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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is quite appreciably Hammer's poorest Dracula movie, with
cardboard sets, uninterested actors, and a general air of decrepitude:
thus Hammer ushered in the 70s. Together with the slightly better but
banal The Vampire Lovers and the dreadful Lust For A Vampire, this lot
just about put paid to Hammer Films as a commerically successful
company. They manged to carry on for a few more years and made some
much better movies along the way, but Scars is pretty much a stake
through the heart.
Denis Waterman, best known to UK viewers as Regan's up-for-a-punch-up Cock-er-ney side kick in The Sweeney, and the tough Cock-er-ney ex-boxer in Minder, is rather charmingly cast as a posh student lawyer in search of his missing brother.He almost brings it off, too.
Hammer seem to have made some attempt to placate Christopher Lee, who was growing increasingly disenchanted at playing Dracula; they cover Stoker's original novel a little more (including a brief scaling of the castle walls by The Count himself) and give Lee a bit more to do.
Unfortunately, the borrowings from Psycho become rather obvious, with Dracula even stabbing his vampire bride. Add a Benny Hill-style cameo from Bob Todd, some lame double entendres and Michael Ripper's comedy pub where no one can get in (this happens at least 3 times in the movie) and you have a pretty poor film.
Personally I think the acting honours should go to Patrick Troughton's eyebrows, Micheal Ripper's conning him into opening the gates of the castle is priceless, though for all the wrong reasons - "Open up, I've got something here for you!" The film's best moment comes when the priest helping our intrepid vampire hunter is mercilessly bitten and clawed to death by the Count's pet bat. Gory but extremely well done, which is more than I can say for the bats other appearances.
Hammer's modern day follow-up Dracula AD 72 is just as bad, but considerably more entertaining: Scars went out on a double bill with Horror Of Frankenstein, surely making it one of the worst double bills ever inflicted on a cinema audience....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After some villagers band together and burn down Count Dracula's
castle, things are peacefully quiet, until Paul Carlson stumbles across
the place. Dracula offers him a place to stay, little does Paul know
what awaits him. Paul is inevitably murdered. Paul's brother Simon
takes his companion Sarah to go look for him. Is it just me? or are
these movies really becoming indistinguishable. I love Horror of
Dracula, a couple of sequels are entertaining as well, but by this
point, they were completely derivative and lacking imagination. The
sets are typically lavish, cinematography is fantastic, and stylish
atmosphere is present as well, but it's all for naught. This one
suffers from pacing issues as well. At times, it is way too talky with
characters that are very uninteresting. The gore is actually OK for
this sort of thing. We get a couple of people being impaled, neck
bites, and bloody bat attacks. I highly doubt it will whet a gore
hound's appetite, but it is decent enough for a film like this. The
acting is so-so. Christopher Lee continues to hum along very well with
his typical menacing style. Dennis Waterman is extremely bland as
Simon, Jenny Hanley is average as the love interest. Christopher
Matthews is decent as Paul. What is up with all the characters named
Paul in this series?! Dracula's demise in this one is very lame,
lacking any excitement. This would be the final period film in this
series, moving to more of a contemporary setting with Dracula A.D. It
isn't the worst, but far from the best. Worth a look, but prepare for
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Scars of Dracula starts in Klinnsberg where a young man named Paul
Carlson (Christopher Matthews) is accused of molesting the local
Burgomaster's ((Bob Todd) daughter (Delia Lindsay) so he flees in a
horse & coach. Across the border he decides to seek shelter in a gloomy
castle belonging to Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) who is in fact a
resurrected Vampire, after Paul finds out Dracula has to take steps to
prevent him leaving. Worried for his brother Simon (Dennis Waterman) &
his fiancé Sarah (Jenny Hanley) go in search of Paul & finally track
him down to Dracula's castle where they discover what happened to him &
find themselves in danger from Dracula who takes a fancy to Sarah...
This British production was directed by Roy Ward Baker & was the sixth Hammer Studios produced Dracula film & is only really notable for the fact that it was Hammer's last period Gothic set Dracula film as the studios subsequent Dracula efforts were set in the 70's or as in the case of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampies (1974) Hammer decided to mix the Dracula franchise with a Kung-Fu flick. Anyway, the script uses some of the classic Bram Stoker imagery from his novel like the large imposing castle & Dracula himself scaling a castle wall, sinister horse drawn carriage rides, Dracula's brides & Dracula himself as a polite host but I felt the plot was rather thin on the ground. There really isn't much to Scars of Dracula beyond the Hammer horror clichés of Christopher Lee seducing pretty young English girls, superstitious local villagers & lots of running around in a supposedly huge Gothic castle that seems to consist of about three rooms. The one major Hammer horror cliché that I did sorely miss here was Peter Cushing as the Van Helsing character who appears to have taken a break from the series for three films around this point. The film just feels a little bit empty, it's a bit too predictable & rather lifeless. Having said that it's watchable enough with enough going on to one entertained & I'm sure the Hammer horror & 70's Gothic period Anglo horror crowd will enjoy it all the same as I did, not the best Hammer horror Dracula offering but still perfectly entertaining & watchable.
One major plus point for Scars of Dracula is that it's probably a little more exploitative than usual with slightly higher gore & nudity levels. There's a dismemberment that was apparently originally even gorier but was cut down at the time to appease British censors & the cut footage has never resurfaced anywhere & probably no longer exists, there's a stabbing which suffered the same fate, some gory bat attacks in which a woman is seen with her eyeball hanging out, a man is seen impaled on spikes through his chest & someone is tortured & branded with a white hot sword. There's quite a bit of female flesh on display as well although nothing too graphic, there's some bare bums on show & the very low cut figure hugging dresses seem to expose even more bare flesh than usual. The production design is also nice with atmospheric period sets although the lighting is a little flat. The budgets on these Hammer horror films were obviously getting smaller as seen in the cramped sets. One area that really doesn't stand up today are the special effects, in particular those bat effects. Oh dear. They are awful. Rubber bats on strings that hover in mid air, glide across the screen slowly & barely flap their wings. They are a sorry sight indeed & I doubt they even convinced somewhat more naive than now audiences back in 1970.
Shot at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire here in the UK this looks nice enough & is still certainly head & shoulders above most modern low budget horror despite the makers meagre resources. As for the cast Christopher Lee is still my favourite screen Dracula & is just brilliant in the role despite lacklustre material given to him by Hammer, leading lady Jenny Hanley was dubbed throughout by Nikki Van der Zyl, Dennis Waterman would later go on to star in two of British telly's most populars show's with his roles in The Sweeney (1975-1978) & Minder (1979-1989) while Patrick Troughton had just finished his stint as the second Doctor on the popular sci-fi series Doctor Who which is still going just as strong today.
Scars of Dracula is a decent enough period Gothic set Hammer horror entry that is neither here nor there really, it's OK for what it is & entertains enough while watching it but there's not too much to it & once it's over it won't stay that long in your memory.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Scars of Dracula" may be one of Hammer's more over-looked classics.
A vampire bat's blood reawakens Dracula (Christopher Lee) from the ashes deep within his castle, immediately preying on a local victim. This has been the last straw for the villagers, who team up together and raids Dracula's castle. The local landlord (Michael Ripper) leads the charge as the villagers set fire to the castle. Believing they have rid themselves of Dracula, the villagers return to their church to find the entire village killed at the hands of the devil. As Sarah Carlson (Jenny Hanley) sits at home on her birthday wondering where her boyfriend Paul (Christopher Matthews) is, he sneaks away from his mistress, Alice, (Delia Lindsay) her father (Bob Todd) sends his troops after him. He makes his way back to Sarah's party. Paul escapes before the guards can catch up to him, eventually reaching Dracula's castle. He is put up for the night and at dawn, watches as Dracula kills one of his assistants (Anouska Hempel) and valiantly tries to escape, but finds Dracula's daytime resting spot. Sarah and Paul's brother Simon, (Dennis Waterman) worried that Paul hasn't been seen in a long time, head off in search of him. Their search leads them to the castle, where Dracula takes a shining to Sarah. Another of Dracula's assistants, Klove (Patrick Troughton) relates the story of Dracula to Simon, who dismisses the tale. Dracula continues to try to seduce Sarah, but when he finds that she has a cross on her necklace, Dracula leaves her be. Simon does some snooping around and learns that Paul was at the castle and gets Sarah away. Going back to town, he finds no one to help him in launching an attack on Dracula, as Simon and Sarah learn that he is a vampire. As they go off into battle, Sarah is left behind, but sneaks along anyway, as Simon battles the vampire.
The Good News: I might get lynched for this, but I believe this was Christopher Lee's best turn at Dracula. His smoothness, presence and the entire creepiness he shows off in every scene are truly a joy to watch. I also really like the way that Dracula gets resurrected in this movie. By having a vampire bat drain blood onto Dracula's ashes (for those unaware, at the end of 'Taste the Blood,' Dracula was burned) was a sight to see. It is extremely creative and is almost an unthinkable approach to resurrect him in that manner, but is simplistic and relateable to him being a vampire. The burning castle set piece in the beginning of the film is a nice scene to look at, as we see its long, elegant clock towers going up in flames, as the central body burns brightly is impressive to view. The shift towards mores sex and violence surprisingly fits the movie well. It allows for something most Hammer films don't: a body count. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a slasher, as a death occurs on the average about every twenty to twenty-five minutes. The Dracula films do need the violence to be shown, or else the full impact of the blood sucking will be lost on the viewer if they don't see the carnage Dracula has inflicted on his victim. I do believe that this was a very wise move. The whole ending was a shocker, as we watch Dracula's demise, which is a slight improvement over the previous film's ending.
The Bad News: I am getting really sick and tired of these movies that seem to think that a man with glowing red contact lenses is a scary figure, which it isn't. That whole scene was a kind of big letdown when Dracula turns to the camera after he has sucked blood to reveal his red eyes. It isn't that scary. Also, the scene where Dracula is seen scaling a wall by crawling up it was one of the most laughably bad scenes ever. It looks so ridiculous and silly that I can't believe it was even allowed into the final version of the film. The middle of the film could be seen as the weak point of the movie, as nothing of real significance happens, and it does tend to drag out a bit here with the traditional Hammer scenes, where it takes forever for something to finish out. That seems to be my real beef with Hammer films: too often they have scenes that seem to carry on forever that do absolutely nothing to get the plot going.
The Final Verdict: This may be the best of the sequels from Hammer's Dracula series, right up there with the original. It is easily Hammer's best film of the seventies and is a bona fide classic in their catalog. It deserves a decent look by any fan of classic horror film.
Rating Today, R: Graphic Violence, Adult Language, a flimsy sex scene, Nudity, and several scenes of torture
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you want to see Dr. Who getting tortured, run, don't walk, to "Scars of Dracula". The second Dr. Who, Patrick Traughton, plays Dracula's manservant in this delightfully sadistic but strangely flat Dracula film. In one fine sequence, Christopher Lee, not happy with the good Dr.'s work, whips him until he's down and out. It's an uncharacteristically vicious scene for a Hammer Drac film, but consistent with this particular entry. Story is simple. A couple arrives at Castle Dracula searching for the man's missing brother. No points for guessing what became of the poor sod. The castle exteriors here are terrible. It looks like a model shrouded in cigarette smoke. Dracula performs a spider-like climb up one of the castle's exterior walls in one spectacular sequence, and there's a spot of mystery about a room nobody can access. Unfortunately, the film, despite its sadistic tone, is very slow and boring at times, and Lee is given even less screen time as usual. I always loved the original poster art and the grim title. Shame about the pacing.
Oh boy, what can I tell you? Well, it's a sequel to many other sequels
from the Hammer House of Horror.
As I warned you in my opening: "Never wake the Count while he's asleep". You may pay the consequences by watching a harmless and almost motionless Count Dracula, much less threatening than in his heydays.
I must admit that I am reviewing it because I am a faithful follower of Christopher Lee's career and as such it's part of his resume.
Unfortunately, someone decided to make him speak in this one. Mind you, his voice is commanding as a bass and very suggestive, but Dracula seldom talks, he just commands by hypnotizing his victims.
As the story goes, a young fellow has in mind to travel and stops at Castle Dracula for a night. Wrong choice of time and place...
Very soon a lovely (and voluptuous) girl begs him for help in order to escape the Count's attentions. The guy agrees and attempts to make love to the girl who very soon grows fond of his jugular and would like to take a bite, suddenly though, Dracula appears and a blood bath starts.
Change of scene. Next morning, everything is normal, no girl, no blood, but the young guy is obsessed with the idea of destroying Dracula.
He's so stupid as to lower himself, aided by the Count's manservant, into Dracula's Crypt. Guess what? He lands up spiked as a lamp post...
From there it's up to you to guess what else happens.
The attempt as being a "Gothic" version of the tale is not enough anymore. If the younger generations of the Victorian Age, as depicted in this movie, were truly such a bunch of stumbling and idiotic morons (which obviously they weren't), no wonder I was cheering all the time for the Count.
It's a mindless chapter in the Dracula/Lee series, only suited for those who follow the actor or are absolute fans of Dracula movies and must have it in their collections.
Otherwise stick to "Horror of Dracula", "Dracula, Prince of Darkness" and "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave". And only because it's the ideal continuation of the latter one, also "Taste the Blood of Dracula". But then just put a stake through his heart and throw the carcass to the wolves...
The three last installments including "Dracula, A.D. 1972" and "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" were just pale examples of movies made for the 1968 rebellious generation who wanted to part with the past and despised any authoritative figure, including The Prince of Darkness himself...
Unfortunately for them Dracula still lives and does what he does while they just became older if not ridiculously decrepit in their utopia views. Some even went so far that they replaced the old establishment with a much more devious and ruthless one. Exactly what Dracula stands for: bloodsucking and exploitation.
Think about it, it's very emblematic.
If despite all that, you still love the blood sucking Count, then serve yourselves, but be warned, it's really what you pay for...
But not great. It is actually pretty violent and bloody compared to most HAMMER films. LEE is good as Dracula. Good Atmosphere, as always, but it does lack and shows that Hammer was going downhill. Still worth checking out though.
As a big fan of Dracula movies, I enjoyed this movie. That said, as an
objective movie viewer, I can say this film wasn't anything great. Just
Many like to rip on the later Christopher Lee Dracula film "Satanic Rites of Dracula", but I actually found that far more entertaining.
Nontheless, if you are a fan of Dracula films, this is still worth watching. Casual viewers may want to pick another Vamp flick.
A young couple is forced to tangle with the great fanged one(Christopher Lee)when they search for the young man's brother, who has been too much of a ladies man. Plenty of screams, cleavage, fang work, cleavage, lovely looking women and did I say cleavage? My favorite scene is when Lee enters the room and says "I am Dracula".(No s--t)! For vampire and 'Drac' fans this will be a kick. Other cast members:Jenny Hanley, Christopher Matthews, Dennis Waterman, Wendy Wellman and the ever present Michael Ripper.
Grotesque effects and the star presence of Christopher Lee do little more
than salve the wounds these "Scars" will leave on the average audience --
for gothic horror fans equipped with a dose of patience only. A few moments
are exciting, but the script is not subtle, its characters unconvincingly
foolish. Dracula's servant does a bit to lighten things up with memorable
acting. The plot and story are very predictable (basically the only "plot"
is a series of people coming and going from Dracula's castle, in search of
the first missing visitor).
OK direction, but more care should have been taken in editing out the boring parts (perhaps before production began). Poor results.
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