‘Taste The Blood Of Dracula’ is a bit of a funny old Dracula film. Apart from a prologue which rehashes the end of 'Dracula Has Risen From The Grave' to include a scene in which Drac shares a scene with Roy Kinnear (finally!), the undead one doesn’t even show up for forty five minutes and, when he does, everything goes downhill quickly from there.
The main story concerns three rich middle aged men (Geoffrey Keen, John Carson and, ulp, Peter Sallis) who, bored with life, have formed a kind of Saga Hellfire Club, and spend their time pursuing the ‘ultimate thrill’ (prossies, mainly, some drug abuse - 'cracking opium, Grommit!'). Overindulging in the flesh has left them jaded, however, and they yearn for something different. Enter super decadent fop Lord Courtley (Ralph Bates), a man so dastardly that working girls pay him for sex. Courtley offers the men a bargain: if they give him a thousand quid he will include them in a satanic ritual which will give them eternal life.
Intrigued, slightly turned on, they willingly fork over the cash only for Courtley to immediately give it to Roy Kinnear who, many years after his encounter with the Count, has kept his cloak, clasp, signet ring and a phial of his dried blood. With these unearthly artefacts in his possession, Courtley enacts some unspeakable rites in a deconsecrated church, climaxing in him adding blood to the dried Dracula blood and making a horrible looking cocktail with which the men are expected to drink. Thrills are thrills, but this looks like red Complan mixed with dog shit, so the men demur and, refusing to follow Courtley’s example and drink, instead beat him to death.
Courtley doesn’t stay dead too long, of course, his corpse soon transforming into Count Dracula who, for whatever reason, immediately vows revenge on the three men, a petty vendetta that seems slightly beneath him. In fact, this reincarnation of Dracula is marked by how pathetic he is: stumbling around in an ill-fitting black wig (occasionally resembling Nicolas Cage), he seems remarkably powerless, getting teenage girls (Linda Hayden and Isla Blair) to bring victims to him and, indeed, to do most of his dirty work. The climax, in which he is thwarted by a skinny kid with a couple of crucifixes, is one of the poorest of all Dracula deaths: he seemingly dies of fright, like one of those weird goats that has a heart attack if someone makes a sudden movement.
In an ideal world, this needn’t have been a Dracula film at all, it could have just been about the horrible revenge of the undead Courtley. It would have been great if he’d rampaged around killing the men in ingenious ways and introducing their daughters to all sorts of depravity before being sent back to hell by an angry mob or a priest with a shotgun or something - but then that wouldn’t have had Dracula in the title, and that’s the crux of the matter: the brand gets the audience in the cinema – after that, well, that’s their problem.