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A young man, Paul Carlson, is on a trip and spends the night at count Dracula's castle. Needless to say, he is murdered. After some time has passed, the young man's brother Simon comes to the small town where all the traces end to look for him. Written by
This is simply an underrated film, and is unfairly placed at a disadvantage merely for coming along too late in the Hammer Dracula Sweepstakes. I'd place "Scars of Dracula" very high atop my personal favorites in this haphazard franchise, even above the good but yet still overrated "Horror of Dracula," even though I gave both of these the same basic surface rating. Had "Scars" been the very first offering for Hammer studios, it would be much better accepted than it is now.
For openers, "Scars of Dracula" correctly focuses more on the actions of Dracula himself and affords Christopher Lee more screen time than in any other Hammer Dracula film. The story itself is standard stuff, as another young man stumbles upon the Count's castle and tangles with the vampire. But in addition to seeing more of Drac, we also get to see more traditional staples of good vampire films - like squealing vampire bats and a Renfield-like assistant, for example. Dracula's vintage castle looks much more Gothic and authentic here than it ever did in "Horror of Dracula," and director Roy Ward Baker even includes a shot from straight out of Bram Stoker's novel where the Count is witnessed scaling the sides of the castle's exterior like some kind of lizard. And the lustful Anouska Hempel makes for a gorgeous and sexy vampiress. When she commands: "love me!" all I can do is ask her how hard.
Detractors like to pick on the fake look of the bats in the movie (as if movie prop bats have ever looked authentic in any old vampire films!) and they also cite the low budget sets as a detriment (and I'll maintain that "Horror of Dracula"'s sets looked far cheaper). I'll begrudgingly concede one commonly held flaw with the film, though - it involves the demise of Dracula. While it was a good idea in theory, the execution utilizes an obvious dummy and some hopelessly looped screaming that's repeated over and over again. Nothing's perfect when it comes to Hammer Dracula films, but this one's still a good time. Even Christopher Lee was pleasantly surprised when he did a recent audio commentary for the Anchor Bay DVD. *** out of ****
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