Monday, 19 November 2012

Dracula: Prince Of Darkness (1966)

The third movie from Hammer in the Dracula fold, this actually follows on more from the end of Dracula than has anything to do with The Brides Of Dracula and, as such, can be accepted almost as a direct sequel in itself.

Directed by Terence Fisher, and with Jimmy Sangster also involved, I was hoping for great things and found myself, sadly, a little disappointed. The story sees our sharp-toothed count laying on some hospitality for weary travellers while he rests in piece until, about halfway through the movie, the resurrection can occur. And what a glorious, crimson-covered resurrection it is - a definite highlight in a movie I found somewhat lacking in other areas. Once Christopher Lee is back on screen it's all the usual Hammer style (i.e. keep distressed damsels safe while the silent Count tries to get his wicked way, in a manner of speaking). And there's a memorable finale that fans will recall when it appears, if not beforehand, though I won't spoil it here.

There's no Van Helsing this time around. Instead, that role is taken over by the presence of Father Sandor (played by Andrew Keir). Keir is okay in the role but I always feel, just my personal preference, that any of the Hammer Dracula or Frankenstein movies not featuring Peter Cushing automatically start with a deficit to make up. As for the rest of the cast; Lee is as good as ever with his mute performance (all bared teeth and staring, bloodshot eyes), Philip Latham is excellent as the Count's manservant and thoroughly dodgy bloke, Thorley Walters is quite amusing as a Renfield-ish type who resides in the Father's care and Barbara Shelley gets some good screen moments in the latter half of the movie. Nobody else really makes much of an impression, to be honest. Suzan Farmer is a little adorable cutie with little to do except look in peril while Francis Matthews and Charles Tingwell play the buttoned down, stiff-upper-lipped lead gents just fine.

There's just something missing here and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. The pacing isn't a problem because, despite Dracula himself not appearing till round about the halfway mark, we have the usual Hammer moments including a tavern scene, a scared coach driver, the exploration of a seemingly empty castle, etc. The script isn't that memorable, the direction seems rather "safe" (that halfway highlight aside) and everything just stands out by dint of it not standing out. Maybe I expected too much but maybe, as I personally feel to be the case, this is simply one of the average Hammer horrors. After all, not every one can be a winner eh.


This is yet another Hammer title available in this wonderful, bargain box set -

No comments:

Post a Comment