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Scars of Dracula (1970)
4th Feb 07
Everything goes wrong for young stud Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) when the events of one particular evening sees him staying the night at the castle of one Mr. Dracula. Paul is never seen again.
Concerned brother Simon (Dennis Waterman) and lady friend - and possible shag - Sarah Framsen (Jenny Hanley) go looking for Paul and end up doing battle with the infamous Count.
Better than expected although essentially still a retreat of the same formula – people venture into Dracula’s castle and then end up on the insatiable vamp’s menu – director Roy Ward Baker’s Scars of Dracula also makes enough suitable nods to the source material by Bram Stoker to make the whole thing actually feel like a proper Dracula movie….sometimes. Gasp! - as Dracula scales the outside of the castle walls! Listen as little snippets of dialogue from the source novel are spoken by the cast! Go “Oooh” as a coach takes the occupant on a mysterious journey!
Scars of Dracula is the last of the six movies in Hammer’s Dracula catalogue and is considered by some critics to be a very-loose sequel to its predecessor Taste the Blood of Dracula. Given that Dracula had disintegrated at that movie’s finale only for viewers to now be shown that there were actually remains at the start of this movie most critics got huffy with the lack of continuity. No, the critics didn’t like the movie. At all! Not one bit!
Scars of Dracula is widely considered to be one of the worst Hammer movies EVER! Even the director and lead thespian Mr. Lee have dismissed the film, not a first for Mr. Lee we know, but is it really that bad? Or are stuffy critics being far too academic in their approach to assessing a cheap quickie that was released in some markets as part of a double bill with The Horror of Frankenstein? Sure it’s familiar but aren’t most sequels, and Scars still remains fun by upping the blood and stuff for a changing audience at the time.
There is a nice amount of the red stuff splashed about the screen as well as a higher quota of revealing flesh, both of which are pleasing for the more discerning bloodhound / perv. Christopher Lee doesn’t seem tired in the role which is remarkable given this is the fifth time he played the role for Hammer by now and he is even back to speaking! Speaking about um, speaking, poor old Jenny Hanley, who plays the curvy Sarah Framsen, had the indignity of having all her lines dubbed! How dare they do that to a former Magpie presenter? If her voice was good enough for TV’s Magpie then it is jolly well good enough for Scars of Dracula!
Fans of dodgy effects will get a kick and a few laughs out of Dracula’s latest assistant. No, we’re talking of Patrick Troughton’s overly bushy-browed assistant Klove, another nice performance from the former Doctor Who, but the unconvincing winged beastie that we first see resurrect Dracula at the start. The beastie in question is a bat and a bloody obvious puppet bat at that. Whether the bat be dropping dollops of blood that looks like the lumpy red powder paint we used at first school, or attacking a cowardly priest on church grounds, the puppet bat is an entertainment tour de force for all the wrong reasons stealing each scene it flaps noisily into.
For those bores who like pointing out during a film any vaguely familiar face and telling you what else they did will be thrilled to have for this occasion a very fresh-faced Dennis Waterman who went on to star in TV’s The Sweeney and Minder. Listen to that girlie voice he puts on, so not the hard man image he went on to inhabit for the Seventies and early Eighties TV. Director Ward Baker considered Waterman a bad choice for the film but had to cast him as it was Hammer’s wish. It’s not hard to see why Ward Baker objected but he’s so hammy it’s hard not to be entertained by him.
Don’t listen to the academics and their uptight opinion, get a six pack of Stella in and enjoy!
Extras – commentary by bore Christopher Lee and the film’s director Roy Ward Baker plus a Stills and Poster gallery and the movie’s trailer which rather stupidly shows that daft bat-on-a-string.
Versions The DVD version reviewed was taken from the Ultimate Hammer Collection Box Set. See our earlier news story for full details of the 21 films included in the set.