So with Hammers first Dracula film we had Chrisopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, then we got a second Dracula film the Brides of Dracula which featured Cushings Van Helsing but didnt actually featuring Christopher Lee or anyone for that matter as Dracula and so after that we got the third Hammer Dracula film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness which saw the return of Lee, this time without Cushing (with the exception of scenes from Horror Of Dracula featuring him in the prologue). I saw this film originally years ago when I was quiet young, I however recently watched it and felt that I would like to review it as a part of my series of Hammer reviews.
Ok so I try to keep things spoiler free but if you havent yet watched Horror of Dracula and dont want that film spoiling then skip this paragrape as the start of this film is the end of that one. The film starts with a prologue which replays the final scene from Horror of Dracula, in which Dr. Van Helsing destroys Dracula
by first pulling down the curtains and then using two large candle sticks to act as a cross, a cross which he uses to push Dracula back in to the sunlight that is coming through the window which kills him. These replay is accompanied by
voice-over narration which tells of how Van Helsing was able to end Dracula's reign of terror making him nothing more than a dreaded memory. I really like the way this is done, it really conects this film to the first one, it also reminds you of just how brilliantly that film ended, what once was a great ending now serves as a really awesome high impact start to this film with the naration adding a certain freshness to it, personally I think this was an awesome way to open the film.
The main story doesnt feature Van Helsing at all, it instead tells about how Dracula is reserected and then gives us a new set of characters to go against him, the closist to a Van Helsing style character being Father Sandor who goes from visiting an inn and warning four English tourists to stay away from Dracula's castle to eventually offering those who have escaped Dracula sanctuary and help to defeat him. I dont think he is as good as Peter Cushing however Andrew Keir plays Sandor well and makes him both a believeable and intresting character, you feel that he is just as knowledgable and willing to fight evil as Helsing was but he in my mind at least just doesnt feel as formidable a foe, he doesnt feel like Dracula's natural equal.
I guess your expecting me to go on and on about how wonderful Christopher Lee is now or how much I miss Peter Cushing? Well I do and dont miss Cushing there was a nice little bit of seeing how cool he was at the start even if it was purly a recap and reused footage, yes its great to see Helsing against Dracula but its intresting to see how Dracula deals with and relates to other diffrent people. Now I find it important to note that the Dracula seen in this film is kind of diffrent to the one seen in the first movie for a start Dracula does not speak in the film, he gestures and looks and hisses apart from the hisses its almost like a silent movie portrayel of Dracula but just like with a silent film Chrisopher Lee manages to speak a thousand words with every look with every movement, he might not talk but he speaks volumes with his acting.
to Christopher Lee: "I didn’t speak in that picture. The reason was very
simple. I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if
you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much
mistaken.", this account was contradicted by the Screenwriter Jimmy Sangsterwho claimed that "Vampires don't chat. So I didn't write him any dialogue. ''Personally I can think of a whole bunch of reasons Dracula might not talk in this film from a story point of view, maybe it was because of how he came back, maybe meeting his end and then being reserected effected him, or maybe he just didnt find anyone worth talking to that he met during this film. If it is true that Lee read the script and the dialogue was poor then I say that it was a good call on his behalf to decide that less was more and say nothing instead pouring everything in to his almost silent performance.
I didnt enjoy this game as much as Horror of Dracula but I actually have tio say that I think it was better than Brides of Dracula and certainly well worth a watch.