This is the "sequel" of sorts of Terence Fisher's classic HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) with Christopher Lee as the Count. Either Lee didn't want to do another Dracula picture (but he sure came back for 5 or 6 more as the 60's came to a close) or they couldn't figure out how to bring Dracula back since they killed his ass in the first one (but they sure figured it out for a whole shitload of Drac pics over the next 14 years!). This one REALLY needs Lee. Peel does a fine job but Lee had that look and charisma that was so engaging in the Drac pics he did.
The story starts off slow and I REALLY started to get bored with the doe-eyed Mariaane (Monlaur) hoping she would get killed or take us to the vampire castle where somebody else gets killed. Fortunately this old battle-axe of a broad, Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt, looking like Alec Guinness in drag), takes her to her castle. Great. Now we get to see someboby get whacked, right? Wrong. This train'sheadin' for snoozeville and my ticket says I've got to stay to the end. The Battle-Axe's son, the Baron (Peel), is set free by Marianne and FINALLY someone gets it BUT IT'S OFF CAMERA and it's talked about after-the-fact!!! WTF?
It's at this point Peter Cushing (Van Helsing) shows up to save the day but even his superb performance can't save this picture. The only thing I really dug about this, besides Cushing, was the Count's death (by Van Helsing) although it was kind of weak (The Count has fallen off a windmill and Van Helsing lunges to the dormant windmill and turns it to look like a cross, the shadow of which is cast onto the Count who then dies).
As always the look and feel of the Hammer horror movies is top-notch Gothic goodness but it's the way-too-slow pacing and lack of action that killed it for me. Composer James Bernard must've been too busy to score this one (too bad as his scores often elevated his pictures) 'cause they got Malcolm Williamson instead. He does an OK job but he's not Bernard.
Last year I watched most of the Hammer Dracula flicks but they're all just a jumbled conglomerate in my mush-head brain. I'm looking forward to the third Hammer vampire flick, THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1963) as I recall this one's pretty good, although neither Lee norCushing are in it.