Continuity was never the strongest of suits for the various scribes that had the task of writing for Hammer’s Dracula and Frankenstein cycles. However the first four Dracula adventures did at least try to follow on from one another (usually with a rushed pre-credits sequence). Scars of Dracula completely does away with series continuity to such a degree that it almost feels like a prequel. The screenplay by Anthony Hinds makes no efforts to link with past films in the series which is very surprising when one considers that Scars of Dracula was released mere months after the Count’s previous instalment Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970). Where that film explored the hypocrisies of Victorian patriarchy to good effect, Scars explores…well, nothing!
There are no layers of meaning here, no thematic depth. This is pure escapist horror fantasy of the highest order and were it not for the unusually gruesome special effects it would be very suitable for anyone under the age of ten. Instead of the usual build up of suspense that comes with the resurrection of Dracula this film opens with The Count’s return to mortality. This occurs when an unconvincing rubber bat pukes up blood onto Dracula’s powdery remains. Cue a lot of cheap camera tricks, superimposition, dissolves, and once again the sombre countenance of Christopher Lee glares into the camera. Within no time Dracula and his very active bats (considering how crap the bats are it seems lunacy to have them in the film so much) are wreaking havoc among the peasants of the village. Like all good angry mobs they decide to torch the castle, but on returning to their church discover their wives and girlfriends slaughtered by Dracula’s bats. This scene is one of the best in the film, but highlights the extent to which Scars of Dracula upped the quotient of blood. At this point I was rather enjoying the film, until we cut to the bland romantic leads that always spoil gothic horror.
© Shaun Anderson 2010