At this point, I’ve seen a number of renditions of the tale of Dracula. From the Universal Studios’ classic take on the monster to Francis Ford Coppola’s iteration many years later, each adaptation has their own subtle twists on the original Bram Stoker novel. Terence Fisher’s 1966, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, is no different, with its own brand of Gothic horror in the great Hammer tradition.
Four English tourists arrive in the Carpathian Forest on their journey, which they had originally planned as a trip to simply ‘broaden their minds.’ After ignoring Father Sandor’s warnings, the group decides to stay the night at the mysterious castle of the late Count Dracula, where things quickly go awry. With the help of his loyal servant, Klove, Dracula is able to rise from the dead once more, claiming as many victims as he can.
Although this isn’t a straight forward re-telling of Bram Stoker’s story of Dracula, there are plenty of similarities to be had. The characters in Fisher’s vampire film, Charles and Diana Kent and even Ludwig, can all be compared to the original story’s Johnathan and Mina Harker and R.M. Renfield, respectively. The names may have changed, but the likeness of each character is still very evident.
It goes without saying that the acting in this film is very good. Though I’ve only seen a few Hammer films, I always compare the acting to that of the classic stage performers. These Gothic horror films are nothing like the low-budget films you see flooding the horror genre today; The acting is always top quality and with Christopher Lee in the forefront of the cast, it doesn’t get much better.
The amount of blood displayed in this film may seem rather tame compared to what we’ve all grown accustomed to over the years, but for a film in the 60’s, I can imagine this being quite a sight. For instance, the offering of Alan Kent’s lifeline to the ashes of Dracula utilizes quite a few buckets of blood, I’d imagine. This scene alone could have caused much uproar during the film’s original release, I’m sure.
If you are a fan of the classic movie monsters from back in the day, Hammer films, or Gothic horror in general, you should definitely check out Dracula: Prince of Darkness. It may not be the best film in the Hammer catalog, but it is certainly entertaining and a true horror classic.
I give this film 3 bundles of garlic out of 5.