Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dracula on the Prowl Again!!

Dracula, Prince Of Darkness 1966
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Jimmy Sangster
Starring Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelly, Andrew Keir, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer, Charles Tingwell and Thorley Walter

After 1958's Horror of Dracula Christopher Lee refused for 8 years to don the fangs and cape, so Hammer had to make other vampire films like The Kiss of the Vampire and the great Brides of Dracula to counter that effect. He finally came back to the fold with 1966's Dracula, Prince of Darkness and it was well worth the wait. Lee is still dynamic as hell as the Count and Matthews is a good replacement to Cushing's Van Helsing. The film has all the requisite gothic trappings and pulls them off flawlessly. From the opening scene with the burial of a supposed vampire victim until the exciting conclusion the viewer is hooked.
The plot basics are this, we open with a funeral procession, but it is not your typical procession as the priest is about to put a stake through the dead woman's heart, when a priest comes buy and stops him. It has been 10 years since Dracula was destroyed and the people are still held in fear by his presence. Then we meet 2 vacationing couples traveling abroad and they stop at a inn and meet the same priest (Matthews) who tells them not to stop at a castle on their way, they pretty much ignore his advice and through some weird occurrences stay at the castle. When one of the couples wake up in the morning they discover one couple is gone. The couple is spooked and decide to leave, but the husband (Matthews) decides to search the castle and finds his brother dead as he was used in the practice to return Dracula (Lee) to life. He fights for his wife and narrowly escapes and runs into the priest and then thy hatch a plan to beat Dracula, who is still hot on his trail, as he hungers for his wife. This leads to a showdown at the foot of Dracula's Castle.
This is a great film, it is brimming with atmosphere and suspense. The direction by Fisher is as always great. He really is the master of Hammer's gothic films. The script by Sangster is great, Lee never utters a word but he does not have to, you can see what he says just in his eyes and his movements. The cast is great, Lee as always is the epitome of Count Dracula and the film has a great foil against him with Keir. He is funny and heroic. There are some good SFX scenes especially during the reconstitution of Dracula and the staking of his bride. The music as always is haunting and cues the events of the film perfectly. This is a great Dracula film and one of the best of the Hammer series to boot. I highly recommend this one.
This one gets 5 out of 5 stars

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