Roy Ward Baker (director)
30 October 2017 (released)
30 October 2017
As part of celebrating 60 Years of Hammer Horror, Studiocanal – in association with Park Circus, have released the first four of eight titles fully restored and in double-play format. SCARS OF DRACULA from 1970 is not the best of Hammer’s Christopher Lee/Dracula flicks and one wonders why this title has been picked as a ‘celebratory’ release, given the fact that Hammer’s first vehicle starring Lee as the infamous vampire count – HORROR OF DRACULA from 1958 – is far superior to SCARS OF…
Granted, the late Christopher Lee gets to usher more sentences then in the previous Hammer-Dracula films but if anyone is aware of the fact that in the previous ones Lee has next to no lines it’s a miracle that here he is allowed about ten sentences or so! Kicking off with a resurrection scene that sees the Prince of Darkness fully restored and ready to spread evil once again, the action then shifts to the to a small village nearby where the locals are planning their revenge as yet another young girl has fallen prey to the blood-thirsty Count. While the men – lead by a priest – are busy setting Dracula Castle on fire in the hope to destroy the Count forever they are shocked and distraught to learn upon their return that every women and child had been massacred in the church by bats!
Forward several years and we follow the antics of wannabe-Casanova Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) who has just been chucked out of the Burgomaster’s house for seducing his not so innocent daughter. Chased by the servants, he decides to drop by at pretty Sarah Framsen’s (Jenny Hanley) birthday party where he also finds his considerably more down-to-earth brother Simon (Dennis Waterman) who intends on marrying Sarah one day. Paul, a busy photographer when not busy seducing women, presents Sarah with a framed portrait of herself but upon realising that the glass is broken takes it back with the promise to fix it. Seconds later the Burgomaster’s servants gate-crash the birthday party and Paul makes a daring escape through the window before landing in a driverless coach which brings him to an Inn miles outside the village but his attempts to find shelter for the night are crushed when the hostile landlord (Michael Ripper) orders him to leave. The servant girl tells him of a nearby castle and so our hapless libertine heads off in the hope of finding shelter inside the castle walls. Shelter and hospitality – courtesy of sultry vampire lady Tania (Anouska Hempel) and Count Dracula – await him indeed but not in the way he had anticipated… The Counts hideous servant Klove (Patrick Troughton) discovers Sarah’s portrait among Paul’s belongings and does everything possible to ensure that the pretty lady doesn’t end up as another of Dracula’s victims. Meanwhile, Simon and Sarah head off to the countryside in search for his missing brother…
SCARS OF DRACULA has its moments, for example when Lee climbs along the outer castle walls or climactic finale during which… well, I won’t give away how the Count meets his demise in this one. But by and large the paper-thin plot is pretty preposterous and the ladies are way too flirty and seductive to make us believe the action takes place during the oh so prude Victorian era – the dresses reveal too much cleavage (in the case of vampire woman Tania that’s ok of course) and everyone’s mannerisms are too modern and not restrained enough for the 19th century.
Anyway, we are treated to some interesting bonus material.