Monday, 16 September 2013

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

The Hammer sequel to the 1958 classic Dracula (both directed by Terence Fisher), with a script so bad that Christopher Lee refused to say any of his lines, I nonetheless enjoyed Prince of Darkness.  I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than the “classic” Bela Lugosi Dracula from 1931; for a start there were no rubber bats or armadillos.  The cast are fairly run of the mill 60s horror material, apart from the creepy butler Klove (Philip Latham) who makes a good job of turning a fairly minor part into a sinister and memorable character; and of course Christopher Lee who despite not having any lines has an electrifying presence.

The film begins with a very brief synopsis of the 1958 Dracula (unfortunately not part of my Hammer boxed set), to let us know that Count Dracula is no more.  Of course this means that he has to be resurrected in this film, and the only way that can happen is with human blood.  Our four “heroes” naturally ignore all the warnings about castle Dracula and end up providing the necessary bodily fluids to revive the Count in a surprisingly gruesome scene.  Once resurrected Christopher Lee obviously dominates every scene he is in; his Dracula is so enigmatic and full of menace it is hard to take your eyes off him.

I really like the set for Castle Dracula, it has a very grandiose feel to it as well as managing to be mysterious, with the potential for secret passages everywhere.  In fact the only thing I really didn’t like was the end. Spoiler!  Dracula is killed by running water, but the water seems to be under concrete (though it’s probably ice) which seems to be just outside the castle wall, which is on top of a hill!  Is there really frozen running water at the top of the hill under the foundations of the castle?  I was confused!  However,this doesn’t really spoil what is an entertaining Dracula film with an excellent Christopher Lee and plenty of atmosphere.  But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.