As The Woman in Black breaks box office records its safe to say that Hammer is most definitely back. What better way for them to celebrate than to release a slate of restored classics cleaned up and ported onto Blu-Ray to remind everyone why the name Hammer has always been synonymous with horror.
The first to appear in all its remastered glory is Dracula Prince of Darkness, the third in Hammer’s series of Dracula films including Horror of Dracula and Brides of Dracula – all staring Christopher Lee playing the blood sucking count in one of his most famous roles.
But 10 years later, four English travellers are journeying through the Carpathian woods. En-route they meet Father Sandor (Quatermass’s Andrew Keir) a religious man not afraid to fight for his faith, be it with words or a weapon. He advises the two couples to avoid the castle at Karlsbad, a warning they ignore when things go wrong on their journey.
Searching for shelter, they end up in the creepy castle where they are greeted by a mysterious butler named Klove who seemingly has only their interests and comfort in mind, offering them food and a room for the night on behalf of his missing master.
However it’s his employer’s malicious malignant master plan that he is in fact enacting, lulling the unwitting victims into a false sense of security so that he can use them to bring about Dracula’s resurrection through their deaths.
Having avoiding the character for several years, Dracula Prince of Darkness was Lee’s return to playing the vampire lord. He clearly relishes the role, dominating every scene he is in, even though he only appears after an hour and has no dialogue.
The lack of lines for Lee is perplexing and put down by screenwriter Jimmy Sangster to the fact that “Vampires don’t chat. So I didn’t write him any dialogue.”
Conflictingly it is explained by Lee as being due to bad lines: “I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much mistaken.”
Either way it works with his silence simply increasing the animalistic side of his character as Lee crafts a creature somehow savage and brutal yet regal and noble at the same time.
The rest of the cast are also excellent, headed up by Andrew Keir as the gun toting Abbott with Barbara Shelley, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews and Charles Tingwell making up the fear ridden foursome who stumble into Dracula’s lair.
A classic horror movie with bright red blood, blood curdling screams and a screaming story full of superstition and sexual repression Dracula Prince of Darkness is Hammer in its heyday, and this brilliant Blu-Ray release is the best way to watch it – remastered in High Definition and packed with excellent extras.