This is the second Hammer Dracula film to feature Christopher Lee in the title role. Although Peter Cushing sadly does not reprise his definitive role as Van Helsing this has much to offer.
The film starts with a replay of the final few minutes of the first Hammer Dracula (aka The Horror of Dracula), which is perhaps the greatest moment in the history of Hammer films. From there it develops quickly, with two couples ending up staying at Castle Dracula. Some well known faces make up the rest of the cast including Francis Matthews, Barbara Shelley and Andrew Keir. This film was made eight years after the original and its quite surprising how much more violent and gory it is.
The film was directed by Terence Fisher and you always know with a Hammer film that if he was the director you would get a quality film. He also directed Curse of Frankenstein, The Devil Rides Out, Hound of The Baskervilles, Brides of Dracula and of course the original Dracula (all worth buying). Add this to James Bernard's great score and you have a fine horror film that has stood the test of time really well.
on 1 August 2012
Lots of people seem to have moaned over this Blu-Ray release not presenting the flm as it should be seen. Whilst I am no expert on talking about film grain and aspect ratios etc, all I can say is that I disagree with them, the colour and scope have never looked better than here, and the fine detail is beautiful. In comparison with the DVD from the Optimum releasing 21 Hammer film box set, this version knocks it clear out of the water.
Any Hammer fans should be thrilled with this release which also has a lot of nice extras, including a new commentary from the main cast, and some interviews and on set footage from 1965. Recommended.
on 12 March 2012
With "Dracula, Prince of Darkness", Terence Fisher continues his seemingly endless artistic decline that started with "Curse of the werewolf", peaked with the interminable "Phantom of opera", and continued with "The deadly necklace" and "The earth dies screaming". in this doomed 1961-1966 period, only "The Gorgon" shows a very convincing return to form.
As for "Prince of Darkness" the film is ruined (like "Phantom", "Curse..." and "...Dies screaming") by terrible pacing problems. Christopher Lee does not appear before minute 50 (in a 90-minute film) and the remaining actors are not good enough to make the viewer forget about an extremely boring screenplay: lost British tourists, go to a dinner to a castle despite being told avoid the castle at all costs, etc, etc...zzzz....
This is too bad as the post-credit sequence was very strong, with an Andrew Keir in top form.
From minute 45 onwards, the film moves properly, but falls again in oblivion when the tedious Thorley Walters tries to bring a light note to the proceedings.
Bar Lee and Keir, only ueber-babe Barbara Shelley is worth mentioning in the cast.
With regards to extras, the audio commentary shows how pompous Lee can be, literally preventing his fellow cast mates to open their mouth. The documentary is as always very thorough (and it is nice to see Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley several decades after the film was made). But it is too bad that the documentary "The many faces of Christopher Lee" dating 1995 and which was available on the DVD, is nowhere to be found on the BluRay.
Bottom line: If, like me, you consider the 1958 "Dracula" as a cinematic masterpiece, then you will be horrified by this belated and lazy sequel. Avoid.
Dracula Prince of Darkness was Hammer's only Scope entry in the Christopher Lee series, but it's frankly a rather dull and dragged out affair - Drac doesn't appear for 49 minutes and the first hour of the film could have been done much better in half the time. Lee is clearly bored and has little to do, but Andrew Keir's gun-totting monk is one of Hammer's most interesting characters and there's no doubting the effectiveness of Barbara Shelley's transformation from uptight sister in law to hottie demon dyke ("You don't need Charles!"). There are good moments, from Dracula's reincarnation to the Dracula-on-Ice finale, and the fact that the hero and heroine are called Charles and Diana is good for a few unintentional laughs, but this is far to sedate and drawn out for its own good.
StudioCanal's first pressing of this Blu-ray was notoriously disastrous, with synchronisation problems with the sound and the opening sequence in particular looked badly compressed, leading to the original copies being recalled and replaced. The new pressing is a great improvement, though there's still a bit too much noise reduction and filtering applied, as well as the odd bit of edge enhancement to try to overcompensate for the problems of the Techniscope original. Techniscope was a non-anamorphic widescreen system that, instead of squeezing the image, used only half of the frame area to create a 2.35:1 widescreen image, which was then released on anamorphic 'squeezed' prints using the full frame area: it may have saved money on film stock costs for cost conscious producers, but it also meant less detail. Unfortunately they've tried in places to digitally improve that, with somewhat mixed results. It's another one where the restoration comparison featurette included doesn't always convince you the right decisions were always made.
The extras package is an interesting mixture of the features previously available on Anchor Bay's US DVD - audio commentary by Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer and Christopher Lee, Matthews' 8mm home movie footage of the shoot, trailers and an episode of the 80s World of Hammer compilation TV series - and a new half hour documentary as well as alternate title sequences. While there are still some issues with the replacement transfer, this is probably as good as it will get, and it's certainly not as painfully over-DNRed as some other films on Blu-ray: don't expect miracles, and you'll probably be satisfied with the new disc.
on 8 December 2014
The story starts with the final scene of the 1958 original, where Count Dracula is transformed into ashes. Christopher Lee reprises his role as Count Dracula once again, as two couples travelling through Eastern Europe, find themselves stranded by the side of the road, after their coach driver dumps them, and drives off. In the distance they spot a castle, a driverless carriage appears, and after getting in, it proceeds to take them to the castle. After arriving they are met by the mysterious Klove, a servant of the castle.
This is the direct sequel to Dracula, which was Hammer's first outing with the Dracula films, also starring Peter Cushing. This genre would go on untill the 70's, which Hammer would become world famous for. For anyone who grew up with these films in the 60's, this one is a must buy. Or for anyone who hasn't yet watched a 'Hammer Horror', and hasn't seen any of the old style of horror films, then watch this.
Hammer only made a few films in the CinemaScope format, and this is one of them. The film has been transferred in it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Colours are natural, and this blu ray looks good. The sound is in 2.0
Final word: Before buying this, I already owned this film on dvd, and I can say that this blu ray release has far better Picture Quality than the dvd.
Recommended, especially if you are a fan of Hammer Horrors.
on 26 April 2012
I have to commend Hammer and Studio Canal for listening to the feedback and taking decisive action regarding the earlier issues with this release. After fixing the sound issues they have also negated some of the DNR overkill in the opening sequence. It is an excellent release which they have done a very good job of, given the constraints of the source material. I always would prefer some kind of viewing notes booklet with any movie release and would have given it five stars if there had been one, but in terms of extras etc this is pretty comprehensive. Well done
on 26 February 2013
The first Hammer Dracula film to hit blu-ray will not disappoint. The film was shot in techniscope which is always problematic transferring to digital but this disc is a good as it can be. The film was a major revealation on blu-ray after seeing it on DVD for so many years. The colors and sharpness (especially on close-ups) is startling! A must have for Hammer and Dracula fans!
on 13 December 2014
The second of the Hammer Dracula films & in my view second only to the first Dracula film in quality. The only downside is that Peter Cushing did not reprise his role as Van Helsing but Christopher Lee was fantastic as Dracula. The quality of the blu-ray was excellent. Well worth buying.
on 29 December 2010
The films not aged as well as some others. Lee's performance is strong and works well without dialog. But overall I found the movie somewhat bland and dissapointing. The script perhaps being the main culprit. But Barbara Shelley's under used. Dabble if u dare.
on 2 April 2015
This was the first Dracula film i got to see back in the early 70s, when the bbc screened it. and it still holds up even today. Christopher Lee is back as the count, what stands out for me is his acting, as he does not speak at all in the film.The film starts of with a pts repeat of what happened at the end of the Horror of Dracula. The story begins with two couples on holiday been warned to stay away from Castle Dracula, from Father Sandor played by Andrew Keir,well do they take his advice ...PQ is ok on this blu ray, plus extras are good too.