The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is not usually regarded a jewel in the crown of Hammer Films. It's frequently seen as an attempt to cash in on the character for which Hammer was most famous – Dracula – as well as the '70s kung fu craze. It's a curiosity, but not exactly a great flick. The music's pretty great, but that's not what we have here in this reissue from Dust Bug.
James Barnard's score makes a regular appearance as backing to the narration of Peter Cushing, but The Legend of Ancient China is the only piece to appear sans dialogue or narration. A shame, as it does a wonderful job of bridging the gap 'twixt Hammer's rather ornate mood pieces and the always slightly funky kung fu scores of the time, while still maintaining the very Eastern influences therein.
Cushing's narration is fine, although when one looks at the previous Dust Bug reissue, Hammer presents Dracula, it can't possibly compete with the lush sonorous qualities of Christopher Lee. It's rather like opting for the man who reads the shipping reports over Neil Nunes. Still, it's a nice story, and told in a pleasant way, but far from involving.
What would have made this better would have been the addition of far more sound effects or, really, an additional sort of foley work to create a rather more immersive world. The last few minutes – during The Vampires Attack and The Destruction of the Vampires especially – benefit greatly from a sense of being present in the midst of the battle. The screams, sword clashes, and so on turn this into a film on record, rather than simply Peter Cushing reading a story.
Dust Bug has a lovely reissue, here. It's on a “blood red and black belt” marbled vinyl LP, in a hand-numbered sleeve that exactly reproduces the original. Again, the label's gone completely analogue with the remaster, and it sounds warm and inviting. Listening, one feels like they're sitting across from Cushing as he relates the story personally.
This is for fans of Hammer and/or kung fu only. Casual interest may result in being impressed with the product, but a trifle underwhelmed by what's on it.
THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) / NARRATOR: PETER CUSHING / COMPOSER: JAMES BARNARD / LABEL: DUST BUG RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW