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!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Scars of Dracula


A bat drips blood onto the remains of Dracula which resurrects him. As he lie sleeping in his crypt, the local villagers come to burn the castle down. They get past his servant and manage to burn part of the castle but Dracula survives. When the villagers return to the church where their wife's had been hiding they are horrified to discover that Dracula has controlled some bats to kill them all. From now on the villagers live in absolute fear of the Count and isolate themselves from anyone other than the other locals. So when a young man (Paul) comes wanting somewhere to stay the local pub landlord sends him on his way and leaves him with nowhere other than the castle to go to. At the castle he becomes Dracula's prisoner. The young man's brother (Simon) along with his fiancée (Sarah) pass through the local village searching for his Paul. None of them are willing to help except for one young woman who tells them that he went to the castle. After getting in the castle and discovering the truth about the Count they manage to escape, but shortly after and with the help of the local priest they return to battle the Count and save his brother.

Scars of Dracula is a 1970 Hammer Production. It stars Christopher Lee, Patrick Troughton and Dennis Waterman. It was directed by Roy Ward Baker. From what I've read this was planned to be the first of a new series of Dracula films but at the distributor's insistence the resurrection scene was added at the start of the film.

I think by this point we can just accept that Dracula is with us for good, he's never going to die no matter how many times we've actually seen him die. I mean how many times and in how many different ways can he be resurrected after turning to dust? This said I still really enjoy the Dracula films though, even with his constant deaths and resurrections, I enjoy seeing how imaginative each one can be. I have to say the death in this film I did not expect but I'll come to that later.

OH MY GIDDY AUNT! It's Patrick Troughton!

I love Dracula's Bat Alarm clock. Although it's no use as Dracula is obviously a deep sleeper, it flies above him squawking and squawking yet he still sleeps through it. Either he's a deep sleeper or it's one of those crappy alarm clocks, hell I don't want one any more.

Then we see Simon and Sarah at a social gathering to celebrate Sarah's birthday. Hold on, her birthday cake is Christmas cake! There's a huge group of people at this birthday celebration and not one of them could afford to get her some Victoria Sponge? Tight Bastards.

Yey! Dennis Waterman. I wonder if he sang the theme tune.

There is a very Carry On-esque moment. Paul is in bed with a woman, then he suddenly says he has to go, she assumes he is leaving to meet another woman (why he didn't deny it I don't know, afterall he was only going to his brother's fiancée's birthday bash) and she chases him down the stairs wearing nothing except the bed sheet. Then her father walks in, she accuses him of trying to interfere with her to which the father grabs him by the scruff of the neck in a comical fashion shouting things like “You young swine?!”. Just what Dracula needs, y'know the whole raunchy, bawdy comedy and sexual mishaps style comedy. Comedy? But this is Hammer. THIS IS HAMMER!

Dracula brutally stabbing a female vampire was both horrible and funny, horrible because of what it was, but funny ...also because of what it was. Why would he stab her? Why would he stab her with a knife? And how does a knife manage to kill her? She's a vampire! Use a steak! You should know this Dracula, God knows you must have been killed via a steak in at least one of your many deaths.

I have to give credit to the visual effects in this, they're actually rather good. Obviously by today's standards they're not but for 1970 I think they're pretty good. The make up on the victims attacked by the bats looked pretty gristly and good for that reason. The model effects for the castle are rather good too, the castle itself isn't bad but most of all the shots when the camera is looking down the side of the castle and we see right down the edge of a cliff, the effects on that bit alone were surprisingly good.

There is such a bad continuity error that keeps losing more and more continuity every time we see it. Paul got Sarah a picture of herself in a frame as a birthday present, but the glass got cracked at some unseen point when it was in his jacket. The crack is constantly changing direction every time we see it. Originally its a vertical crack, then at one point its a diagonal crack then it's a horizontal crack, and for the whole film it can't decide which way to stay. I just don't get how that could even happen, it's one prop which for the whole film has been cracked, so no change has had to have been made to it yet there's still this constant continuity error, how difficult is it to keep one prop the same for the whole film?

Oh! That is nasty. When Simon finally finds Paul in Dracula's crypt, he is dead and hung up on a hook on the wall which has pierced right through him and is sticking out of his chest. This is horrible but looks really good, so again more credit to the effects team on this one.

Dracula scaling his castle wall is an instant win. Not only for being awesome but for being the first time a film has attempted to capture the famous wall climbing scene from Bram Stoker's original novel.

Sarah is a bit shit, now I understand a bat was flying at her trying to bite the cross from around her neck and yank it away, but come on she just stood there gasping. The bat was struggling anyway to even get a hold of the cross so surely she could have just hit it. COME ON! PUNCH THE BLOODY THING!

I don't really know what to think about Dracula's death. It definitely got me by surprise but is surprise enough to make it a good death. I mean Dracula's had some great deaths over the years; the combination of a candlestick cross and sunlight, landing on a cross. And there's also been the not so great ones; realising he's in a church and falling onto the altar, and falling into water for instance. But this I mainly like purely for it's surprise factor. Simon throws a metal pole into Dracula's chest, the pole is then struck by lightning setting him on fire. Burning him to death as he falls and plunges off the castle. Like I said it's definitely not one I saw coming, and for that I have to give it credit and I suppose it's a decent death, it definitely beats fresh running water.

Overall, I liked it. This film (from what I've read on other sites) seems to get a bad rap but I liked it, aside from the unnecessary Carry On bit it was quite a good Dracula film (now I like my Carry On's but it just didn't seem right having a place in a Hammer Horror). The visuals were pretty good, the story was decent enough and I liked the cast, it was great to see Patrick Troughton and Dennis Waterman in a Hammer, what can I say Hammer they could be so good for you.

Scars of Dracula 3/5

1 comment:

  1. That death sounds like the greatest thing in history ever. Well, except for how it's the fate that befalls Eeyore in that imaginary Winnie the Pooh we discussed, but never mind!