Dracula: Prince of Darkness Review

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is an odd film. Christopher Lee is back as the titular Count but his role is reduced to a silent stalker like a Michael Myers or Jason. The actual plot is as cliché as it comes too, focusing on a unit of four ending up taking refuge in Dracula’s castle and getting picked off. Still… is it good to watch anyway?

Synopsis:

English tourists the Kents – Diana, Charles, Helen, and Alan – choose to visit Karlsbad but are abandoned by their fear-stricken coach driver two kilometers away from their destination as night approaches. Finding themselves in view of a castle, the Kents are taken there by a driverless carriage and discover a dining table set for four people and their bags unpacked in the bedrooms…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Christopher Lee spouts one of his only lines in the film: “Hssssargh!”. It’s a classic!

If you’re looking for a basic cheesy horror film then “Prince of Darkness” is a good one to go for. As the synopsis mentions the outline of the plot is a family of four ending up in Dracula’s castle and are waited on by Dracula’s apparent butler Klove (Philip Latham) but it’s really a ploy as Klove leads Alan Kent (Charles Tingwell) down to the crypt, kills him and pours his blood on the ashes of Dracula, restoring the count to life. It’s not long before Helen Kent (Barbara Shelley) is lured to Dracula and becomes his first victim, and soon Charles and Diana Kent (Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer) leg it away from the castle and into the woods… before Charles comes back to check on his missing family members and Diana is lured back and then attacked by the vampire Helen. They ward Dracula away with some crosses before escaping the castle… erm, again.

It’s here they meet Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) who is aware of the Vampire issues in the local area and takes them to his abbey… which then a few hours later is assaulted by Dracula, Helen and Klove, and while Sandor is able to stake and kill Helen Dracula mesmerises Diana and escapes with her (after a disturbing scene where he cuts his chest and tries to get her to drink his blood, a scene apparently from the original book! Who would’ve thought?) Charles and Sandor give chase and Dracula ends up in the middle of a frozen lake, where Sandor and Charles then shoot the ice underneath the titular Prince of Darkness and kill him by drowning him, I guess? Freezing him maybe? Apparently vampires are weak to running water according to Sandor, so maybe that as well? Either way he’s been defeated once more…

The Bad:

“What an unexpectedly lovely evening. I can’t imagine anything bad happening at all!”

It’s safe to say without Peter Cushing giving this his all the film has fallen back to generic B movie, made worse by Christopher Lee not uttering a word. Whether this is due to the script not calling for it or Lee refusing to speak a word of the original script, either way it does damage the film and reduces it to a standard run-around with a lot of wonky acting. Not bad if that’s all you’re after, but certainly not worthy of any high praise…

Overall Thoughts:

Father Sandor wonders if working for Dracula would afford him some more expensive clothes…

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a pretty standard affair. The script is generic, the acting wonky and the titular character reduced to a mute monster. That being said the sets are nice and if all your after is a cliché B horror movie then at least it is a good example, it’s not so bad its off-putting or anything, it’s an entertaining 80-odd minutes, just not one that’s worth shouting about…

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