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 than that. Ludicrous capes, pantomime style "he's behind you" suspense, busty vamp chicks (nothing wrong with these of course) and hilarious overacting from the good Count (Lee is just awful - no doubt overcompensating for his lack of dialogue) are the order of the day. As long as that's your "bag", it's fine - although you'll find the 40 odd years since it was released have not treated it kindly. The ending is also something of a damp squib.
If, on the other hand, you're on the lookout for a more sophisticated rendering of the Dracula story, check out Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula", F.W. Murnau's seminal 1922 silent movie "Nosferatu: A symphony of horror", or - my personal toppermost recommendation - Werner Herzog's exquisite homage to the Murnau picture, "Nosferatu the Vampyre", in which Klaus Kinski is simply magnificent.
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 … more
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