Scars of Dracula

Starring: Christopher Lee, Dennis Waterman and Jenny Hanley
Warner Home Video
RRP: 7.99
Certificate: 15
Available 11 October 2004

Count Dracula is reconstituted when blood falls on to his remains from the mouth of a vampire bat. In retribution against his evils the nearby villagers decide to raid his castle. Pushing aside his manservant, they set fire to several rooms but fail to find the fiend himself. When they return to the village it is to discover a bloodbath at the church, where the women had congregated thinking themselves safe. Sarah is celebrating her birthday at a high class party with Simon, her aspiring fiancee. But his brother Paul is an enigma to her. Paul escapes from a scandal using a runaway carriage which dumps him in the woods. After being shunned at the village he travels to the castle, unaware of its roots. Dracula stabs his own woman cohabitant to death after she sleeps with Paul, but Paul is soon trapped in the castle. Sarah and Simon look for Paul and soon trace him to the castle...

Scars from 1970 is the last of four loosely linked Hammer Dracula tales starring Christopher Lee. The continuity is, at best tenuous, which is of course as it should be. The horror element is upped considerably for this one. There's a stabbing to death, an implied rather than seen sawing-up of a body, a mass slaughter of women, an impaling, a human conflagration, and several bat attacks.

Aside from the ever-commanding Lee there are several cast names here you might recognise. Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley, a young and beautiful Kate O'Mara, and Michael Ripper. It's always great to see Patrick Troughton in something, and here he plays Clove, Dracula's manservant.

I liked the idea of Dracula sleeping in his coffin during the day in a walled-up room which only opens on to a window with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet. It's good security, and a prison for anyone else without a rope from the room above. If you can overlook the certainty that Waterman learned his craft after this production (his expression is openly blank throughout, whether doing angry, scared or determined) Scars of Dracula is a highly enjoyable film which even stands up quite well today.

Ty Power

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