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Scars of Dracula [DVD] 
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Classic British horror directed by Roy Ward Baker. After a philandering young artist goes missing, his brother Simon (Dennis Waterman) and girlfriend Sarah (Jenny Hanley) discover that he was last seen heading for Castle Dracula. When they investigate they are greeted by the Count (Christopher Lee) and made welcome for the night. However, it's not long before Dracula's manservant Klove (Patrick Troughton) warns Peter to get Sarah away from his master before something terrible happens to her...
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Unlike the US Anchor Bay DVD, this UK release only offers the trailer as an extra.
Of course, old school Christopher Lee plays it reasonably straight - though his oft-stated insistence that he tried to imbue Stoker's character with pathos ("the loneliness of evil"), is well out the window - but the rest of the cast seem to be operating on a different sphere entirely. It's probably conscious: the plot is so ludicrous, the likes of Ripper, Gwynn, Troughton, etc, can't resist playing it farce-like over-the-top. The subtleties and atmospherics of Fisher are long gone, leaving only crude, sadistic absurdity in it's place.
Apart from Lee - and a super rich score from another 5o's stalwart, James Bernard - the only place 'SoD'(!) scores heavily is on the hot totty chart (Ha, now you're interested!). There's 4(!!) certified beauts on view: Lead cowerer is Jenny Hanley, beautifully wide-eyed with a look of ancestral Universal scream queens like Evelyn Ankers about her. She's closely followed by achingly cute Wendy Hamilton as the ubiquitous randy barmaid, who at least manages a performance amidst all the scene-chewing carnage. Fruity Delia Lindsey gets chased naked up the stairs by mugging-colossus Bob Todd (looking more like a gargoyle than ever) - another marker to the film's base humour - And finally, the gob-smacking Anouska Hempel (one-time Mrs Bill Kenwright, if there's any tricky blues reading); five minutes with her and any red-blooded male would quite happily convert to satan and throw his soul away forever.
Others present(ish) don't fare so well : Dennis Waterman is the male lead and is bad. He wanders through the movie like a bit of animate Yew, and what old Dave at the Winchester would make of his accent, I shudder to think. Even Lee, ash-faced and distant as he is, appears far more the modern actor than dead-from-the-neck-up Den.
Christopher Matthews is involved in the worst of the film's plot (Yes, he really does tie curtains together then jumps out the window), and seems to been infected by Waterman's stilted, olde Ealing-style dialogue delivery. Even more disgustingly, he slinks from Lindsey to Hanley to Hamilton and finally Hempel in the first half-hour ! Only Hanley remains un-seduced - he jumps out the window instead. He's a good-looking fella, but that's just rubbing it in.
Hammer Films were famed and acclaimed for recycling and making a little go a long way, but 'SoD' looks cheap. The sets are thin and tiny, and it looks like they paid the extras in gin. The special effects are feeble, and the unbelievable day-for-night wavers all over the place. The plot holes are too numerous to detail - and there's umpteen inexcusable bendings of the folklore, which neuters on the spot any aspirations of worth or seriousness the film might have. And the ending is plain stupid (it involves Waterman jumping out the window - and jumping back in again !) - tho the final shot is pretty awesome.
Still, if you're up for a touch of absurdist De Sade with a side-twist of gothic Benny Hill, it'll pass you an hour and and half of semi-stunted sub-amusement .
It would've been a better film with the reappearance of a Van Helsing type vampire hunter, like Cushing, or Andrew Keir (Dracula: Prince of Darkness), as the kill-scene is my least favorite of all the Lee/Dracula films. But the DVD itself is beautiful, the picture quality near perfect, the sound clear and crisp. And it is a well put together film.
The extras from Anchorbay, as usual, are far superior to anything anyone else (with the exception of Criterion, perhaps) includes with their DVDs. There's an audio commentary with Lee and director Roy Ward Baker. You get trailers, a poster gallery, and with the limited edition two disc set, you also get a neat and personal interview with Lee called "The Many Faces of Christopher Lee", and two totally cool music videos that Lee participated in. Anchorbay, as always, has treated the Hammer Horror fan with an exceptionally good product.
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