10/14/13

SCARS OF DRACULA - REVIEW


In 1970, Hammer wanted to continue making Dracula movies yet reboot somewhat their franchise, so they made Scars Of Dracula.

A sort-of follow-up to Taste The Blood Of Dracula and a sort-of re-adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic novel, this movie means well but unfortunately falls pretty flat as a whole. It opens with a plastic bat inexplicably vomiting blood onto Dracula's ashes, thereby resurrecting him once again. I guess it makes more sense a bit later, when you know that Dracula has bats working for him, but if he's nothing but ashes, how can he still have any power over them? Never mind, it's a Hammer film, we're just gonna have to accept it. The plot follows a young couple who are about to be married and a guy called Paul (Christopher Matthews), a cheeky playboy who tries to escape a girl's father when he finds himself being dragged to some creepy village and, ultimately, Dracula's castle. The second scene of the film is actually really good: villagers find a dead body with scars on its neck so they bring torches and pitchforks (gotta have those) to Dracula's castle and burn it to the ground. They then get back to the village only to find everyone who had remained safely hidden in the church dead, devoured by bats. It's a tragic twist and you kind of which they'd opened with that scene as it would have made the whole vomiting bat moment feel less jarring.

Anyway, Paul gets to the castle and, after ignoring the villagers' warnings, ends up being held prisoner there by Dracula, Jonathan Harker-style. Come to think of it, it's like they split Jonathan Harker's character in two in this movie. Christopher Lee is, of course, Dracula and thankfully gets more lines than in some of his previous vampiric outings, even though most of the time he just makes faces and gets scared by tiny crosses. The middle part of the film is sadly rather dull, there's a lot of walking around and boring exposition-spouting. No Van Helsing this time, Peter Cushing is disappointingly absent and is sort-of-but-not-really replaced by a priest who tries to help the young couple. The film does have its occasional fun silly moment such as the overuse of plastic bats, Dracula going ape-shit and stabbing one of his brides repeatedly with a knife, random flashes of nudity and the frankly hilarious ending which famously sees Dracula being struck by lightning, bursting into flames and falling off the top of the castle while still on fire. The funny thing about this scene, despite everything that happens, is the mix of obvious cuts to Lee's stuntman every so often and the sound editing which just repeats one screaming sound over and over for like a minute.

Scars Of Dracula really isn't one of the best Hammer Dracula films out there: most of it is forgettable and uneventful. Luckily, it also has the odd cool or so-bad-it's-funny moment to keep you relatively awake and it does genuinely attempt to stay closer to Bram Stoker's novel, so there's always that.

Meh.

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