Horror Movie Review: The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Chinese: 七金屍) is a 1974 martial arts horror film directed by Roy Ward Baker. The final movie in the Dracula series.

In Transylvania in 1804, a lone figure makes his way through the countryside. He enters the towering Castle Dracula, where he summons Count Dracula. The figure announces, in his own language, that his name is Kah, a Taoist monk. And the high priest of the Temple of the Seven Golden Vampires in rural China. He goes on to tell the Count that the Seven Golden Vampires’ power is fading and he needs him to restore them to their former glory. Dracula considers the offer and accepts on one condition. That he uses Kah’s body to escape his castle, which has become his prison. Despite Kah’s pleas for mercy, the vampire displaces himself into Kah’s body. Then triumphantly leaves the tomb for China.

A century later, Professor Van Helsing gives a lecture at a Chungking university on Chinese vampire legends. He speaks of an unknown rural village that has been terrorised by a cult of seven known as the Seven Golden Vampires. A farmer who had lost his wife to the vampires trekked his way to their temple and battled them. He was unsuccessful, as his wife was killed in the fight. But in the chaos he grabbed a medallion from around one of the vampire’s necks, which he saw as the vampires’ life source.

The farmer fled the temple, but the high priest sent the vampires and their turned victims after him. About to be cornered, the farmer placed the medallion around a small jade Buddha statue before the vampires killed him. One of the vampires spied the medallion around the Buddha and went over to collect it. However, the moment that the vampire touched the Buddha, the creature was destroyed in flames.

Van Helsing goes on to say that he is positive that the village still exists and is terrorized by the six remaining vampires. He is only unsure of where the village lies. Most of the professors he has gathered disbelieve the story and leave, but for one man. Hsi Ching informs Van Helsing that the farmer from the story was his grandfather. He proves it by producing the dead vampire’s medallion. He asks Van Helsing if he would be willing to travel to the village and destroy the vampire menace.

Van Helsing agrees and embarks with his son Leyland, Hsi Ching, and his seven kung fu-trained siblings on a dangerous journey. Funded by a wealthy widow named Vanessa Buren. On the journey, the group are ambushed by the six remaining vampires in a cave, along with their army of undead.

Will they make it to the village? What does any of this have to do with Dracula? Watch and find out.

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To start off, unbeknownst to me, I was watching the final movie in the Dracula franchise. This is the culmination of all of them and the last performance by Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. So, a bigger deal than I originally thought when choosing to watch this.

Peter Cushing naturally elevates the movie with his presence. Even though I haven’t seen all the films in the franchise, I know he’s the real deal because his character demands it.

Everyone acts well, however the dialogue is awfully clunky. It’s supposed to be a turn of the century setting but it feels a bit much. None of the characters are fleshed out at all, you’re not given a lot to go on. This impacts the chemistry of the characters, Van Helsing and his son for example barely speak to each other.

The martial arts angle is a pretty cool idea. I enjoyed the concept of vampires in China not fearing the cross but instead Buddha. The crossover of ideas is unique but it isn’t given the proper respect in my opinion. The skills shown are very basic and restrained. Perhaps the makeup was restricting but there are times when real ability could have been shown.

Due to the restrained combat, the film fails to excite and the numerous fight scenes drag. There are long scenes of travelling and the staring off, which don’t add much except runtime.

The visual effects were cool for the time period. There’s clearly been effort put into production. The version I watched was remastered I believe so makeup does seem sloppy here and there but I don’t think it was supposed to be seen so high definition so I’ll give it a pass.

Now, onto the vampires. Their powers are pretty weak and Dracula is limited to repeatedly banging a gong. They die very easily, including Dracula (it is the last movie so what did you expect), who meets his demise in under 5 minutes.

Overall, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires was a disappointment. This should have been an epic moment, the final showdown of Van Helsing and Dracula. But not only is getting to that point a chore, reaching it isn’t a reward either. I can see why no more were made and why Christopher Lee refused to reprise his role as Dracula.

If you’re a Dracula fan, or simply want to watch a silly 70s vampire martial arts movie then there’s some small enjoyment in there. Peter Cushing certainly crushes his role yet again and is a highlight. It’s just a shame they didn’t do it any justice. The planned sequel of Vampires in India sounded pretty good too!


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
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