original conclusion to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958). Now, that would have been something for Dracula to remember!
Early in the movie, Van Helsing discovers his granddaughter looking through his book on the Black Mass. He’s none too pleased that she’s treating his life’s work like a joke, but the best part of this scene is Stephanie Beacham’s dated dialogue as Jessica Van Helsing:
VAN HELSING: A treatise on the black mass? What do you want with this?
JESSICA: Oh, just a quiet bit of mind blowing.
VAN HELSING: Jessica, this is not a subject to mess around with. These are scientific works.
JESSICA: You can buy that sort of stuff in almost any shady bookshop in Soho. I think it’s all kinky.
VAN HELSING: What’s that?
JESSICA: Weird, man. Way out. I mean, spooks, hobgoblins, black magic. All that sort of stuff.
Gee, Scoobs, pass me some of those Scooby snacks, will you?
We’ll finish here not with a line by Cushing but by Christopher Lee. It’s one of my favorite lines that Lee speaks in the entire Dracula series (and since he cut so many of them, there aren’t a whole lot of Dracula lines in this series!).
His descendant Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) has just performed a human sacrifice to resurrect his master, and he’s quite pleased with himself at this accomplishment. But Dracula is quick to slap him down.
JOHNNY ALUCARD: Master, I did it! I summoned you!
DRACULA: It was my will.
Ouch! Take that, minion!
And that’s it for now. Thanks for joining me for another edition of THE QUOTABLE CUSHING. I’ll see you next time with more quotes from another classic Peter Cushing movie.
Thanks for reading!