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John Stone (Bill Rogers) couldn't lead a happier life: He is a rich and
successful businessman with a lovely wife, Helene (Elizabeth Wilkinson)
and a secretary, Hester (Eleanor Vaill), who not only adores him but also
she runs the business better than he does. Then one day though he learns
about an inheritance in Great Britain that apparently consists of Carfax
Abbey, some vast treasure, and two bottles of brandy that come by mail ...
When John starts drinking the brandy, he starts to change though: He
never visits his office anymore, he sleeps all through the day, he fears
the crucifix, and he gets weird and bossy. Now all that would spell
vampire, but his wife rather believes in marital problems and turns to his
best friend Hank (William Kerwin), who's openly in love with her. The more
time she spends with Hank though, the more upset John gets ...
Then John is invited to England, to take care of his possessions - and
while he's there he kills three men. He returns to the States with a
coffin and a list, containing the names of the three dead men and three
more names - all of whom are connected with the death of Dracula, some 100
years ago, because by drinking the brandy, John has become Dracula.
Back in the USA, John kills some more while neither Helene nor Hank can
make heads or tails of his behaviour ... until Dr Howard Helsing (Otto
Schlessinger) appears on the scene to state the obvious - that John is
actually a vampire. By then though, John has started transforming Helene
into a vampire as well and has her under his hypnotic spell.
Eventually, the police closes in on John/Dracula, but he manages to
escape. Thing is though he makes Helene come after him, and this way,
Hank, Helsing and inspector Crane (Lawrence Tobin) can pick up his trail
and at long last stake him ...
A version of Dracula made by Herschell Gordon Lewis, now
that at least sounds interesting - but be warned, this is not another of
his gore extravaganzas (actually, there's precious little blood in this
one) nor does it contain the same amount of black humour as his actual
masterpieces (actually, for most part, the film takes itself rather
seriously). Plus, with a running time of almost 2 hours, the film is
probably the longest in Lewis' filmography (though I have not thoroughly
checked that), and as a matter of fact, it could have done with half an
hour less running time. And the finale is rather a disappointment,
But that all said, A Taste of Blood isn't half bad, it contains
an interesting and novel approach to vampirism, tells an involving story
full of fleshed-out characters (rather than Lewis' usual hysteric
caricatures), and is actually pretty intelligent - in the confines of the
vampire genre. It's just not what you have come to expect from a director
like Herschell Gordon Lewis, but still well worth a look.