Dracula--Prince of Darkness


1h 30m 1966
Dracula--Prince of Darkness

Brief Synopsis

Four travelers unwittingly revive the bloodsucking count.

Film Details

Also Known As
Revenge of Dracula
Genre
Horror
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Detroit opening: 12 Jan 1966
Production Company
Hammer Film Productions, Ltd.; Seven Arts Productions
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker (London, 1897).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Charles and Diana Kent, Charles's brother (Alan), and Alan's wife (Helen) vacation in the Carpathian Mountains, but they are told to stay out of the Carlsbad area, where the inhabitants are still frightened of vampires even though Dracula has been dead for 10 years. These people ignore the advice and hire a coach to take them through the area. As the coach passes Dracula's castle, however, the driver leaves them standing on the road, and he turns back. A driverless coach then takes them on to the castle, where they are persuaded by Klove, the butler, to spend the night. Later, Alan is hacked to death by Klove, and his blood drips over Dracula's ashes and causes the vampire's revivification. Dracula quickly attacks Helen and transforms her into a vampire. Charles and Diana use the protection of the cross to escape from the castle to a monastery run by sympathetic Father Shandor, one of Dracula's archenemies. Ludwig, an old man, invites Dracula and Helen to enter the monastery, and Helen tries to attack Charles but is killed when a stake is driven through her heart. Charles nearly kills Dracula, but night falls rapidly, and Dracula fights off the attacker and then retires to his coffin on the ice-covered moat. Father Shandor, recalling that vampires can be killed by running water, breaks up the ice and allows the water to flow over Dracula.

Film Details

Also Known As
Revenge of Dracula
Genre
Horror
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Detroit opening: 12 Jan 1966
Production Company
Hammer Film Productions, Ltd.; Seven Arts Productions
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker (London, 1897).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Dracula: Prince of Darkness on Blu-ray


Seven years after resurrecting Count Dracula for a new generation in Hammer Films' The Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee returned to role under the direction of Hammer's defining director, Terence Fisher, for a direct sequel. In fact, Dracula: Prince of Darkness opens a recap of the Horror of Dracula finale, which is the first and last time we see Peter Cushing in the picture. But while the film is a genuine sequel with a new story (scripted by Jimmy Sangster from an idea by producer Anthony Hinds, both using pseudonyms in the credits) it reworks many details from the classic novel and Hammer's adaptation on a smaller scale.

This time the innocents are a group of English tourists--brothers Charles (Francis Matthews, speaking with a Cary Grant lilt) and Alan (Charles Tingwell) and their wives Diana (Suzan Farmer) and Helen (Hammer regular Barbara Shelley)--vacationing in the Carpathian Mountains. Dumped in the woods by a terrified coachman just before darkness falls, they are taken to Dracula's castle in a driverless carriage and take refuge in the seemingly empty yet oddly kept up place, despite the warnings of travelling priest Father Sandor (Andrew Keir in holy monk warrior garb) and the ominous arrival of the castle's sole living occupant, Klove (Philip Latham), servant to long-dead master. Klove delivers the film's best line to his guests, who enquire about the Dracula legacy: "My master died without issue, sir, in the accepted sense of the term." (Curiously, Klove is nowhere to be seen in the original The Horror of Dracula). He's enough to put you off the main course, and it does exactly that to Helen, the only member of the party with sense enough to want out of there.

There's nothing particularly threatening in the atmosphere of these early scenes. An earlier stop in the local rustic tavern is almost cheery (the dire warnings of Sandor notwithstanding) and though it's a little odd to find the castle awaiting their arrival with a table set and their luggage set out in upstairs guest rooms, it's a bright, colorful, well-lit place. Fisher adds in the eeriness slowly, mostly through the presence of Klove and his gangly appearance, slightly off-kilter carriage, and perpetual dour expression. It's with the shadows of night that things start to get really creepy.

The film's most memorable set piece is the resurrection of Dracula, who is literally a pile of ashes brought back to corporeal form by a gush of human blood waterfalling into his crypt from a human sacrifice. Klove performs the act with the care and deliberation of a religious ritual, giving an already gruesome scene a terrible gravity. One of Sangster's defining contributions to the Hammer horrors was his creative twists on the usual conventions and this startling rebirth is one of his best, an unholy baptism in blood. Les Bowie, the film's special effects wizard, provides Hammer with one of the most evocative effects in the studio's history. As the blood and ash bubble up into primordial life, the vaguely humanoid flesh growing in front of our eyes, slowly taking human form from the inside out in a series of lap dissolves until a pool of fog fills the crypt and obscures our view. And still his arrival is put off for a grand entrance: Lee standing tall in aristocratic clothes and cape, with an ashen, corpse-like pallor, animal red eyes, and a heartless smile that pulls back to reveal his fangs before sinking them into his first victim.

Lee never speaks a word as Dracula, merely hissing and spitting like a cat and using his piercing eyes mesmerize and silently command his prey. Lee avoided returning to the role for years and seems to be back reluctantly. He has top billing but half the film has gone by before his first appearance and he has less screen time than any of the featured actors. He dominates his scenes by the sheer power of his size and presence and dark, ferocious magnetism, but he comes off more like a demonic beast in dress clothes than the ancient, cultured Count Dracula.

The rest of the film is routinely plotted. Charles is the story's answer to Jonathan Harker, young(ish) and impulsive and tempting fate by proposing a toast to the Count, and Diana is in the Mina role, the dewy young beauty who Dracula chooses to make his new bride. A solo Shelley stands in for the three female vampires of the novel and fly-gobbling Thorley Walters plays the Renfield role as a doddering old tinker. The modest budget keeps the action limited to just a few sets and a couple of locations in the woods. Even the castle, viewed from afar, is a small-scale model shot with soft focus to obscure its origins. But Fisher sets the tone beautifully in the first scene, a funeral procession through the wood with an angelic-looking young maiden on a litter and a man with a hammer and stake following behind, and as the film progresses he casts more shadows across the sets and drops the camera for low-angle shots and cant angles to suggest a world off-balance. As in Hammer's first Dracula, this film offers another inventive solution to the defeat of the vampire (drawn right out of vampire lore), and Andrew Keir's Father Sandor is a worthy stand-in for Van Helsing, at once a devoted priest, a religious warrior, and a worldly man, and Keir gives him an earthy, experienced presence.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness makes its stateside Blu-ray debut with the same restored and remastered transfer created by Studio Canal for the British Blu-ray release. The colors are strong but subdued throughout the film, jumping to life only when blood is spilled and the rich crimson burns into the image. The disc has been criticized for too much DNR smoothing over the grain but the image is clean and clear throughout and it is a significant improvement in clarity and detail from previous DVD releases.

New to this disc is the 30-minute documentary, Back to Black: The Making of Dracula: Prince of Darkness, featuring new interviews with actors Barbara Shelley and Francis Matthews, film historians Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby, film music historian David Huckvale, and Sherlock writer and actor Mark Gattis, offering a little production history, some stories from the set, and an appreciation of the film.

Carried over from earlier Anchor Bay DVD release is commentary by stars Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer, recorded more than a decade ago with all four actors reunited and swapping remembrances in a collegial atmosphere, and there is an episode from the World of Hammer documentary series on "Hammer Stars: Christopher Lee." Also features a restoration comparison, a restored version of the original trailers, and a gallery of stills.

By Sean Axmaker
Dracula: Prince Of Darkness On Blu-Ray

Dracula: Prince of Darkness on Blu-ray

Seven years after resurrecting Count Dracula for a new generation in Hammer Films' The Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee returned to role under the direction of Hammer's defining director, Terence Fisher, for a direct sequel. In fact, Dracula: Prince of Darkness opens a recap of the Horror of Dracula finale, which is the first and last time we see Peter Cushing in the picture. But while the film is a genuine sequel with a new story (scripted by Jimmy Sangster from an idea by producer Anthony Hinds, both using pseudonyms in the credits) it reworks many details from the classic novel and Hammer's adaptation on a smaller scale. This time the innocents are a group of English tourists--brothers Charles (Francis Matthews, speaking with a Cary Grant lilt) and Alan (Charles Tingwell) and their wives Diana (Suzan Farmer) and Helen (Hammer regular Barbara Shelley)--vacationing in the Carpathian Mountains. Dumped in the woods by a terrified coachman just before darkness falls, they are taken to Dracula's castle in a driverless carriage and take refuge in the seemingly empty yet oddly kept up place, despite the warnings of travelling priest Father Sandor (Andrew Keir in holy monk warrior garb) and the ominous arrival of the castle's sole living occupant, Klove (Philip Latham), servant to long-dead master. Klove delivers the film's best line to his guests, who enquire about the Dracula legacy: "My master died without issue, sir, in the accepted sense of the term." (Curiously, Klove is nowhere to be seen in the original The Horror of Dracula). He's enough to put you off the main course, and it does exactly that to Helen, the only member of the party with sense enough to want out of there. There's nothing particularly threatening in the atmosphere of these early scenes. An earlier stop in the local rustic tavern is almost cheery (the dire warnings of Sandor notwithstanding) and though it's a little odd to find the castle awaiting their arrival with a table set and their luggage set out in upstairs guest rooms, it's a bright, colorful, well-lit place. Fisher adds in the eeriness slowly, mostly through the presence of Klove and his gangly appearance, slightly off-kilter carriage, and perpetual dour expression. It's with the shadows of night that things start to get really creepy. The film's most memorable set piece is the resurrection of Dracula, who is literally a pile of ashes brought back to corporeal form by a gush of human blood waterfalling into his crypt from a human sacrifice. Klove performs the act with the care and deliberation of a religious ritual, giving an already gruesome scene a terrible gravity. One of Sangster's defining contributions to the Hammer horrors was his creative twists on the usual conventions and this startling rebirth is one of his best, an unholy baptism in blood. Les Bowie, the film's special effects wizard, provides Hammer with one of the most evocative effects in the studio's history. As the blood and ash bubble up into primordial life, the vaguely humanoid flesh growing in front of our eyes, slowly taking human form from the inside out in a series of lap dissolves until a pool of fog fills the crypt and obscures our view. And still his arrival is put off for a grand entrance: Lee standing tall in aristocratic clothes and cape, with an ashen, corpse-like pallor, animal red eyes, and a heartless smile that pulls back to reveal his fangs before sinking them into his first victim. Lee never speaks a word as Dracula, merely hissing and spitting like a cat and using his piercing eyes mesmerize and silently command his prey. Lee avoided returning to the role for years and seems to be back reluctantly. He has top billing but half the film has gone by before his first appearance and he has less screen time than any of the featured actors. He dominates his scenes by the sheer power of his size and presence and dark, ferocious magnetism, but he comes off more like a demonic beast in dress clothes than the ancient, cultured Count Dracula. The rest of the film is routinely plotted. Charles is the story's answer to Jonathan Harker, young(ish) and impulsive and tempting fate by proposing a toast to the Count, and Diana is in the Mina role, the dewy young beauty who Dracula chooses to make his new bride. A solo Shelley stands in for the three female vampires of the novel and fly-gobbling Thorley Walters plays the Renfield role as a doddering old tinker. The modest budget keeps the action limited to just a few sets and a couple of locations in the woods. Even the castle, viewed from afar, is a small-scale model shot with soft focus to obscure its origins. But Fisher sets the tone beautifully in the first scene, a funeral procession through the wood with an angelic-looking young maiden on a litter and a man with a hammer and stake following behind, and as the film progresses he casts more shadows across the sets and drops the camera for low-angle shots and cant angles to suggest a world off-balance. As in Hammer's first Dracula, this film offers another inventive solution to the defeat of the vampire (drawn right out of vampire lore), and Andrew Keir's Father Sandor is a worthy stand-in for Van Helsing, at once a devoted priest, a religious warrior, and a worldly man, and Keir gives him an earthy, experienced presence. Dracula: Prince of Darkness makes its stateside Blu-ray debut with the same restored and remastered transfer created by Studio Canal for the British Blu-ray release. The colors are strong but subdued throughout the film, jumping to life only when blood is spilled and the rich crimson burns into the image. The disc has been criticized for too much DNR smoothing over the grain but the image is clean and clear throughout and it is a significant improvement in clarity and detail from previous DVD releases. New to this disc is the 30-minute documentary, Back to Black: The Making of Dracula: Prince of Darkness, featuring new interviews with actors Barbara Shelley and Francis Matthews, film historians Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby, film music historian David Huckvale, and Sherlock writer and actor Mark Gattis, offering a little production history, some stories from the set, and an appreciation of the film. Carried over from earlier Anchor Bay DVD release is commentary by stars Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer, recorded more than a decade ago with all four actors reunited and swapping remembrances in a collegial atmosphere, and there is an episode from the World of Hammer documentary series on "Hammer Stars: Christopher Lee." Also features a restoration comparison, a restored version of the original trailers, and a gallery of stills. By Sean Axmaker

Dracula, Prince of Darkness - Dracula - Prince of Darkness


For most horror fans Christopher Lee's best remembered role will always be Count Dracula but what many people don't realize is that he waited eight years after the success of Horror of Dracula (1958) to play the infamous vampire again. Partly, he wanted to establish himself as a serious, multi-faceted actor and avoid the same trap Bela Lugosi fell into playing the same character. Yet, Lee reluctantly returned to the role in 1966 with Dracula - Prince of Darkness, which was actually the third film in Hammer's vampire series (the second entry, The Brides of Dracula (1960), featured David Peel as an aristocratic bloodsucker named Baron Meinster).

The storyline of Dracula - Prince of Darkness unfolds like a Grimm's fairytale. Two English couples on holiday in Transylvania find themselves stranded deep in the forest after their carriage breaks down. Soon a black coach with no driver appears and carries them to a nearby castle where rooms and a warm meal are offered to them by an absent host. But the night is young and a terrible fate awaits them all.

While it lacks the classic narrative structure and stunning art direction of Horror of Dracula, Lee's second vampire film conveys a genuine sense of unease that erupts into pure horror at the first appearance of the count; he descends on his victim hissing with teeth bared like some kind of wild, ravenous animal. His predatory behavior carries an overt sexual threat here and his presence is made all the more disturbing by the fact that he never speaks one word of dialogue the entire film. Ironically, Lee later admitted that the script was so bad he refused to say the lines!

True, Dracula - Prince of Darkness is not without its faults, the major one being one of credibility. Take, for example, the two stranded couples in the film's first half. They are such total dolts that they almost deserve their fates - wandering alone into darkened rooms or deserted corridors AFTER suspecting the worst. Despite this, there are several chilling sequences in the film which were subjected to close scrutiny and heavy cuts by the British censor board. Among these are the brutal murder of Alan Kent (Charles Tingwell) who is stabbed, strung up by rope and then drained of blood (his throat is slit) and Dracula's attempted seduction of Diana Kent (Suzan Farmer) - he tries to make her drink the blood from his self-imposed chest wound.

Possibly the most memorable scene in Dracula - Prince of Darkness, however, is the demise of the once prim and proper Helen Kent (Barbara Shelley), now a voluptuous vampiress, who has to be forcibly restrained by several monks while Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) drives the stake into her heart. "It is perhaps the most potent image of sexual repression in all of British horror cinema," writes film critic Richard Scheib, and "embodies the recurrent image of sexual repression ferociously emerging to tear Victorian society apart and its dispassionate elimination by men of reason."

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys
Director: Terence Fisher
Screenplay: Anthony Hinds, Jimmy Sangster
Cinematography: Michael Reed
Film Editing: Chris Barnes
Art Direction: Don Mingaye
Music: James Bernard
Cast: Christopher Lee (Dracula), Barbara Shelley (Helen Kent), Andrew Keir (Father Sandor), Francis Matthews (Charles Kent), Suzan Farmer (Diana Kent), Charles Tingwell (Alan Kent).
C-90m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

Dracula, Prince of Darkness - Dracula - Prince of Darkness

For most horror fans Christopher Lee's best remembered role will always be Count Dracula but what many people don't realize is that he waited eight years after the success of Horror of Dracula (1958) to play the infamous vampire again. Partly, he wanted to establish himself as a serious, multi-faceted actor and avoid the same trap Bela Lugosi fell into playing the same character. Yet, Lee reluctantly returned to the role in 1966 with Dracula - Prince of Darkness, which was actually the third film in Hammer's vampire series (the second entry, The Brides of Dracula (1960), featured David Peel as an aristocratic bloodsucker named Baron Meinster). The storyline of Dracula - Prince of Darkness unfolds like a Grimm's fairytale. Two English couples on holiday in Transylvania find themselves stranded deep in the forest after their carriage breaks down. Soon a black coach with no driver appears and carries them to a nearby castle where rooms and a warm meal are offered to them by an absent host. But the night is young and a terrible fate awaits them all. While it lacks the classic narrative structure and stunning art direction of Horror of Dracula, Lee's second vampire film conveys a genuine sense of unease that erupts into pure horror at the first appearance of the count; he descends on his victim hissing with teeth bared like some kind of wild, ravenous animal. His predatory behavior carries an overt sexual threat here and his presence is made all the more disturbing by the fact that he never speaks one word of dialogue the entire film. Ironically, Lee later admitted that the script was so bad he refused to say the lines! True, Dracula - Prince of Darkness is not without its faults, the major one being one of credibility. Take, for example, the two stranded couples in the film's first half. They are such total dolts that they almost deserve their fates - wandering alone into darkened rooms or deserted corridors AFTER suspecting the worst. Despite this, there are several chilling sequences in the film which were subjected to close scrutiny and heavy cuts by the British censor board. Among these are the brutal murder of Alan Kent (Charles Tingwell) who is stabbed, strung up by rope and then drained of blood (his throat is slit) and Dracula's attempted seduction of Diana Kent (Suzan Farmer) - he tries to make her drink the blood from his self-imposed chest wound. Possibly the most memorable scene in Dracula - Prince of Darkness, however, is the demise of the once prim and proper Helen Kent (Barbara Shelley), now a voluptuous vampiress, who has to be forcibly restrained by several monks while Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) drives the stake into her heart. "It is perhaps the most potent image of sexual repression in all of British horror cinema," writes film critic Richard Scheib, and "embodies the recurrent image of sexual repression ferociously emerging to tear Victorian society apart and its dispassionate elimination by men of reason." Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys Director: Terence Fisher Screenplay: Anthony Hinds, Jimmy Sangster Cinematography: Michael Reed Film Editing: Chris Barnes Art Direction: Don Mingaye Music: James Bernard Cast: Christopher Lee (Dracula), Barbara Shelley (Helen Kent), Andrew Keir (Father Sandor), Francis Matthews (Charles Kent), Suzan Farmer (Diana Kent), Charles Tingwell (Alan Kent). C-90m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

You forget about all of this in the morning, you'll see.
- Alan Kent
There'll be no morning for us.
- Helen Kent

Trivia

Christopher Lee found the lines given to this character so awful that he chose to play it silent.

Filmed back-to-back with Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), using many of the same cast members and sets.

Notes

Opened in London in January 1966. The working title of this film is Revenge of Dracula. Sequel to Horror of Dracula (1958), a sequence from which is included in this film. John Elder is a pseudonym for Anthony Hinds.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1965

Sequel to "Horror of Dracula" and third in the series of Hammer films starring Christopher Lee as the infamous vampire.

Techniscope

Released in United States 1965