Starring: Christopher Lee, Patrick Troughton, Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley
Directed by: Roy Ward Baker
Written by: Anthony Hinds (screenplay) (as John Elder)
Original Year of Release: 1970
Distributor: Scream Factory
Run Time: 1h 36min
Scream Factory has been satisfying my itch for new (to me) classic horror films that have long fallen out distribution. More often than not I come across a documentary or internet list of horror films, add a few more to my watch list, and then check to see if they’re available on Amazon. If they are, which is seldom, they were released decades ago on DVD and cost an exuberant amount of money. Enter Shout! Factory’s horror division, Scream Factory, who has been re-releasing a majority of the Hammer Films with stunning transfers and new special features. Today, AFJ looks back at MGM’s Scars of Dracula (1970).
Hammer Films really are a Universe unto themselves. Much like Universal Monsters, Hammer’s villains and the occasional hero are always played by the same actors. However, this creates a bit of a dilemma when they change it up from time to time. I usually just go with it and know that Christopher Lee is generally Dracula and if there is a Van Helsing, he will be played by Peter Cushing. This time the Lord of Darkness runs unchecked as Van Helsing is absent from his story. Another odd factor to the Hammer Monster Universe is that different studios released sequels. Unlike in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this was never a problem or an issue.
Before I get too deep into Scars of Dracula, I wanted to address one other thing about Hammer Films’ monster Universe. If you are unaware of the time or location in which the film takes place (year and country), don’t overthink it. Scars of Dracula is a keen of example of this. We have young attractive British actors who’s clothes and hairstyles do not fit the era in which the story takes place. The clothes are close, but the hair is clearly en vogue with late 1960’s. The actors, as I said, are British but the place and culture is clearly German. So when the Burgermeister’s police force arrives and they all have Cockney accents… well, you have been warned.
Scars of Dracula, which takes place between Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), is an MGM film released between two Warner Bros. pictures. The film initially finds Dracula dead. Not uncommon, but what is strange is how he is resurrected. A bat enters his castle and spits blood on his ashes. This brings the Count (Christopher Lee) back to wreck havoc again. Scars of Dracula is rated R and rightfully so. Here, the Count attacks a full church of women waiting in hiding as the men of a small German village venture out to rid the world of him. It really pulls no punches and this town’s female population is decimated.
Enter our love story, which always needs to be in a Dracula film, of Simon (Dennis Waterman) who is courting the lovely Sarah (Jenny Hanley). A friend of their’s has gone missing, Paul (Christopher Matthews), and the two venture out to Dracula’s domain to find him. Of course, they are unaware of this evil and willing accept an invitation from Dracula himself to spend the night. What’s odd here is that Dracula’s servant, Klove (played by Doctor’s Who Patrick Troughton), is the lynch pin to the story. He becomes the one obsessed with Sarah instead of Dracula, who is more interested in his next meal than adding another beauty to his conquests.
Scars of Dracula, as a film, starts off really strong. There is a ton of action and horror as the villagers rally to eliminate Dracula. Our introduction to Simon, Paul, and Sarah sets up an interesting love triangle, but then drops it out of the story as Paul has clearly marked his territory on Sarah later. All this happens despite Simon obviously being in the “friend zone” three scenes earlier. It’s this leap and the retreading of ground by Simon and Sarah, trying to find Paul in the village, that drags the Scars of Dracula out. Anyone can clearly see that when Lee is on the screen the film picks up the pace again. Sadly, giving these up and coming young stars more screen time has made future generations notice the lack of Lee’s signature character over plot and character development.
Again, Scream Factory has given fans a stunning transfer, and the chance to watch this film on Blu-ray, for a reasonable price. If you are fan of Scars of Dracula you will appreciate the new inside look that Scream Factory has provided in “Blood Rites: Inside SCARS OF DRACULA”. Another fine Scream Factory addition to your already crowded horror shelf.
SCARS OF DRACULA Blu-ray Special Features
- Presented in two aspect ratios – 1.66:1 and 1.85:1
- NEW Audio Commentary with filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr and film historian Randall Larson
- Blood Rites: Inside SCARS OF DRACULA
- Audio Commentary with star Christopher Lee and director Roy Ward Baker, moderated by Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn
- Theatrical Trailers
- Still Gallery
1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1 & 1.66:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono/English Subtitles/1970/ Approximate Feature Running Time: +/- 95 Minutes