I remembered only a few things about the film including the one image almost everyone takes from it. This would be the vampire brides rising from their basement coffins to attack potential victims. These sequences are still quite memorable and effective but the things I had forgotten were numerous!
Bizarrely, I had forgotten that Peter Cushing was even in this film! How the hell did I edit Cushing out of this? Was I trying to excuse him from a movie I thought was beneath him? But there he is front and center playing the same Van Helsing character he played in the previous year's DRACULA A.D. 72 and getting involved in the mystery at the heart of this one. And he's great, as always. I had forgotten that the amazing Freddie Jones is in this doing his usual brilliant, brittle loon character who is teetering on the edge of madness. And he's great, as always. I had completely forgotten the entire MI-6 James Bondian style plot of the film and I found myself very much enjoying how well written it is. I was having quite a lot of fun before the supernatural element in the story advanced beyond somebody possibly screwing over old rich people with occult silliness. Watching British spies work off-book to discover if their superiors are doing dastardly things is entertaining enough on it's own.
But the thing I was most surprised that I had completely mis-remembered was the ending of the film. I correctly remembered that Dracula gets caught in hawthorn bushes but incorrectly thought he was killed by this entanglement. No, no! Drac gets stopped by these thorn bushes and then Cushing grabs a convenient piece of wood and stakes that sucker good! And I mean he leans into this action. It is vicious and well done. How could I have forgotten this? It's the end of the movie! And the end for Hammer of the Lee Dracula character. It's a great vampire destruction and I just edited it out or my head. Nuts!
I stand corrected on the qualities of THE SATANIC RITE OF DRACULA (1973). It was not a sad, silly, sloppy ending for the series. It actually quite strong and I'm glad that the Blu-Ray exists.