• A young man (Christopher Matthews) running from the law ends up at an ominous castle and goes missing. Thus his brother and a friend (Dennis Waterman & Jenny Hanley) travel to the dubious dwelling to find him, but come face-to-face with a formidable fiend (Christopher Lee).

    "Scars of Dracula" (1970) is a sort of reboot of the Hammer series in that it's basically a redo of Lee's first two stabs at the undead Count: "Horror of Dracula" (1958) and "Dracula, Prince of Darkness" (1966), not to mention it mixes in aspects of "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" (1968) and, most significantly, the plot of "Psycho" (1960). For those who question the latter, just reread the plot description above.

    Some viewers gripe that this one doesn't fit the chronology of the series for a couple of reasons, yet these supposed conundrums are easily explained: Dracula was reduced to dust at the end of the prior film, "Taste the Blood of Dracula" (1970), but Klove had instructions to seek out and acquire the Count's ashes if he was ever slain and bring them back to the castle in Transylvania where one of his creatures of the night would supply the blood necessary to resurrect the Prince of Darkness. As for the differences in the look of the castle, Hammer had moved to a different studio and so of course it looks different than it did when they made "Horror of Dracula" thirteen years earlier.

    Although marred by the cheesy bat sequences, "Scars of Dracula" is one of the more entertaining installments due to the spirited Paul, a bit o' genuine amusement in the first act and a generally compelling story (hey, it worked for "Psycho," why wouldn't it work here?). The female cast doesn't hurt, particularly the lovely Hanley as Sarah, but also Anouska Hempel (Tania), Delia Lindsay (Alice) and Wendy Hamilton (Julie).

    For those interested, Hammer did nine Dracula-themed films from 1958 to 1974 as follows:

    Horror of Dracula (1958); The Brides of Dracula (1960); Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966); Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968); Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970); Scars of Dracula (1970); Dracula AD 1972 (1972); The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973); and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974). Lee plays Dracula in all of them except "Brides" and "7 Golden Vampires" while Peter Cushing appears in five of them as a Van Helsing.

    The film runs 1 hour, 35 minutes, and was shot at Elstree Studios & nearby Scratchwood, just northwest of London.

    GRADE: B.