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Sunday June 23rd 2024

Taste The Blood Of Dracula | 1970

Taste The Blood Of Dracula filming location: St Andrew's Church, Totteridge Village, London N20
Taste The Blood Of Dracula location: the respectable Victorian gents attend church: St Andrew's Church, Totteridge Village, London N20

Last of the good Hammer sequels, with even a touch of social comment as Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) causes three gentlemen with secretly decadent tastes to be destroyed by their own children.

It's mostly set-bound at the famous Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, with a few practical locations in the area.

The film begins where Dracula Has Risen From The Grave left off, with the Count impaled on a cross and crying tears of blood. This prologue, with canny huckster Weller (Roy Kinnear) taking the chance to collect a phial of the vampire's dried blood, was filmed at Scratchwood Nature Reserve, just east of the village of Elstree, in Mill Hill, northwest London.

The three apparently upstanding examples of Victorian propriety (Geoffrey Keen, Peter Sallis and John Carson) piously attend the Sunday service at St Andrew's Church, Totteridge Village, London N20. With its picturesque wooden lychgate, the church looks like it's deep in the countryside and not toward the end of the Northern Line.

It's in St Andrew's churchyard that the first of Dracula's victims is buried.

Taste The Blood Of Dracula filming location: Highgate Cemtery, Swain's Lane, London N6
Taste The Blood Of Dracula location: the graveyard leading to the abandoned church: Highgate Cemetery West Section, Swain's Lane, London N6 | Photograph: Shutterstock / Dan Bridge

The abandoned church, however, in which the three libertines are encouraged to sample the beverage of the title by the decadent Lord Courtley (Ralph Bates) is nothing more than an elaborate studio set.

The graveyard through which the church is reached is the old West Section of Highgate Cemetery, on Swain’s Lane, London N6.

When central London’s burial places had filled up in the 19th century, huge cemeteries were opened up on what were then the outskirts of town. Not famous for their quiet modesty in grave styling, the Victorians came up with one of the most gloriously extravagant.

You can see Highgate again as the 'last' resting place of The Abominable Dr Phibes, with Vincent Price and in Tales From The Crypt. The cemetery famously contains the imposing tomb of political philosopher Karl Marx, which is featured in Karel Reisz's Morgan – A Suitable Case For Treatment and in Mike Leigh's High Hopes.

You can visit the Highgate's East Section but the older West Section can only be accessed by guided tour.

In happier times, the offspring of the three gents meet up on horseback at the bridge on Tykes Water Lake, Aldenham Country Park, off the A411 just west of Elstree, where Lucy Paxton (Isla Blair) announces her engagement. The location appears in quite a few Hammer productions and many TV series, but it's on private land and not accessible.