When I was growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, Hammer Horror still retained just a smidgen of that disreputability it enjoyed when it first erupted in 1957.
Since then, I've watched it become a cosy uncle of British cinema, equivalent almost to the Ealing comedy in respectability and affection, with some pleasure but a little sadness also.
It's disheartening to see something that was once edgy become so thoroughly absorbed into the fabric. I suppose the days when we see the films being shown on television on weekday afternoons are just around the corner.
So in a way it was almost pleasurable to discover that there are corners still where Hammer Horror is still something to be sniffed at, and handled, if at all, with tongs.
Despite living virtually on its doorstep for over five years, I had never been to Highgate Cemetery. A visit from my sister a couple of weekends back seemed the perfect opportunity to put this right, since she too is a Hammer Dracula addict, and the cemetery was used for some of the locations in Taste the Blood of Dracula; the (matte-painted) church in which the blood rite takes place being approached via a gated section of the cemetery called the Collumbarium.
We arrived on the Sunday morning, just in time for the guided tour. We asked the tour guide if the official route encompassed the Collumbarium.
"We go past it," he replied; "why?"
It's funny how embarrassing the phrase Taste the Blood of Dracula seems when you have to say it to a Highgate Cemetery tour guide.
"It was used in a film," I fudged.
"Which one?" he persisted.
"A Hammer film called Taste the Blood of Dracula," I conceded, any further obfuscation futile.
"Oh," he said, almost wistfully, as if receiving confirmation of a bad suspicion. "We don't mention that."
"Yes, I've got the DVD, but I won't be mentioning it."
"Any chance that we could go in on our own?"
"No, it's unsafe and you'll get lost."
Feeling thoroughly leprous, we decided not to take his tour, and that's why there are no photographs of the locations for Taste the Blood in this post.
The wonderful feeling that I again love something just a little bit too unsavoury for the English to openly acknowledge to each other on a Sunday morning, however, remains oddly compensatory.