Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Return Of The Tall White Count

It took Hammer eight years to come up with a direct sequel to 'Dracula' (1958), mainly because star Christopher Lee decided that he didn't want to become typecast and refused to play the role again. Hammer went on making non-Dracula vampire films, of course, and Lee slowly realised that it was better to be a typecast starring actor than a non-typecast supporting actor and eventually decided to don the cape and the blood red contacts once again in the brilliantly titled 'Dracula, Prince Of Darkness'.  

The plot is simplicity itself. Dracula is dead, well, sort of, so his faithful servant Klove lures four British holiday makers to Carlsbad Castle where he immediately kills one of them, hangs him over a coffin full of Drac dust, and cuts his throat. The resulting transformation scene is superbly done, with bubbling blood turning into bone, then sinew, then flesh, then...well, have a look for yourself...

From here on in, it all kicks off: shrewish, frumpy Barbara Shelley is bitten and transformed into a slinky bite happy bat lady; crazy Thorley Walters starts hearing theremin music and receiving long distance transmissions from the Count, and shouty monk and beardy vampire hunter Father Shandor (Andrew Keir) loads his gun, saddles up and rides to the rescue with Francis 'Captain Scarlet' Matthews. It's all very exciting and fast moving, which actually makes up for the creaky hour of exposition that preceded it.

Dracula doesn't say a word throughout, and Christopher Lee claims that this is because the dialogue was so bad he simply refused to lower himself to say it. According to script writer Jimmy Sangster, however, he didn't give him any lines in the first place. I know who I believe.

So, how does Dracula cop it in the end of this one? He drowns. Apparently, vampires can be killed by running water. Fancy that. Mind you, I bet he'll be back, he's nothing if not persistent.         

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