Dracula – Prince of Darkness (review by Doug Smith)
The second in Hammer’s series of seven Dracula films, “Dracula – Prince of Darkness” features two married English couples on holiday, who unknowingly stay in Drac’s castle. Bloody hell! I’ve been bitten by the undead, gov’na! Filmed in Romania, this movie gives us a reason to stay the hell away from Europe, aside from bidets and bad hygiene.
Christopher Lee, an actor whose merits gained him a lucrative role in “Police Academy: Mission to Moscow,” plays Dracula. Andrew Kier portrays pudgy, pistol packin’ priest, Father Sandor. Barbara Shelly overacts to the nth degree as prudish, Mary Poppins wannabe, Helen Kent. And, finally, Thorley Walters, who looks like he should be chasing half-naked women around and patting old, bald men on the head, plays Ludwig Renfield.
The movie starts out with a troupe of Amish people carrying Elizabeth Montgomery’s corpse to the forest, where they want to drive a stake through her heart because they think she’s a vampire, even though she’s in direct sunlight and nothing’s happening. Why’d they carry her to the forest to do it? Glad you asked! I have no idea. Anyway, just before they bloody a perfectly clean stake, Father Sandor shows up and fires his rifle in the air to get their attention. That’s my kinda preacher! He informs the yokels that they are, in fact, mistaken about Elizabeth being a vampire and that she’s actually a witch with her very own television show. He didn’t go into the whole “multiple Darrins” theory. Let’s face it, the simps probably wouldn’t have gotten it.
So, now that we’ve met our hero, let’s switch to the hapless victims, who are on vacation and taking in some of the local color, which means getting wasted in a bar. After rescuing Elizabeth Montgomery, Father Sandor stops by to partake in some “earthly vices.” The tourists talk with the good Father about life, the universe and everything and a good time is had by all. Then they tell him just where, exactly, they’re going (some town or something … I wasn’t really paying attention). Father Sandor strongly urges them not to go there, but, after a night’s rest, they blatantly ignore a holy man’s warning and go there anyway.
They get about halfway there when the coach driver refuses to take them any further. He kicks their limey asses off his wagon and throws their luggage at them and drives off into the sunset. Just as they’re about ready to spend the night in a beat up, old shack, a rogue horse and carriage comes along. Not suspecting a thing and disregarding that someone may have lost control of the buggy and fallen off a few miles back, they try to hijack it. The horses have other ideas, however. That’s right, they lose control of the horses and end up right at the front door of Drac’s Malibu Beach House. No, wait, just his castle.
Being the rude English folk that they are, they invite themselves into the castle and find the table already set and the beds already made up. Klove, Dracula’s housekeeper, appears and explains that his master made it clear that the castle should always be ready for visitors. You’d think Dracula would have a better looking housekeeper, being King of the Undead and all. Anyway, being the poor, dumb, unsuspecting morons that they are, they stay there and, in the middle of the night, they go walking in their sleep. Er … no … Helen is awakened by some noise out in the hall. She sends her husband out to investigate and Klove promptly kills him and uses his blood to revive good ol’ Draccy.
I’m always kind of a sucker for Dracula films. Ha! Sucker! Get it? Anyway, I enjoyed this movie. It’s not the best, but it’s not entirely bad, either. Hammer seems to have a reputation for that. Christopher Lee is, of course, brilliant as Dracula. 3 1/2 yaks.