10 July 2005 | lost-in-limbo
Reasonable latter-day Hammer.
Three wealthy gentlemen go out during one night of the month for pleasure seeking (supposedly for charity the wives think) and are becoming incredibly bored in what they do in that time, as they think that they've done everything. That's until they meet Lord Courtley (Ralph Bates) who claims he can give them power if they join him in some ritual to recreate his dead master, but first they have to buy a certain item off a shopkeeper to perform this task. So, with the help of Dracula's servant Lord Courtley they meet in a rundown chapel to revive Dracula (Christopher Lee) from his ashes, but they chicken out of fulfilling their end of the bargain and to keep this quiet they kill the servant. Thinking that it will just blow over, but there wrong as now Dracula has been revived through his servants' corpse and he plans to take vengeance on those three for killing his servant.
Decent latter-day hammer effort that has very good production valves and some solid performances on show. The polished Victorian sets standout with sharp detail and great use of shadowy and dim lighting for its Gothic atmosphere. Though, the atmosphere was good it wasn't that grand in stature and it's not terribly suspenseful as we've seen it all before. The overall feel might come across a rather glum, but it has its lively parts and an undertone of pervading sexuality and flesh for some added boost. The compellingly clever plot is well thought out to begin with (great intro) and there are some unpredictable moments, but then it does seem to follow the usual pattern of the earlier Hammer Dracula's and ends rather unconvincingly after it looked like there was going to be an exciting finale. After a promising first half it does kind of drag in parts after the resurrection of Dracula and comes up with an uninspiring romance tale. The script is utter ham and quite stilted. Christopher Lee as Dracula doesn't really get that much too do, but whenever on screen his presence or quick flashes has some hypnotic pull making you wish he had more screen time. Most of the time his sneaking about in the background, counting down his victims in a husky voice (1,2 & 3) and giving orders to others (their children) to do his dirty work. Most of the performances were good (some deadpan) from the likes of Geoffrey Keen, Peter Sallis and John Carson as the three gentlemen and Ralph Bates as Lord Courtley is incredibly over-the-top, but seemed well suited for it. The ladies of the film or you should say Dracula's victims Isla Blair and the ravishing Linda Hayden give fair performances and some added eye-candy. The direction by Peter Sasdy is top-notch in delivery and he adds in some great sequences. The fine camera-work had sprawling crane and ground shots. While not forgetting the look into my eyes camera zooms too. Even the make-up and gore effects (nice flowing rich blood) were pretty well conceived and didn't come across as too wretched. Another highlight of the film would have to be piercing, but also moody music score.
Anyway maybe the formula was starting to wear thin in this film? Well, it does rehash certain elements and the usual clichés follow, but what do you expect from these campy hammer films. Its their trademark and has been a winning formula for them.
A mildly enjoyable hammer film, even if it's by the books.