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Thread: Dracula Prince Of Darkness

  1. #1
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Dracula Prince Of Darkness

    In the extras on the Blu-ray release from the UK Marcus Hearn says something to the effect of 'this isn't the best Hammer Horror film but it is the quintessential Hammer Horror film' and then goes on to list the reasons why - implied lesbiansm, some sex appeal, some blood, gothic locations, a creepy coach, and the presence of Christopher Lee.

    In a lot of ways I agree with him - it's got everything you'd expect, but it's not the best of the Hammer Horror pictures or the best of the Dracula pictures really. I prefer the first film by a fairly big margin.

    With that said, when revisiting it the other day for the first time in years I did enjoy it more than I did the last time I saw it. I think maybe I was expecting more sex and more blood than it delivered - I was apt to do that in my 20s, and I guess you can chock that up to being raised on 80s slasher pictures. This time around though, I guess maybe because I'm more familiar with the Hammer output of the time and have seen so much more of it than I had the first go around, I dug Prince of Darkness. Lee is pretty great in it, even if he never speaks a word, and I like the supporting cast. It's nicely shot and while there are spots where the low budget definitely makes itself known, the production values aren't bad at all.

    It doesn't really start moving until the half way mark, but once it hits that mark it goes at a good pace until the end. I'm glad to have it on Blu-ray and am glad I gave it another shot. Funny how your tastes change over time. The first time I watched it I remember thinking it was very dull.
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  2. #2
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    I grew up with this, and many of the other Hammer films. Whilst it's far from my favourite Hammer picture, and definitely not my favourite Terence Fisher movie (FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN/THE DEVIL RIDES OUT/FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL would probably take that title), I'm pretty fond of it. The James Bernard score is outstanding! I love that piece of funeral music that plays early in the picture.

    To be honest, I like the 'set up' in the first half hour or so, with the introduction of Andrew Keir's character and the business with Klove in Dracula's castle. The treatment of vampirism is overtly sexual: the (delectable) Barbara Shelley's transformation from prim, repressed upper middle-class lady to salacious lesbo vamp is a shock which is only topped by the sequence in which she is 'staked' by Sandor's monks, the sequence staged like a gang rape - something which almost all of the literature on the film foregrounds.

    I love Christopher Lee, so this is no slight against him, but to be honest in this film he holds the least interest for me: I think that's got something to do with the lack of authority his Dracula has here, which is arguably down to the lack of dialogue - something which, depending on whether you believe Sangster or Lee, there are several different reasons for.

    In terms of Fisher's Dracula films, I'd say that THE BRIDES OF DRACULA is my favourite.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

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  3. #3
    Girl Boss Jane Alison Jane's Avatar
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    I enjoyed this for the most part. It was slow at times but had great ambiance. I think Lee's character was really lacking in this one simply because he has no dialogue. Otherwise the imagery was great.
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  4. #4
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Jane View Post
    Otherwise the imagery was great.
    Yep, it's a beautifully-photographed film, imo.

    The obviously polystyrene 'ice' during the climax always irritates me slightly. It's a minor quibble, but it's always bothered me a little.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

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  5. #5
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    It actually took me a second to realize it was ice. I don't really remember there being a lot of snow and what not in the film during the outdoor scenes, and so then all of a sudden, hey, ice (that doesn't look so much like ice)... huh? Definitely a weakness. Still a good movie though, and yeah, the whole gang rape angle to the staking scene definitely does give it a sort of sordid tone.
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  6. #6
    This was always my favorite film in the Dracula series.

    This film really has so many things going for it I hardly know where to start. Fisher's direction is as sure as it ever was. The film's plotting seems perfectly timed. The cast is amazing, with Lee giving his best performance as the Count, imo. And there is what I believe to the film's greatest asset/achievement, its cinematography, which is so good at times that it borders on the Bavaesque.

    Too bad about the bd though. All that noise reduction just made it look so flat. And what was with that yellow/green filter? All the screencaps I've seen make it look like everyone has this waxy pallor.

  7. #7
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    It's not terrible in motion. The DNR is there but I didn't find it hugely distracting.
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  8. #8
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    I'd echo what Ian says. In motion, this disc looks much better than the screencaps might suggest.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

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