Scars of Dracula
Dir: Roy Ward Baker
Star: Christopher Lee, Jenny Hanley, Patrick Troughton, Dennis Waterman
Cert / Year: 15 - PG-13 / 1970
Format: DVD R2

Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) is resurrected from his ashen coffin by the regurgitation of blood by one of his "familiar" vampire bats. Thus resurrected, he proceeds to feed again and pretty soon his neighbours in the local "accursed" village of Kleinenberg find one of their women slain. Naturally unhappy at this, all the men of the village lock their women up in a church and head off to the castle to burn the foul corruption which has befallen them. Despite setting light to the castle, they fail in their mission and Dracula wreaks a terrible vengeance upon them. Not long afterward, a young couple (Dennis Waterman & Jenny Hanley) arrive in the village in search of their friend who they believe passed through as he fled an enraged burgomaster (Bob Todd) over a misunderstanding concerning his daughter. They are alarmed by the strange behaviour of the locals and venture to the mysterious castle on the hill, where they are "invited", by Dracula, to spend the night.... in his ..... chambers

Okay, so for many horror fans you either love the Hammer movies or you hate them, but either way they are recognisable classics. The "plot" for Scars of Dracula is the usual ploy of dumping a young couple in the vampire's doom laden castle, admittedly this time they have a slight ulterior motive but the formula is still the same, however you dress it. Unlike many of the other Hammer Dracula movies they appear to have read Bram Stoker's book this time and have actually paid more attention to the character in addition to some of the more intrinsic elements of the story.

Scars of Dracula displays all the hallmarks of a classic Hammer horror film. You have dodgy looking rubber bats swinging (oops, sorry, flying) around on strings / wires, Christopher Lee as Dracula of course, a couple of buxom beauties straining to be contained within their clothing (but not in a lurid manner), an angry horde of fire wielding villagers and some beautiful, if a little cheap looking sets and production design. By modern standards this is unfortunately, terribly dated and doesn't hold up all that well, but as with most Hammer horror films, this does have a quaint charm all of its own, guaranteed to make it popular with the real fans. Admittedly the script by Hammer regular Anthony Hinds is trite, cheesy, bland and fraught with terrible characterisations struggling to claw themselves out from flat, 1 dimensional hell. Even Christopher Lee has to struggle with some of the rather poor and unimaginative dialogue. The effects were good overrall for the time but can appear quite laughable now in the days where ever more impressive CGI and huge budgets ensure that the audience is suitably dazzled.

This may allegedly be meant to be before Dracula: Prince of Darkness as Dracula's henchman / servant Klove (Patrick Troughton) is still alive. Troughton is instantly recognisable and is bound to be a popular sight for Doctor Who fans. Troughton is very cool and provides an exaggerated and fabulously over the top performance, just as you would expect from "The Doctor" and hams it up nicely in an unconvincing, bushy eyebrow way. Christopher Lee is excellent as always and despite obvious limitations with script he turns in another cool performance as the "Prince of darkness" (No, not Ozzy Osbourne). Not the best of the Hammer Dracula movies but not the worst. Dennis Waterman is acceptable as Simon, but does take "hapless" to an all new level. A good ensemble cast make up the numbers including a brief performance by Benny Hill Show regular Bob Todd as a local burgomaster. Jenny Hanley makes a watchable female lead but is still an intended victim. She did fare better in the popular British comedy Percy's Progress, but here there is little to write home about as there is only so much heavy breathing you can watch her do in one film.

Frequent Hammer studios director Roy Ward Baker directs nicely and provides some unobtrusive set pieces. As with many of the Hammer movies this is a horror film from a more civilized era in film making, from the studio that led the way in the field. Camp, mildly creepy but entertaining and Christopher Lee is always worth watching, especially as Dracula. Visually, this is well set out and in true Hammer fashion it looks far better than it should, carrying a succinct atmosphere and remaining thoroughly entertaining. Okay, so it isn't half as scary as it was during the late night horror film presentations we used to watch, but some of us have had to grow up since then. This is not the worst of the Hammer Dracula offerings but it was the last of the "period" ones before they catapulted him into modern times and sent the franchise plummetting in a downward spiral.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 A good quality transfer given the age of the film
Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Not brilliant but good quality
Features Dull, static menu
Theatrical trailer
Verdict A minimal disc with nothing except the trailer on it, but the transfer is very good and looks great now..... even if it does make the flaws more noticable.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home