Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Scars of Dracula (1970)

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Starring: Christopher Lee, Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley

More Info: IMDB

Plot: Brought back from his dead mouldering remains, Count Dracula once again spreads his evil from his mountaintop castle. When libertine Paul Carlson disappears one night, his more sober brother Simon and his girlfriend trace him to the area, discovering a terrified populace. Thrown out of the inn, they make their way, like Paul before them, towards the sinister castle and its undead host.


My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? If I've seen everything else...I guess so.

#43 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

Oh, boy! They start this one off with a bang. We last left The Count dead on his back in a dilapidated church. As with most of his deaths he's reduced to dust, red dust. A giant vampire bat flies by and drools blood onto the ashes, fresh from a young beautiful woman from the nearby village. He's baaaaaack.

When the limp dead body of said woman is brought to the town inn, the innkeeper gets the menfolk all riled-up, see, so they head for the castle to burn it down, which makes sense since IT'S MADE OF STONE! Meanwhile, the womenfolk and the kinder are taken to the church where they'll be protected. The angry masculine mob torch the castle and return to the church to discover ALL OF THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN HAVE BEEN SLAUGHTERED BY BATS!!! FUCKING SWEET!

OK, fun's over. It's downhill, for the most part, from here. First of all, there are WAY too many fake-ass bats flying around. There's some in the trailer. Ugh. They'd have been so much better off with some hand drawn animated ones instead. Yeah, you'd be able to tell but it's better than rubber bats bobbing up and down on a string. There are more rubber bats in this thing than a summer camp for Jerry's Kids. It's obvious that the budgets for these are getting smaller. The matte paintings for the castle are worse than before and the set decoration in D's castle is more garish and cheap than a yard sale at Elizabeth Taylor's.

EEK! A BAT! OK, this one looks pretty cool but some of the others don't. Trust me.

James Bernard's score isn't up to what he's done before but it's still better than some of the other composers' output for the studio. And, as always with Hammer, the performances by most of the cast are very, very strong.

Nice crucitits, I mean fix.

And not since the first film in '58 has Lee's Dracula had so much to say. Before this one I keep thinking how it's a shame that Dracula doesn't talk much. In SCARS I kind of wished they hadn't broken the trend. It's just that what he says isn't that interesting. He FINALLY gets to speak and it's completely uneventful but for the fact he's got a lot of lines. Frustrating. We get Dracula the host, not Dracula the bloodthirsty badass motherfucker from Transylvania.

Can I get you anything else, my Dear? A foot pillow, perhaps?

The one thing that I remember from seeing this years ago is the absolute coolest scene in the entire flick. Dracula's coffin in now in a part of one of the castle's towers that is only accessible from the outside window and that window is a few hundred feet above a deadly ravine. Stranded for the night and wanting to escape, Paul ties several drapes together to form a rope he can climb down to that very window below as it's his only means of escape. Once in, D's caretaker, Klove (played by an early Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton) pulls the drapes up leaving Paul stranded. He searches the small area and realizes he's stuck. What's left but to open the coffin to see what's in it. Surprise! Now he's PROPER FUCKED as Dracula is resting comfortably. We don't need for him to wake up for us to know he's not getting out of this film alive. At some point later in the film we see D climb the walls upwards outside that window (a nod to the original novel, one of a few in SCARS). What a great way to protect himself.

Another neat scene has Simon, Paul's brother, and his girlfriend, Sarah, go to Dracula's castle looking for Paul. Dracula gazes into Sarah's eyes (right there in front of Simon), walks over to her, gently picks her up and walks out of the room! With anyone else that would be a sign of how big his balls are to pull off something like that but this is Dracula and so he's just being his badass self. That was cool and Simon is powerless to do anything. I bet his manhood shriveled to the size of a California raisin, and not the larger, singing kind, either.

...I'll be taking this...

Ooh, and there's another where Klove is having to dispose of a body by chopping it into pieces and he's whistling the entire time. After all, he probably has to do this sort of thing all the time and it's no different than dusting at this point. Nice touch.

And don't get me started on Dracula's death at the end. It's the lamest of the bunch. The writers must've been asleep at the wheel on this one. Surely they could've come up with something better. His being caught on fire was a great visual but the way he got there is uninspiring to say the least.

On the whole, this is not as strong as the previous films and outside of BRIDES OF DRACULA, it's the weakest of the sequels. That doesn't mean it's not worth watching, it's just not going to get as much play. From this point on, I haven't seen any of the rest. Please get better, please get better, please get better.

Here's the list of the Hammer Dracula films:

Horror of Dracula (1958)
The Brides of Dracula (1960)
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969)
Scars of Dracula (1970)
Dracula AD 1972 (1972)
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

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