Dracula: Prince of Darkness (BluRay Review)


I’m fairly eclectic when it comes to horror films. I enjoy the whole spectrum of fright flicks, from the Universal Classics to the atomic age monsters, from Eurohorror to American slashers, I am a fan of all kinds of terror tales on the silver screen. But when I want to evoke the feeling of gothic horror or chilly autumn nights, I can always rely on Hammer Horror for that magical mix of horror, sexuality, and a heaping spoonful of the red stuff… and when looking for the quintessential Hammer Horror film, you might just find it in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, new to BluRay from Millennium Entertainment.

In this sequel to 1958’s The Horror of Dracula, four English tourists travel through the Carpathians, bound for Karlsbad. After ignoring a warning from Father Sandor (Andrew Keir), the travelers find themselves at Castle Dracula, where manservant Klove (Philip Latham) welcomes them for dinner and offers them lodging for the night. It seems the master of the castle, Count Dracula (Christopher Lee), has passed away, but has ordered the castle be ready to take visitors at a moments notice. Of course, Klove dispatches one of the Englishmen and, in a blood sacrifice, resurrects Dracula, who promptly creates a vampire bride and stalks the surviving travelers. Will Father Sandor be able to rescue the vampire’s house-guests, or will Dracula claim them for his army of the undead?

DraculaBluRayWhile it is not quite as entertaining as The Horror Of Dracula, there is a lot to like with Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Hammer Horror is well-represented in this gothic thriller; blood flows in technicolor rivets, Dracula’s bride adds the requisite lesbianism, and the film is full of 1895-via-1966 fashions and hair-styles. They really don’t make ’em like this anymore. Christopher Lee is amazingly menacing as Dracula, complete with blood-red eyes and constantly bared fangs. Dracula has no lines in the film, and, according to whichever story is told, that is a result of no lines being written, or the lines being so atrociously bad that Christopher Lee refused to speak them (the truth seems to fall in the middle, with Lee mostly likely thinking of one of the modern-day Hammer Dracula films he made – but I digress). Whatever the case may be, the silent, hissing Dracula is still frightening, and proves to be a memorable element in a highly enjoyable film.

Millennium’s BluRay of Dracula: Prince of Darkness in nothing short of a labor of love, presenting some beautiful video, satisfying audio, and a decent amount of supplements. The new HD transfer is stunning, and that’s an understatement. Visuals are crisp, blacks are true, and those deep reds are solid and gorgeous. The audio is also great — effects, music, and voices mixed properly enough so that the dialogue doesn’t drown in the effects.

DraculaThe array of supplements is great, too, starting with a commentary with Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Suzan Farmer, and Francis Matthews. Up next is an episode of “The World of Hammer,” focusing on the Hammer films starring Christopher Lee (and narrated by Oliver Reed!). A brand new documentary, “Back To Black” is also included, featuring some of the stars and crew of Dracula: Prince of Darkness, as well as film historians. This is a fantastic documentary, but would have been slightly more helpful if it had included identifying graphics naming the contributors. This is a small issue with an amazing set of extras, which are rounded out by an exclusive still gallery, the restored original trailer, and Super 8mm behind-the-scenes footage. I’d also be remiss not to mention the restoration comparison included, showing how much love actually went into bringing this amazing package to life.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is an entertaining entry into Hammer’s Dracula canon – not the most vital film in the series, but definitely one that provides a great deal of entertainment. Millennium’s presentation of the film is gorgeous, with serviceable audio and a great array of special features. Even in a year where many films have seen decent high-definition releases, Millennium’s release of Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness will easily top many a top ten list for 2013’s releases. Highly recommended.


Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★½☆ 


Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★ 


About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

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