Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Scars of Dracula (1970)

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A spurious bat on a string flaps into Dracula’s castle and expectorates blood onto the Count’s desiccated ashes. Voila, the baron has risen again but the low budget restrictions are definitely evident this time around. When the irate townspeople cordially knock on the door to the cliffside manor for Dracula’s servant to open the barricade, the scene is such a falsely polite and ingratiating bluff (“I promise I’m alone”), it should’ve been the droll parody that Dracula Dead and Loving It was proclaimed as.

In most of Christopher Lee’s Dracula performances, he was mostly monosyllabic. Reportedly, Lee loathed the dialogue so much that he refused to utter it. In Scars of Dracula, the Count is downright verbose by comparison which is a refreshing change-of-pace for his immortal depiction as it showcases his oratory power.

Like the classic Universal Monster movie, Dracula’s resuscitation is a series of dissolves. The matte paintings of a castle prisoner scaling the vertigo-inducing exterior in Kleinenberg are quite resplendent. Roy Ward Baker doesn’t trudge on the tempo in spite of the sixth entry’s tropes (e.g. A tavern becomes skittish when a traveling couple inquires about a truant party, Dracula’s hospitality before a fanged conversion, etc.).

At this point, Hammer was definitely pushing the envelope in terms of their graphic content. By the 70’s, the Godfather of Gore Herschell Gordon Lewis had inelegantly strewn the screen with entrails and bodily fluids. Following suit, Scars of Dracula is the most bloodthirsty of the Hammer films with Dracula repeatedly stabbing one of his mistresses into a pulp and then ingesting her life essence.

As not to be a sanitized hero, Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) is a philandering scoundrel that he is accused of rape by the burgomaster’s daughter within his lascivious introduction. The risque humor of the characterization magnifies that this is a florid rollercoaster that is striated with R-rated decadence hereto unforeseen by the British censors.

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