In the film “Scars of Dracula,” BAFTA Academy Fellowship Winner Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man) portrays the iconic Dracula. At the start of the film an imposing bat hovers above Dracula’s ash filled coffin. The bat drips blood from its fangs. Once the blood touches the ashes, Dracula begins to materialize; replete with the alabaster skin tone, bloodshot eyes and jutting fangs. The menacing and murderous Dracula needs blood to survive, and it doesn’t take long before people from the nearest village, and unsuspecting travelers, fall victim to his blood lust. An angry group of villagers, led by the innkeeper (Michael Ripper) storms the castle and sets it ablaze. They fail in their attempt, however, to destroy Dracula, and the consequences for their actions are dire for those who they love.
Coinciding with Dracula’s re-birth are events that take place in the town of Kleinenberg. Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) is on the run. He was having a tryst with the burgomaster’s (Bob Todd) daughter Alice (Delia Lindsay). Paul needed to leave, but Alice wanted him to spend the night. When he refuses, and her father comes home, she accuses Paul of trying to have his way with her.
The place Paul needed to be is his younger brother Simon’s (Dennis Waterman) fiancé Sarah’s (Jenny Hanley) birthday party. While he does make it the party, two guards, one of whom is played by BAFTA winner David Leland (Wish You Were Here), are in pursuit of him. He flees and will eventually wind up at Castle Dracula.
When he doesn’t return, Simon goes looking for Paul. Sarah insists that she go with him. Arriving at the castle, they first encounter Klove, Dracula’s badly scarred servant. The part of Klove is played by Patrick Troughton (Doctor Who). Klove is taken with Sarah. She might be the only reason the couple make it out of the situation alive. (As an aside: Troughton portrayed the second incarnation of the Doctor from 1966 through 1969, on the immensely popular and long running British science fiction television series, Doctor Who).
What will Simon and Sarah find when they get to Castle Dracula? Is Paul still alive? Can Dracula be defeated? All of those questions and more will be answered by the conclusion of the film’s runtime which is 95 minutes.
Trivia buffs take note: “Scars of Dracula” was the sixth film in Hammer’s Dracula series. BAFTA winner Peter Cushing (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) was offered a starring role in the film, but had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts. In “The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires” (1974), John Forbes – Robertson became the only other actor who portrayed Dracula in a Hammer Film, besides Christopher Lee. “Scars of Dracula” is one of four Dracula films made in 1970, in which Lee acted in the role of Dracula. The other three were “Count Dracula,” “One More Time,” and “Taste the Blood of Dracula.”
“Scars of Dracula” was directed by Roy Ward Baker (Asylum). The screenplay was written by Anthony Hinds (Legend of the Werewolf), based on characters created by Bram Stoker in his novel “Dracula.” The horror film premiered in the United Kingdom on November 8, 1970. (As an aside: Dracula was first published in London on May 26, 1897 by Archibald Constable and Company).
The film didn’t have a large budget to work with, but the sets, as well as the use of atmosphere were utilized well. Hammer films, usually didn’t contain as much blood as “Scars of Dracula.” Lee was given more dialogue than he often was in films in which he played Dracula. The ensemble cast did a competent job with their respective roles, and Lee completely embodied the Dracula character. Recommended for fans of Christopher Lee, Hammer films, and those viewers who like vintage horror movies.