This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Two Couples are travelling together to Carlsbad, along the way the coach driver leaves them stranded as it's getting near dark. They take advantage of an empty, driverless horse and carriage which turns up out of nowhere, but once they board it the horses begin taking them in the opposite direction to Carlsbad and instead to Castle Dracula. They are greeted at the castle by Dracula's servant, who states he was told by Dracula to look after guests even after his death. Later that night, the servant uses the blood from one of the men to resurrect Dracula from his ashes. Here his reign of terror begins once again.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a 1966 Hammer production. It is the sequel to 1960's The Brides of Dracula and is Hammer's third Dracula film. It stars Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley and Andrew Keir. It was directed by Terence Fisher.

It was nice to see Peter Cushing make an appearance even though he wasn't in the film, this was achieved by opening the film with the final scenes of Dracula, in which Van Helsing destroys Dracula through the use of a candle stick cross and the sun.

This film taught me one thing that warming your backside is an “earthly pleasure” stated by Andrew Keir's Father Sandor as he warms his backside on an open fire with glee.

This Dracula film is notable for two things. Firstly, the controversial scene in which one of the men gets his throat slit while hung upside down above Dracula's coffin, allowing the blood to pour from his throat into the coffin filled with Dracula's ashes. Secondly, Dracula doesn't speak a single word throughout the entire film, the reason for this is from one of two claims. One being that Christopher Lee states that when he saw the script he refused to speak the dialogue, the other being that the screen writer, Jimmy Sangster, didn't write any dialogue for Dracula as he didn't believe vampires should speak and instead should be a visual image of horror.

Dracula is portrayed really well in this film, the technique of having him with no dialogue is brilliant. It creates a visual image of horror, as opposed to a creepy voice or whatever, the character relies on Christopher Lee over acting and heightening Dracula's actions, resulting in a completely visualised depiction of horror to instate fear without anything other than sight.

What can I say, for what (as far as I'm aware) is considered to be the best of the Hammer Dracula films, I disagree. Don't get me wrong it is rather good, but I stick with my previous statement that 1958's Dracula is the best in the series. Though there are some dodgy effects, like the sun setting in a matter of seconds and in the controversial scene whenever there is a shot with the man within it there isn't any blood dripping yet we can still hear it, but when its a shot of the coffin there is masses of blood pouring into it from off screen. In fact the blood is almost wiggling all over the place as the source of the blood appears to be moving from off screen as the blood is pouring, almost as if the man is being shook about as he hangs. But these aren't important, they don't spoil the film they're just noticeable. The film is fun and enjoyable and all round a decent Dracula film but I wouldn't agree that it's the best one. Maybe it's just that I feel it was missing Peter Cushing too much I don't know, but it's definitely worth a look either way.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness 3/5

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