Dracula pops out of the coffin for Hammer’s fifth film in its series about the Count (although this is only fourth one he actually appears in) with Scars of Dracula. I’m certain this title was one by committee, as there is a distinct lack of scars in the movie. Maybe it refers to the lash marks on Dracula’s servant’s back? Title-wise, it ranks up there with Scream, Blackula, Scream! from truth in advertising, butI digress before I even get to the review.
Scars of Dracula sees the Count back at his castle in GermHungavanian or whichever country most of the Hammer Dracula films are set in after having been rendered into blood dust in England at the climax of Taste the Blood of Dracula. We’re not given an explanation of how the red Folger’s crystals of Dracula and his cape made it home, but there’s partial nudity and poorly-designed bats awaiting us, so we press on. Dracula gets burned out of house and home in short order, but you can’t keep the Count down. Before long, the castle is back in serviceable condition and Dracula begins his reign of occasional terror. Mostly by waiting for people to wander close enough to his castle to send his servant out to collect them, or to simply hope that people knock on his door looking for a place to stay. I’d venture that Dracula really needs to get more proactive, but he’s a couple centuries old so I’ll forgive him for his hunting lassitude. Luckily, he also has bats.
This is the first Hammer film that demonstrates Dracula’s command over the lesser beasts, and it would be much more effective if we weren’t dealing with 1970s film bat technology–black felt on a coconut and held aloft by two pieces of fishing line, or so I’d venture. If you can get past the bats’ goofiness, however, the Count dispatching them to, well, dispatch, the town’s women, children, and elderly huddled for safety in the church while the menfolk burn down his castle is pretty hardcore.
Scars of Dracula originates during Hammer’s decline, shot with a reduced budget and distribution. Nevertheless, I never get tired of seeing Christopher Lee strap on the cape and the bloodshot contact lenses for another go around as the Count. While not the best of the Hammer Draculas, it’s still good enough to rate two-and-a-half skulls out of four on the horror-meter.