Awakened by a bat vomiting blood onto his desiccated remains (we’ve all had nights like that, right?), Dracula (Christopher Lee) returns to life, back in his castle and ready to take in the local nightlife. Outraged at the Count’s tendency to nibble his way through their town’s young women, the men of the village rise up and attack Castle Dracula, setting it on fire. But the fire cannot reach Dracula’s new digs, which are only accessible through a window on a sheer castle wall over a precipice. When the would-be arsonists return to their village, they find every single woman and child who they had left behind sheltering in the church slaughtered. Dracula is not fucking around this time. Meanwhile, saucy libertine Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) flees the bedchamber of his latest conquest after her father, the local Burgermaster, interrupts them and finds himself lost and abandoned near Castle Dracula. Welcomed in by Dracula’s manservant Klove he finds himself in mortal peril as a guest of Count Dracula himself and it’s up to Paul’s brother to rescue him.
The second Hammer Horror film starring Christopher Lee as Dracula to be released in 1970, it’s also a significant tonal shift from the decadent devilry of “Taste The Blood Of Dracula”. This time around, there’s a sexy, lascivious frivolity to the whole affair…you know, apart from all the women and children being brutally butchered in the church. It’s a mix that clots together in a surprisingly entertaining fashion even if the early antics of Paul Carson (and the musical cues that accompany them) feel more like they’ve been lifted from a saucy seventies ‘Confessions Of A Coffin Polisher’, all buxom wenches and lusty larks.
It’s not long before we get down to some more atmospheric horror hijinks, though, with Lee’s still-terrific Count bolstered by freshly degenerated ex-Doctor Who Patrick Troughton as his hirsute henchman Klove. Our hero, though, is Paul’s brother Simon, played by Dennis Waterman who disappointingly neither wrote nor sung the theme tune.
It’s an action-packed outing too, with plenty of swashbuckling and Lee getting more involved in the action than usual. Dracula’s sleeping arrangements may be lifted straight out of Stoker’s original novel but Dracula sleeping in a chamber with a window open to the sunlight raises a few more questions than it answers but makes for some hair-raising set pieces as our band of would-be vampire slayers attempt to beard the lion in his den.
In the end, it’s a frenetic free-for-all finale that sees Dracula battling multiple attackers on the battlements of his castle and eventually succumbing to a brand new kill combo of being stabbed, struck by lightning and set of fire. It may pump up the sex and violence at the expense of the classier side of Hammer Horror and is often looked down on as one of the trashier of Lee’s outings but for all its tackiness, “Scars Of Dracula” is one of the most fun of his movies, and certainly one of my favourite Dractober watches so far.