A group of English tourists are seeking a place to stay for the evening while travelling in the Carpathian mountains. The local monastery is full up and there are no vacancies at the inns, either. Our travellers wind up at Castle Dracula, which looks quaint enough in the daylight. Father Sandor from the monastery has warned them away from the place, but they stupidly ignore him. As night falls, one of the men is abducted by the castle’s caretaker, who upends him above a tub and slashes his throat. He bleeds into the tub, over the dusty remains therein, and suddenly, Dracula rises again and promptly transforms one of the women into a vampire wanton. Our hero and her fiancee seek help at the monastery and this time, Father Sandor takes them in. Sandor knows what evil has descended on the land, but is unable to stop Dracula from giving his unholy communion to our hero’s girl. The chase is on to destroy the vampire before his chosen bride joins him in undeath. The film climaxes with a twilight showdown on the frozen river that flows in front of Castle Dracula, when Father Sandor realizes that the running water beneath the ice is fatal to vampires….For a while, the formula in the Hammer Films had the power of myth. The elements assembled for the Hammer Horrors seemed ordained by fate. These movies pitted the upright forces of good against the depraved forces of evil according to strictly ritualized rules: the secondary female character becomes a vampire wanton, the hero’s girfriend becomes tainted, the vampire hunting savant educates the hero in the ways of vampire slaying, and the vampire is destroyed at the end–usually in some variety of spectacular disintegration. The formula strangled the Hammer Horrors in the end, reducing them to pale shadows that subsisted on t&a and a splash of red rather than the red meat of great horror movies. But at the oustet, before it was stale, it worked marvelously. Dracula: Prince of Darkness is an oddity in the progression of the Hammer movies. Oh, it follows the formula religiously, of course, but it is radically distinct from The Horror of Dracula. By removing the film from the confines of Victorian England and by changing the savant into robust Andrew Kier rather than slender Peter Cushing, Dracula: Prince of Darkness FEELS different from The Horror of Dracula even though it really isn’t different at all. This is the third of Hammer’s Dracula films and the second to star Christopher Lee (Lee declined a part in Brides of Dracula, fearing that he would be typecast). Lee cements his position as Lugosi’s heir to the part here, despite having no dialogue. The screenplay reportedly had Dracula uttering lines like, “I am the apocalypse!” which Lee refused to speak aloud on film (and really, who can blame him?). Lee’s cultured voice was a rich part of his performance in the first film. Its absence here is disappointing, but Lee’s PRESENCE still dominates the film. It should be said of this film that the scene where Father Sandor shoots the ice out from under Dracula at this film’s climax may very well be the best vampire slaying on film. It is certainly one of the most unusual.
3.28GB | 1h 30mn | 1280×544 | mkv