Scars Of Dracula

Scars Of Dracula


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

You find yourself in a strange village. The locals don't seem very friendly. The buxom barmaid, herself a newcomer, tells you they never go outside after dark. They don't even talk about the castle on the hill. Do you

a) Leg it back to civilisation?

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b) Find a secure looking building and barricade yourself inside it until morning?

c) Go directly to the castle to ask for advice?

It helps, of course, if you know you're in a Hammer Horror film. It also helps if the last coach hasn't already left, its driver himself anxious to pursue option one. It also helps if you don't have a missing brother you're worried about and a girlfriend with a crush on your brother who is pressing you to take some kind of action. Still, our hero's decision to choose option three doesn't mark him out as the sharpest tool in the box, and he'll need something sharper than a hastily torn-off table leg if he's to successfully dispatch the horror that lurks in those dark towers.

From there on in, it's all fairly straightforward. Swirling capes, heaving bosoms, crucifixes, fangs - the works. There's also the world's cutest ever vampire bat, which flaps up and down on two pieces of string and inexplicably terrifies people. Patrick Troughton turns in a splendidly OTT performance as the titular count's loony servant, his loyalties torn after he falls for the heroine. She's one of the film's weaknesses, pretty enough but lacking the charisma and self-possession that marked out the best Hammer heroines. Dennis Waterman makes a suitably wide-eyed hero, though his transformation into avenger is never quite convincing. And of course there is Christopher Lee, compelling as ever in the title role. He gets more lines than usual and effortlessly steals every scene he's in. This is Dracula the aristocrat, not merely a fiend but a creature fully convinced of his own natural superiority, and it's difficult to argue with that.

With swirling mists, daunting precipices and a Plan 9-style tendency to switch at random between day and night, this is a film with no surprises and plenty of problems, but it will certainly give fans what they're looking for. Whilst far from the strongest entry in the Dracula canon it makes for a delicious snack that won't spoil your appetite if you're looking forward to something meatier.

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2011
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When his adventurous brother disappears, a young man and his girlfriend go to a small village to investigate but find the residents afraid to go outside after dark.
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Director: Roy Ward Baker

Writer: Anthony Hinds

Starring: Christopher Lee, Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley, Christopher Matthews, Patrick Troughton

Year: 1970

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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