The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires has its flaws, but it also has it moments and is, overall, an enjoyable flick. We open where any good vampire movie should open: "Transylvania 1804." A Chinese guy in dragon robe & walrus mustache drag is climbing up a hill as a shocked Eastern European peasant looks on. After flinching before a random roadside cross, he finds Dracula's tomb, does some chanting and calls Drac out of his coffin.
Christopher Lee! Nope, Christopher Lee could not be bothered with this gig. Which is weird: I didn't know there was a movie Christopher Lee wouldn't do.
So, anyway, Droopy Mustache explains to "Dracula" that he's come all this way because there used to be seven vampires in his province and now there's only six and only six vampires gets no respect. Help me, Godfather! "Dracula" decides China sounds like a good place to move his vampire base, so he possesses Droopy Mustache and the credits roll!
Peter Cushing! Like he's supposed to be! Thank god! He's lecturing a class on vampires in China. As he tells the story of vampire attacks on villages, we focus in one one student in particular and then soft-focus into a flashback. A flashback that is what all flashbacks should be: A ten-minute kung fu battle involving the undead...
Zombies! Zombie army! Apparently, in China, the vampires can summon zombies. I guess that's why Dracula decided to move his operation here: Cheap zombie labor.
Van Helsing to accompany him to his ancestral village and help wipe out the vampires.
Seven Golden Vampires. From here on out, it's just alternating kung fu battles and Cushing-delivered exposition with occasional pan shots of the landscape. Rather than try to enumerate every kick, punch and "Long ago...," let us just list a few of the things one picks up while watching The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires.
1. Grindhouse math: If there are seven brothers and their one sister fighting nintey-eight zombies and six vampires, how many undead does each kung fu warrior get to kill? If each one gets to kill one vampire, how many kung fu warriors will not get to kill their own vampire?
2. The widow may bring her platinum AmEx, but you will grow tired of her cowering behind you during battles. And sometimes even when there is not a battle.
3. American zombies move in a sort of smacked-out goosestep, Chinese zombies do the bunny hop.
4. Vampires apparently hire third-graders to make their masks and swords. The undead do not concern themselves with the possible dangers of exposing young children to massive amounts of metallic spray paint.
5. Peter Cushing is one of the few men who can carry off a pith helmet adorned with flowing scarf without looking like Truman Capote vacationing in Tangier.
6. Vampires get really upset if you steal their belt buckles. The belt buckle is the source of a vampire's power.
7. It's nice to see that, for once, the male romantic lead looks at the shrieking, helpless, big-breasted blonde in the corset and the butt-kicking, take-care-of-myself girl in pigtails and satin pajamas and makes the right decision.
8. No matter what kind of monster costume you're making, a gorilla suit is always a great place to start.
9. When you enter a deep, dark cave in vampire territory, and you run across bats and skeletons, please don't act surprised when they are followed by vampires.
10. True love means impaling yourself on the same sharp stick.
The Shaw Brothers had done western co-productions before, such as Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (kung fu blaxploitation) and Virgins of the Seven Seas, a German co-production (kung fu Eurosleaze). Hammer had reportedly planned a follow-up, specifically a Bollywood/Hammer co-pro (whoa). The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires isn't the best of Hammer or the best of the Shaw Brothers, but it's still got plenty of the ingredients for a good time at the movies.