Dracula – Prince of Darkness Review: Silent But Deadly

Dracula: Prince of Darkness on Blu-ray Available From 5th March

Sparkly Twilight vampires might be all the rage right now but you just can’t beat a good old fashioned Dracula movie.  Hammer’s classic vampire movie, Dracula Prince of Darkness, is released on Blu-ray this month and thanks to a fantastic restoration job, the lure of the legendary bloodsucker is as strong as ever.  

The Kents are Alan and Charles, two well-to-do brothers and their wives, Helen and Diana, travelling in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains.  As the classic Dracula tropes dictate they of course stop off at a tavern only to be warned that they should avoid visiting a particular castle (guess whose?).   Ignoring the advice, the Kents continue on to their next predictable trope of being abandoned at said castle by a superstitious coach driver who refuses to go further.

Deciding to venture into the castle only confirms Helen’s growing concern that something is very wrong as a table is laid, ready and waiting for them.  As is the über creepy manservant, Klove, who seems to be running the castle singlehandedly but hasn’t been spending his time perfecting his hosting skills; he’s been waiting for stranded tourists to help him resurrect his master. Dracula is soon very much alive and kicking and the Kents must avoid succumbing to the thrall of the Count in order to make it through the night.

Christopher Lee’s return to the series is a welcome one as he was absent from the previous movie, The Brides of Dracula, so Prince of Darkness is really the sequel that horror fans had been waiting for.  The most notable difference in his performance is that he has no lines in Prince, which gives the character an unpredictable quality and keeps the film from falling into campier territory.

Prince is an enjoyable instalment but in the run up to Dracula’s resurrection, there’s not a whole lot going on; if you fast-forwarded for a little while, you wouldn’t miss much.  And although the plot is very traditional and you can see plot points coming ten minutes before they arrive, catching the classic clichés will be half the fun for Hammer horror fans. Casual fans and collectors alike will appreciate the clarity of the Blu-ray image and the great extras: an in-depth look at the filming, a Christopher Lee-centric episode of world of Hammer, behind the scenes 8mm footage, restoration comparison and a couple of original trailers. 

The film series as a whole deals mostly with traditional vampire lore but Prince adds much needed violence and a sense of ritual, particularly in the resurrection scene.  Even with the comically old-fashioned technicolour blood, it’s great to see a classic Dracula movie with some bite (sorry about that)

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