Dracula: Prince Of Darkness (1966) [31 Days of Hammer Horror Review]

With Halloween looming large at the end of the month, and Hammer Horror recently making its return to the world of comics courtesy of the fine folks at Titan Comics, we figured now was the perfect time to take a look some of the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.

So this month, Jules is planning to watch every single Hammer Horror movie and share his thoughts with you fine, horror loving people.

You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of Hammer” by CLICKING HERE.

Released: 1966
Starring: Christopher Lee, Andrew Kier, Barbara Shelley
Director: Terence Fisher

Eight long years had passed since Hammer had brought Dracula back from the dead. Eight years since their most iconic character was born, only to disappear again while Frankenstein and The Mummy would gain sequels. Sure, there was the brilliant Brides Of Dracula, but the absence of Christopher Lee was keenly felt.

That all changed in 1966, when Hammer finally brought back the Count, with the glorious Dracula: Prince Of Darkness. Even then though, they were to make us wait a little longer before he actually made his comeback…

10 years after Van Helsing, ended Dracula’s century-long reign of terror and destroy his cult; only the memory of his evil remains.

Four English tourists are traveling on the area and are warned not to visit Karlsbad by Father Sandor (Andrew Kier), but choose to ignore his advice.

They find themselves forced to take shelter in Castle Dracula after being abandoned by their terrified driver, only to find it empty but for the Count’s manservant Klove, who had plans to resurrect his master, the late Count Dracula, using the blood of one of the group.

Once reborn again, the King of the Vampires immediately turns Helen as she discovers her husband’s strung-up corpse, before setting his sights on the other two, Charles and Diana.

The pair manage to escape, altering Father Sandor who realises how grave the threat is now that Dracula is back and vows to destroy him once and for all.

Now this is how you do a sequel. A textbook example of Hammer’s Gothic horror, Prince of Darkness sees the studio firing on all cylinders.

Terence Fisher’s beautifully moody direction builds the creeping sense of dread as we spend over half the movie waiting for the arrival of its star turn, then allows the pace to pick up immeasurably, bringing out the animalistic side of Lee, who doesn’t utter a word in the whole film.

It’s a testament to Lee’s remarkable physicality once again (see his previous silent outings as Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy for how much he can do with very little), but this time he’s not a mute beast, he just has nothing to say to the mere mortals he sees as below him.

Kier’s Sandor makes a more than adequate replacement for Van Helsing. His gruff demeanour and bully frame working brilliantly in contrast to the slighter, more academic action hero played by Peter Cushing.

As the doomed Helen Kent, Barbara Shelley really shines here too, as convincing as the timid, frightened wife as she is the wanton, seductive vampire she is transformed into.

It’s impossible to praise Dracula: Prince Of Darkness too much, to be honest. Jimmy Sangster delivered one of his finest scripts and Fisher turned it into one of the real classics, not just of the Dracula series, but of Hammer Horror as a whole. Essential.

Rating: 5/5.

JULESAV The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

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