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This sequel or "Horror of Dracula" (1958)


Most Hammer fans praise the first film in the series from 1958, which was Lee's first gig as Dracula, and it is a solid entry with the typical Hammer highlights, like lush Gothic ambiance, bright colors, Lee & Cushing and bodacious women, not to mention Lee's diabolical interpretation of the Count and one of the most stunning horror scores by James Bernard. But the truncated story wasn't completely satisfactory and there were too many 50's limitations IMHO.

I prefer this sequel as it features all the Hammer hallmarks listed above, except Cushing. Some might complain about the slow first half, but I like the way the film takes its time and concentrates on the two couples, the spooky ambiance, and the build-up of suspense. Klove (Philip Latham) is a particularly creepy character with his courteous pretense. The way he resurrects the Count is a ghastly highlight.

Interestingly, Lee doesn't have all that much screen time and not one line of dialogue, so he's basically a vampire bogeyman here. But the lush Gothic atmosphere is potent and the cast shines, especially Barbara Shelley as the doomed wife of a so-"cultured"-he's-stupid husband (Charles Tingwell). And Andrew Keir as Dracula's worthy antagonist, Father Sandor, a most formidable monk.

I also appreciated the elaboration on vampire lore by Sandor (Keir). One reviewer scoffed at the idea that the undead have to be willingly allowed into a person's abode, but this fits the parallel of vampires to evil itself, which first affects a person's mindset (ideology) and THEN their behavior or lifestyle. In short, evil cannot overtake a person unless s/he willingly allows it.

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It's a toss up for me whether this is the best of Hammer's Dracula movies or 'Scars of Dracula' (1970). In 'Scars.' Lee does get to speak lines and be more of a seemingly hospitable host at his castle, more in the way that Lugosi had played him in 1931. He must have got annoyed at the lack of lines he was given as in 'Darkness.' As you say, there is a great Gothic feel in 'Darkness.

Andrew Keir does make a good vampire killer. And Philip Latham is really creepy as Klove. They use the same name, Klove, in 'Scars' for the equally creepy Patrick Troughton to play. I think that the vampire's victim always does invite the vampire in, in may movies, by making sure the window is open. So the invitation idea in 'Darkness' is not really that much of a change.

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I haven't seen "Scars of" since I was a kid, so I don't really remember it. It's on my watchlist though. All the other Hammer Dracula flicks with Christopher Lee I've seen many times. The second one I favor is "Taste the Blood of Dracula" -- which came out just before "Scars" -- due to the intriguing angle of "The Circle" of three Affluent British thrill-seekers, not to mention cutie Linda Hayden.

After that, I'd go with "Dracula has Risen from the Grave" (the sequel to "Prince of") despite its weak prologue and first act; the rest of it's great: The believable and close relationships of Paul, his father and the waitress Zena at the pub, the argument over God with the Monsignor when Paul visits his babe and how Paul ironically "sees the light" after confronting supernatural horror.

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They are some great moments from Hammer's Dracula films. I reckon that the circle of three deserved what was coming to them in 'Taste The Blood of Dracula.'

I hope you see 'Scars of Dracula' again soon. Some do say, unfairly IMO, that it's the worst of the Dracula films but I reckon that it has the best vampire destruction scene ever.

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I would've thought "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" would be cited as the worst.

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I agree. 'Satanic' was so bad that it finished off the franchise.

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