Scars of Dracula (1970)

Look into my eyes...
Look into my eyes…
Bat attack!

SCARS OF DRACULA breaks the continuity that had been maintained in the previous Hammer Dracula movies and begins in Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. In this opening scene we see the Count’s remains lying on a plinth in a castle chamber… and then a large (model) bat flies in and flaps over the plinth, regurgitating blood onto the Count’s remains! The remains, of course, start to react to the dripped blood and Dracula is once more reanimated!

Blood-drooling bat!
Blood-drooling bat!
Poster
Poster

This film, directed by Roy Ward Baker (who made one of my all-time favourite Hammer films: QUATERMASS AND THE PIT), is disliked by many, but I rather like some of the elements in this flawed, colourful Hammer romp.

Jenny Hanley and Dennis Waterman
Jenny Hanley and Dennis Waterman

The tone veers all over the place: one minute there’s a massacre of women and children by a flock of bats in the church, then there’s a Benny Hill-style moment with the naked Burgomaster’s daughter, then later we get Dracula torturing his servant with a red-hot sword.

The ravaged church
The ravaged church
A victim of the church massacre
A victim of the church massacre
Benny Hill Show regular Bob Todd played the Burgomaster
Benny Hill Show regular Bob Todd played the Burgomaster
Gore!
Gore!
Some more gore!
Some more gore!
Dracula brandishes the red-hot sword
Dracula brandishes the red-hot sword

One of the real positives with this movie is that Christopher Lee does get more to do in this entry: he stabs his vampire bride (Anouska Hempel) to death with a dagger because she slept with a visitor, he commands big bats, he climbs up a castle wall and, basically, he has more time on-screen, sometimes acting civil & courteous, whilst at other times acting savagely.

Anouska Hempel
Anouska Hempel
The Count climbs up the wall
The Count climbs up the wall
Michael Ripper is the pub landlord
Michael Ripper is the pub landlord

But there are quite a few silly moments… such as when Dracula’s eyes ‘glow’ through his eyelids to hypnotise the hero and the scenes with the model bats on fishing lines, which are unintentionally comical, flappy things. These bats were built by Roger (THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT) Dicken and are definitely not the best movie creatures he’s ever created.
Some of these shortcomings can definitely be blamed on the movie’s budgeting problems and a short schedule.

I'm sorry, but this effect just looks plain silly
I’m sorry, but this effect just looks plain silly

The story is rather repetitious, but Jenny Hanley looks gorgeous, there’s an attempt to add more gore (such as the attack by a bat on a priest), and Patrick Troughton, as Dracula’s servant Klove, plays an interesting role in that he disobeys his master occasionally to help the heroine.

Jenny Hanley
Jenny Hanley
Klove pays for his disobedience...
Klove pays for his disobedience…

So, my verdict is that this film is flawed but fun.

Dracula during the film's finale...
Dracula during the film’s finale…
Death by lightning bolt
Death by lightning bolt

Here’s a Hammer studios promotional flyer, illustrated by Tom Chantrell, for SCARS OF DRACULA.

Promotional flyer
Promotional flyer

And here are some b/w studio photos of posed shots that were used by Chantrell for reference for the flyer…

Photo reference used by Tom Chantrell
Photo reference used by Tom Chantrell

Some posters…

Italian poster
Italian poster
German poster
German poster
French poster
French poster
Belgian poster
Belgian poster
Another Italian poster
Another Italian poster
UK DVD cover
UK DVD cover
US double-feature poster
US double-feature poster

Cover for a Derann Super 8 home movie…

Super 8 colour and sound
Super 8 colour and sound

And finally, here’s a publicity photo…

Jenny Hanley and a bloody big bat!
Jenny Hanley and a bloody big bat!

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