Within the past year I have become quite a junkie of Hammer's horror movies. I have known of these films for years, but never really watched any of them, for one reason or another. However, after watching "Horror of Dracula" I was hooked. I have been slowly building my collection....
This leads me to "Dracula: Prince of Darkness", the third chapter in Hammer's Dracula saga. This film is very gothic in nature and really has this impressionistic/Victorian vibe going on. In other words, this film is dripping with mood. The story is about four people who end up spending the night in Dracula's castle. In contrast, Count Dracula has been dead for quite some time (reference "Horror of Dracula"). Nevertheless, Dracula still has a "servant" doing his bidding and taking care of the castle. Well it isn't long before Dracula is resurrected and releases his hate on the living.
There is a bit more to it, but other reviews have done a good job describing the film. Christopher Lee is awesome in this film, despite the fact he doesn't utter one word in the film. I read somewhere that Lee felt the dialogue written for him was ridiculous, which lead to the silent portrayal of the Count. I feel the lack of dialogue lead to a captivating performance. Yet I must advise that Dracula is only in the second half of the movie. It takes a bit before he is "brought back". This didn't bother me, it only added to the tension. The other actors/actress were very good. I felt Andrew Keir did an amazing job as "the expert in vampirism". It is pretty hard to top Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but Keir did a fine job.
As for the DVD itself, this version of "Dracula: Prince of Darkness" is a DVD-R. This at first turned me off. I wasn't really into the idea of buying an "unofficial" version of a movie. Alternately, I found the price tags of the official DVD very distressing. Allow me to explain, this movie is "out of print". This leads to third party sellers raising the price in a ludicrous manner. So I decided to take a chance and buy the DVD-R version, which is still cheaper than the out of print copies.
This DVD-R version is really cool; it looks like an official DVD. It comes with a normal DVD case and art. The DVDs themselves look like normal DVDs, not burn ones. Some DVD-R or DVD-RWs have a purple or blue bottom; this version is the basic transparent silver (like a regular DVD). This is a two disk set. The first disk is the movie in widescreen format. The picture is pretty good, albeit dark and murky is some areas. The second disk is special features. Again this is a direct copy of Anchor Bay's version. Yet I believe the official version was a dual sided DVD, not my personal favorite. So this direct copy omits the dual sided business and makes it a two disk set.
Overall, I am very pleased I purchased this product and would by a DVD-R movie from Amazon again. If I had to complain, I would say that the picture of the film itself could be clearer in some areas. Yet this is a minor complaint. I am glad I was able to get my hands on this movie and add it to my Dracula collection.
Hammer, bless their hearts, manage to take all that is cheesy in the Dracula idiom, concentrate it, and discard everything of any real interest. Bram Stoker's novel is an extremely subtle, complex and allegorical exploration of the human condition, and there have been some outstanding dramatisations of it (the best of which pick up a number of different subtexts), but this surely isn't one of them. This is a Z-Grade horror/suspense movie, and in fairness to it, it doesn't try to be anything more … more
It is rather brisk in this field. The leaves are descending like a tapestry of aloof dreams. The wind entices these leaves into a plume of whimsical billowing ontological paradox. Then I recall that I … more
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For many years after becoming one of the definitive movie Draculas in the 1958 Hammer Films classic Horror of Dracula (in which he was pitted against Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing), Christopher Lee refused to reprise his role as filmdom's most infamous vampire. He finally returned to the role in this belated 1965 sequel, once again directed by Hammer studios veteran Terence Fisher. It's not as effective or as intelligently written as the earlier film, but it has become a minor classic in its own right for horror connoisseurs, notably due to the combination of eerie atmosphere (a Terence Fisher specialty) and violence that was, by mid-'60s standards, quite bloody and graphic. Indeed, the story begins when Count Dracula's servant revives his master by hanging an unsuspecting victim over the tomb containing Dracula's ashes and draining the blood from the unlucky fellow so it can trickle into the tomb and restore life to the remains of the undead vampire! It's this kind of unholy communion that was a trademark of Hammer horror, andDracula: Prince of Darknesscontinues with all the requisite ingredients--including a group of tourists who arrive at the count's secluded castle just in time to feed his insatiable bloodlust! True horror fans will appreciate the performance by Hammer regular Barbara Shelley, widely considered to be one of her best. So, file your fangs and enjoy Lee in his most famous and immortal role!--Jeff Shannon