Quantcast

Scars Of Dracula (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory has completed the Hammer Dracula series for North American collectors with 1970s Scars of Dracula starring Christopher Lee. A controversial entry for some of the loyal fans, I find myself on the other side of the fence loving it. The film features a nutso turn from the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. Through both releases from Warner Bros (And Warner Archive Collection) and Scream Factory, you can now own all 9 films that belong in the canon (Yes, the martial arts meets Dracula film Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires officially counts). Scars of Dracula will come with some solid bonus features (Including an archival commentary featuring Christopher Lee) and the ability to watch the film in two different aspect ratios. The sixth film in the series arrives on Blu-ray September 10th. 

Film 

Originally published as a part of the Naptown Nerd Hammer Dracula Retrospective (October 2014)

The legendary Christopher Lee (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, The Lord of the Rings) is back as Dracula, bringing unspeakable horrors upon a local village that defies his evil reign. But when a young man and his luscious girlfriend unwittingly visit the Count’s castle, they find themselves trapped in a face-to-face frenzy of bloodthirsty vixens, religious blasphemy and sadistic henchmen. The prince of darkness has returned like never before, but will his horrific mark remain forever?

Dracula returned once again in the sequel/quasi-reboot Scars Of Dracula, the second film in the franchise released in 1970.  This is also one of the more debated and controversial entries in the series among Hammer fans.  And I will admit, that this film is a little off and feels like territory that’s been covered plenty already.  With all that said, this one turns out to be one of the more watchable and entertaining entries in the series.

To get things kicked off, at random we just get a giant bat flying in and vomiting blood onto Dracula’s remains from the last movie.  Then we get to see his death from the previous film in reverse (a nice money-saving tactic).  And the people in the town don’t mess around, they up and decide, let’s go get this SOB and storm his castle, which they randomly run into a new version of Klove who was last seen in Prince Of Darkness hanging out in the castle.  As much damage as they do, they don’t get Dracula because he’s hanging out below.  But then, this movie cranks it up as vampire bats have massacred the town’s women and children inside a church while the guys were out.  And this is an absolutely graphic and horrifying scene.  Right away, this film has let you know two things; its gonna be a little weird and its gonna be gory.

Gore is one of the big factors that Scars has going for it.  Its taken it up many notches.  There is blood and violence everywhere.  There’s a scene where Dracula stabs the f*** out of his temptress out of nowhere.  While, yes, Dracula should have bit her, this is the 6th movie and my oh my does it shock and take one by surprise.  Scars includes many a grueling death too.  There’s even one guy hanging brutally from a meat hook.  This film is very nasty and has a lot of awesome practical effect work to make ever so gruesome.

Speaking of the guy on the meat hook.  His name is Paul.  For the third straight film in row in this series we have had a main character named Paul.  Is there some sort of inside Hammer humor with the name Paul?  If so, I’m not privy  to it.  I know there’s loose continuity throughout these like any good slasher series, but I find it funny how this name just so happened to keep popping up.  I mean, this was the second Dracula film they did in the same year too.  You would think somebody would be like “Hey, we had a guy named Paul in the last one.”  Nahh…

Scars actually softly tries to reboot the series, so we get another “Guy stumbles upon Dracula’s castle/mansion/home disappears and people go investigating” story.  However, this one uses Paulx3 to sort of fill in for the Jonathan Harker role and they actually get a little closer to the Stoker novel’s story with this retelling.  There are also little details, like Dracula scaling up the castle walls, that also pop in to pay tribute.  I’m not sure why Klove (Now played by former Doctor Who actor, Patrick Troughton) was brought back, and they’ve kind of Renfield’ed him up, but its a nice piece to Dracula’s home dynamic.

Christopher Lee plays a big role in this movie.  Its surprising considering his reluctance in the last few films kept his filming, dialogue and presence to a minimum.  Here he’s giving speeches and interacting throughout the runtime.  He also gets to go back to being his diplomatic self for a few scenes and then turning into the menacing monster we know him as at different times.  In this film in particular, he’s almost at his most intense and vicious of them all.  Could Mr. Lee have actually been having fun again or thrown in the proverbial “Eh, can’t escape it, might as well embrace it” towel for Scars?  This is one factor this movie has over all the rest so far.  I think he may have more lines and screen time than even Horror Of Dracula.

As has been tradition with these, I enjoy discussing how they do away with the Count in these movies.  And Scars does not disappoint.  Like the movie itself, its both random and awesome.  Simon first throws a metal rod like a javelin into Dracula.  Dracula pulls it out like “Haha! What now, fool?” and as he does the rod is struck by lightning (Because the weather is always stormy during a horror climax, duh!).  Dracula then bursts into flames and is waving all about going crazy.  He then takes a plunge off the castle all the way down off the cliff.  Not may personal favorite, but it is definitely up there.  Pretty awesome.  MUCH better than last time.

Scars Of Dracula doesn’t cover much new territory at all.  In fact, its a soft retelling of the original Bram Stoker tale with different characters.  It’s how they tell this story that brings the fun.  Admittedly, the film is a bit silly and weird.  You have to deal with a fake ass giant flying bat roaming around and attacking people.  But, with the weirdness also comes an increase in the intensity and suspense levels coupled with a big increase in the gore department.  There’s also a little more sex in this one, coupled with nudity and much more cleavage.  Scars is sort of the exploitative take on the Hammer Dracula films.  Judging it on pure movie merits, it may sound kinda boring or like a bad one, but the enjoyment factor in watching Scars rises above a good chunk of the series.  The seventh Hammer Dracula film is a dumb and completely entertaining watch.  Scars of Dracula is exactly what we are needing after Taste the Blood of Dracula.  I am fully aware the film has a lot of detractors, but I’ll stand up for it no problem.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1, 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scars of Dracula arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with the ability to watch the film in 2 different aspect ratios. The transfers on both look rather identical to one another. The transfer in question is undoubtedly the same one used on the UK version from Studio Canal. Which is a good thing, because that release was terrific (Even making my Best Of list that year). It features terrific color saturation, romantic blacks and impressive amounts of detail that shine through in this fresh, crisp and very cinematic, theatrical presentation looking image.

Depth:  This film features a pretty impressive pushback and looseness thanks to keeping the grain structure intact. Model shots really feel free and showcase distance, while interiors have a nice bunch of distancing and between fore, mid and background objects. Movements are cinematic and smooth.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and closer to natural than gray. Details for the most part are not lost among the shadows or darkness of th clothing or surfaces. Grain is a bit heavier when its darker, but no crushing happens in the image.

Color Reproduction: Colors have a real nice, natural look to them but pave the way for certain articles to stand out. Red curtains are rich and burst off the screen. Ditto a hooded cape that Jenny Hanley wears that looks absolutely marvelous and wows the room every time she enters.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Details and textures are telling in close up shots and most all medium shots. Especially notable is the make-up on Lee’s face being more discernible than ever as well as the dried blood, stubble, wrinkles and more on characters.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Scars of Dracula comes with its original mono presentation. This is a pretty well nuanced track with some good balance and depth to it. It has also carries some good low frequencies as well. Overall, this is a terrific presentation and one of the better Hammer audio tracks from Scream Factory.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. This one is in good shape with no real analog issues.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr and film historian Randall Larson
  • With star Christopher Lee and director Roy Ward Baker, moderated by Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn

Blood Rites: Inside Scars Of Dracula (HD, 18:03) – This is the same “talking heads” retrospective that appears on the UK Studio Canal release. Star of the film Jenny Hanley, editor (not of this film) Kevin Lyons, authors Jonathan Rigby and Alan Barnes and cultural historian John J. Johnston discuss all things related to the history of this Hammer production.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 5:05) 

Still Gallery (HD, 10:20)

Summary 

Scars of Dracula is a blast to watch and a Hammer Dracula film I continue to return to more than many of the others in the series. Its goofy and gory and a lot of fun. There’s potential that it could be the most comfortable watch for modern audience sensibilities, too. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray brings the film to the US with a fine picture and audio presentation and a solid group of extras for a pretty complete release as you’re going to get with a film of this type and age. A must have for Hammer fans!

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Scars Of Dracula (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Alan Toner

    A great review of one of my all time favourite Hammer Dracula films! I totally agree with everything you said about this goofy but great movie. I too have returned to it many, many times. Plus it stars the gorgeous Jenny Hanley. What more could a Hammer fan possibly ask for?