Scars of Dracula Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Studiocanal
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Written by Anthony Hinds
1970, 91 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 30th October 2017
Christopher Lee as Dracula
Dennis Waterman as Simon
Jenny Hanley as Sarah
Christopher Matthews as Paul
Patrick Troughton as Klove
Michael Gwynn as Priest
Reborn yet again thanks to the bloody dripping of a helpful bat minion, Count Dracula (the mighty Christopher Lee, slightly more enthusiastic about it than usual) embarks on a murderous rampage, terrorising the heaving bosoms of his buxom neighbours and their cheeky chappy suitors. Wait, was that Dennis Waterman?
Fleeing from the small army of a local politician (after bedding his daughter, naturally), randy bugger Paul is chased from town to the depths of Castle Dracula, where he is taken in by the Count and his booby maiden. How the mighty have fallen; the once great and influential Dracula forced to rely on stragglers to fulfill his bloodlust.
Otherwise, the story is a familiar one: slightly dim, lovelorn white man visits Castle Dracula and is seduced by his consort(s) before seeing the true nature of the beast. It makes less sense here though, without any Jonathan Harker business angle to explain why the Count is hosting random travellers now. Much of the film plays like an unnecessary retelling of Bram Stoker's original Dracula chapters. Then, as our hero disappears, Scars of Dracula decides to to it all over again, but with Dennis Waterman (who reportedly hated the film, according to the Blu-Ray's accompanying documentary).
It's too long, re-treads too much old ground and lacks a consistent protagonist for much of its running time. Nevertheless, while Scars of Dracula may not be Hammer's best film, it is one of their most entertaining. Not only is it the bloodiest and the nastiest of the Hammer Dracula films, but it coaxes an excellent performance back out of Sir Christopher Lee, having grown weary and bored with the character in previous sequels. Here his Dracula takes great glee in tearing at the throats of his victims, his eyes deep red, his fangs engorged. In the mood for it or not, Christopher Lee was always memorable in his limited screen-time as the Count and – in spite of the film's flaws – Scars of Dracula is one of his very best performances. Quite a good death too. The various horrible deaths of Dracula are among my favourite things about old Hammer horror films, and this one does not disappoint in its nasty denouement.
Structurally and tonally, Scars of Dracula is a bit of a mess, but it's an entirely worthwhile one. Not only is Lee on excellent form as the Count, but it also features a brilliantly grimy Patrick Troughton, making a banquet of the scenery and his relatively small role as Dracula's minion. It may be more Carry On than it is classy Dracula movie, but when it's this fun, who (aside from Dennis Waterman) can complain? Carry on carrying on, then.
Video and Audio:
The film polishes up beautifully for its transfer to Blu-ray, making the most of foggy Transylvania and Dracula's atmospheric castle. All that slathered-on gore pops from the screen in the brightest of reds, but it's Dracula's eyes that will stick with you, cementing this as one of Lee's most iconic turns as the vampire. Dennis Waterman, meanwhile, does not write or sing the theme tune.
Unfortunately, while the Blu-ray presentation of the main feature is gorgeous, the special features are entirely anemic; aside from the trailer, the only bonus material provided is a making of documentary, providing key history and analysis, with some wonderful anecdotes from its leading lady.