Thursday, July 10, 2014

Scars of Dracula: Limited Edition

Scars of Dracula: Limited Edition (1970)
Movie rating: 5/10
DVD rating: 8/10
Release Date: 2001
Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Rating: R
Distributor: Anchor Bay
List Price: $24.98
Disc Details
Special Features:  Widescreen format.
Commentary by Christopher Lee! and director Roy Ward Baker.
Chapter selection.
US and UK trailers.
Poster and still gallery.
Talent bios.
BONUS DISK: The Many Faces of Christopher Lee. (includes chapter selection and 2 music videos)
Video Format: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Languages: English (Dolby Digital) 2.0
Captions: None.
Casing: 2-Disc Keep Case

The glory of the House of Hammer films came to an end in the early 70s with the release of several tired and lame films. While there were a large number of very good Horror films put out by Hammer during this period, their power as a studio began to decline. Rather than take the time to think about how to reinvigorate their market, Hammer gave decided to take advantage of the loosened restrictions on film making and rely on sex and violence. While sex and violence can be an integral part of an excellent movie, sex and violence for its own sake, without a good story line is usually the sign of a weak film.

"Scars of Dracula" falls into the latter category. While Christopher Lee is given more screen time and dialogue than in the 4 prior outings, that alone is not enough to make up for the film's flaws.

Studio budget concerns caused Hammer to rush this film into production with a small budget. As a result, the film is not as visually or stylistically exciting as previous efforts. Also disturbing is the amount of sadism present in this movie. Dracula brutally stabs one of his female vampire cohorts after catching her in bed with the hero. In another scene, he tortures his caveman like assistant.

The film was heralded for one particular shot of Lee scaling the wall of his castle in a batlike manner. The scene is poorly executed. It looks like nothing more than Mr. Lee walking across a floor in a crouched position. The same idea was executed much better in "Dracula" with Frank Langella and the TV version of "Dracula" with Jack Palance.

I'm glad I have the disk because I am a big fan of Christopher Lee and Hammer films. It is my least favorite of his Dracula films, but it is still better than a hoard of imitators.

The Disc
Another fine Hammer DVD by Anchor Bay. The commentary track is excellent. The picture and sound are good. The bonus disk about Christopher Lee sealed the deal for me.

Picture Quality: 8/10
While the movie isn't as lush as many earlier Hammer films, the cinematography was adequate considering the budget. Anchor Bay does the best they can with the source material.

Sound Quality: 7/10
The sound isn't bad, but again, it is in mono. You have to consider the source material.

Menu: 10/10
Nice use of the movie's images and sounds. Again, I raise my one complaint about Anchor Bay's menus: no pictures on the chapter selection menu. There are pictures on the chapter selection on the Bonus Disk though!

Extra Features: 10/10
Being a Christopher Lee fan, I rate this high. The commentary track with Mr. Lee, director Baker and film historian Marcus Hearn is very good. They talk in detail about Hammer films in general, and to a certain degree about this particular movie.

I also liked the bonus disk. The hour long documentary about Christopher Lee takes you through his entire career. There are also a couple of Music Videos that Mr. lee did with musician Gary Curtis. The first is a duet with Lee singing "O Sole Mio" to Curtis' "It's Now of Never." The second is an embarrassing country tune called "She'll Fall For Me." While neither video will inspire repeated viewing, they are fun for fans. I am not a fan of opera, but Mr. Lee's baritone is not bad.

The Final Word:
Hammer fans and Christopher Lee fans will want this for the permanent library despite the fact that the movie itself isn't that good. There are great extras concerning both Hammer films and Mr. Lee's career.

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