The Avengers: Intercrime

Intercrime (Episode 02-15, January 1963). 


Intercrime marks The Avengers’ foray into a Murder, Inc. style plot. Steed cons Cathy, as usual, into infiltrating a criminal organization. First he gets her arrested, then she switches places with a vicious German assassin. Her assignment is basically to infiltrate the organization, find out what they’re up to, and report back. This being The Avengers, things get complicated quickly and Cathy finds herself in the middle of an attempted coup by Intercrime’s second-in-command. Steed, meanwhile, gets the easy part, chatting up beautiful blondes and trying to avoid being shot in the head by his own partner. 

Intercrime is (I think) the first appearance of Kenneth J. Warren, who will go on to be one of the most recognizable ‘doppelgängers’ in The Avengers (actors who appear in multiple episodes playing different roles). Warren is Felder, one of the leaders of Intercrime, and a deliciously enjoyable, even likable villain. While he might get more to do in his memorable turn as crazed film director Z.Z. von Schnerk in the Emma Peel episode Epic, he’s still interesting to watch. The entire episode, in fact, boasts of good character performances, particularly Julia Arnall as the assassin Hilda Stern.

Macnee and Blackman are, as always, tons of fun. Blackman gets a bit more to do in this episode, putting on a fake German accent, trying to defend the life of a criminal in trouble with Intercrime, and attempting to bluff her way through when the assassin she’s replaced turns up alive and well. Macnee also gets a few good moments as he tries to convince the girlfriend of one of Intercrime’s leaders that she’s in danger, and laying it on thick as Cathy’s supposed attorney. The episode is nicely balanced between the two of them, although it doesn’t do much to showcase their chemistry.

Intercrime falls short of being a favorite episode of mine – there’s not enough humor or Steed/Cathy repartee, but it’s a fun outing, and a slightly more serious/believable plot line.  

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

Dracula A.D. 1972


Hammer Studios went into decline as they skated into the 1970s. Their returns would rapidly diminish; they would begin replacing their brand of well-made camp horror with ever greater exposure of skin, blood and pointless violence. But there were a few remnants of the old Hammer as the studio went into the 70s, and none is weirder, or more enjoyable than Dracula A.D. 1972.

The year is 1972 (in case you missed it) and Count Dracula has been dead for 100 years. But his acolytes live on, and it’s time for the King of Vampires to return to wreak havoc on the groovy chicks of swinging London. Dracula is resurrected by a bunch of bored hippies, led by the nasty Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame). While the others take the whole satanist ritual as a big joke, Johnny is dead serious. Dracula returns from the dead, looking pretty damn good for being dust and ash for the past 100 years. He wants blood, and he wants it now; cue Johnny running around procuring sexy girls to satisfy Dracula’s bloodlust. But Dracula is particularly interested in chowing down on Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham), one of Johnny’s friends and the youngest descendant of Laurence Van Helsing, who staked the undead Count. Meanwhile, Jessica’s grandfather Lorrimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and a police inspector (Michael Coles) investigate the mysterious deaths of the young maidens that Dracula has been draining.

Dracula A.D. 1972 is the height of Hammer camp, with a groovy go-go soundtrack, crazy clothes and drug-addled hippies (what with their loose morals and blood-sacrificing ways). There are some uncomfortable parallels between Dracula’s murders and the Manson family killings that only took place a few years before; the film trades on the mainstream fear of the new generation, with the group of friends always looking for a new thrill. There’s an added fluid sexuality – Dracula’s acolytes are all men instead of brides – and, as always, the heaving bosoms and red-paint blood we all expect from Hammer.

But when you come down to it, no Dracula film works without Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Lee thankfully does not have to wander around swinging London or board a bus in his cape; he instead sticks to the de-sanctified churchyard while Johnny does his dirty work. Cushing and Lee are excellent adversaries, even when they barely spend a moment on-screen together: Cushing’s slight physicality, his solid Englishness, the quiet intensity with which he tries to protect those he loves, juxtaposed against Lee, tall, elegant, with booming voice and nearly black eyes. They make a great team, and Dracula A.D. 1972 brings them together once more.

Dracula A.D. 1972 might be the last great Hammer film. While it shows signs of wear and tear – and foreshadows the studio’s decline – it still has enough campy fun to go around, punctuated by some serious moments of true horror.