Dracula: Prince of Darkness was Hammer’s third Dracula film and the second to feature the sartorial talents of Christopher Lee in the lead role. Because of Lee’s reluctance to become too firmly associated with the role of Count Dracula Hammer had to wait eight years before Lee was willing to accommodate a repeat performance. Unfortunately it wasn’t worth the wait, though the public at the time embraced the film and made it a commercial success. Lee was united with other key personnel from the 1958 production; Jimmy Sangster provided a screenplay based on an Anthony Hinds story, stalwart gothic horror director Terence Fisher was on hand to bring the film to visual life, James Bernard provided another memorable score, and Bernard Robinson endowed the film with his customary lavish production design. However the absence of Peter Cushing as Dracula’s nemesis Dr. Van Helsing leaves a void in the proceedings that Andrew Keir’s savant Father Sandor is unable to fill. Keir does a professional job, but his brusque and boorish manner lacks the air of intellectual dignity and physical vulnerability of Cushing’s more subtle and nuanced character.
© Shaun Anderson 2011