Scars Of Dracula
Scars Of Dracula is not a good film. There, I've said it. It's also (unfortunately)
the "archetypal" Hammer Horror, with bad SFX, hammy acting (even
from Lee), Carry On-style humour, gaudy sets, a distinct lack of horror,
I say archetypal not because I don't know what it means, but because this
is the way most non-fans see Hammer - all busty wenches, burgermeisters,
tomato ketchup and red contact lenses. Which is shame when you consider
that the company had just brought us the far superior Taste The Blood
Of Dracula and had certified classics like Twins Of Evil waiting in the
The film doesn't even help itself - the scene were Paul is chased from
the burgermeister's house after deflowering the fat git's daughter is
possibly the worst scene in any horror film ever (even Robin Askwith would
turn his nose up at such low-brow shenanigans). And whoever decided that
bats would feature so much in the script without bothering to see if they
could make them appear remotely realistic needed his head examining (with
The film begins with one of said bats puking blood over Dracula's remains,
which reconstitute themselves into a fully-clothed Dracula. The bat then
starts squeaking at the Count, Lee listening intently as if to say: "What's
that you say, Batty? Is someone trapped down the well? I'd better fetch
the sheriff..." Of course he doesn't, that would be silly. Instead,
he goes off and kills some busty wench, the scars on her neck alerting
us that this film is called Scars Of Dracula.
The body is taken to the local pub (of course), where landlord Michael
Ripper (yay!) gets all worked up much quicker than usual. "We know
where the evil lies!" He shouts. "We must free ourselves - now!"
The priest is there, too, but his warnings that "Your violence will
only lead to more violence" go unheeded. Peasants.
Of course, the sight of villagers approaching the castle, flaming torches
aloft, before 88 minutes into the film is quite possibly a first - but
before you can applaud the film makers for going against our expectations
we're treated to Ripper's hilariously bad example of how not to get into
a castle. "Open the door! I've something for you! I'm quite alone!
Luckily Klove (Dracula's servant, played this time by the ever wonderful
Patrick Troughton) obviously hasn't seen this kind of film before, and
actually lets them in. As the castle burns around them, neither Klove
or Big D seem particularly bothered. No-one stops to wonder why...
The reason, it appears, is because a grand total of three (count 'em)
rubbery bats have laid waste to every woman and child in the village,
who had holed up in the church for "protection". The (strangely
quiet and unaffected) men find their loved ones scattered around the pews
sporting a variety of gouges, scrapes and hanging-out eyeballs. Oops.
"The devil has won..." and we're only 10 minutes into the film.
As blood drips onto the church candles (there's plenty of it smeared on
the walls, too) we cut to the candles on Sarah's birthday cake. "Now
she can eat that cake" says a fat bastard, licking his lips in anticipation.
Sarah (played by Jenny "Magpie" Hanley and showing a lot of
chest) is going out with Simon (Dennis Waterman), but oddly loves his
brother, the philandering Paul. Paul is late for the party, as he is busy
knocking up the aforementioned burgermeister's daughter. Cue close up
of sign reading "Never put off til tomorrow what you can do today",
Carry On music and single entendres so dire they don't even deserve to
appear on this site. Anyway, he makes his escape "Oversexed young
puppy - a spell in prison will cool him down!" and makes a speedy
entrance to the party, followed by an even speedier exit into a carriage,
the horses promptly bolting and carrying him out into the forest.
Lost but finding a village, we're treated to more of his chat-up lines
when the local barmaid-cum-bike takes a shine to him.
"What about a bed? I don't mind... sharing... I don't want to get
you into trouble..."
"I won't let you."
"I'll be off as soon as my head hits the pillow."
"I've heard that one before..." etc etc ad nauseum.
Enter the landlord, who soon sees through his pathetic "charm"
and boots him out. The young rogue finds a hearse and decides to take
a kip (like you would), waking up in the castle grounds. After nearly
falling off the battlements (clumsy) he's invited in by Goth chick Tania
(Anouska Hempel) who promptly introduces him to Dracula (so he wasn't
killed in the fire - shock).
After Paul's gone to bed, Dracula has a quick munch on Tania, and she
promptly whisks off to Paul's abode, imperiously commanding him: "Love
Never one to resist such an offer, Paul gets down to some sweaty fumblings
(gallantly keeping on his red M&S undies, mind) until their post coital
bliss is ruined by an angry Dracula and his big knife (yes, knife - since
when has Dracula stabbed people to death? It rather defeats the point
- especially as Tania is a vampire anyway).
Realising he's in deep shit, Paul makes his escape - but only manages
to end up trapping himself in Dracula's crypt (nice one). Meanwhile, brother
Simon and the lovely Sarah are busy looking for him - and they're soon
at the castle. Klove (who's fallen for Sarah after discovering her photo
amongst Paul's possessions) saves her from some poisoned broth(once again
- eh?) and the two escape back to the village, where Ripper tells them:
"Go back to where you came from... we want no trouble here..."
and the priest explains how the church was "once vilely used"
(some understatement there, methinks).
Dracula gives Klove a good whipping with a pink-hot sword (for the third
time - eh? Will he not use his fangs once in this pile of crap?) for letting
them escape, but he needn't worry, Simon's on his way back, ready for
the final discovery of what happened to his brother and the climactic
Scars Of Dracula is, like its stablemate Horror Of Frankenstein, truly
dreadful in every way. That makes it enjoyable the first time round, but
it's ultimately an empty experience. Lee is uncharacteristically dreadful
as Dracula: "The cross!" and the lack of logic is astonishing.
Watch it yourself and ask these questions:
Why does Dracula leave Paul after stabbing Tania?
How does he manage to kill Tania (a vampire) by stabbing her with a dagger?
Why does he try to poison Sarah, instead of just killing her?
Why do all the villagers fear the castle, but seem quite happy to let
all and sundry wander up there?
I'll tell you why - plot expediency. And it's a bad, bad thing when that
Scars of Dracula (1970)
Director: Roy Ward Baker Writer(s): Anthony Hinds (as John Elder),
Bram Stoker (novel Dracula)
Cast: Christopher Lee - Dracula, Dennis Waterman - Simon Carlson, Jenny
Hanley - Sarah Framsen, Patrick Troughton - Klove, Michael Ripper - Landlord,
Michael Gwynn - The Priest, Wendy Hamilton - Julie, Christopher Matthews - Paul
Carlson, Anouska Hempel - Tania, Delta Lindsay - Alice, burgomaster's daughter,
Bob Todd - Burgomaster, David Leland - First Policeman, Richard Durden - Second
Policeman, Toke Townley - Man with Cart, Margo Boht - Maria, landlord's wife,
Olga Anthony - Girl At Party, Clive Barrie, Morris Bush - Farmer, George Innes