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Dracula: Prince of Darkness

(1966, Fisher)

"You forget about all of this in the morning, you'll see."
"There'll be no morning for us."

Dracula: Prince of Darkness follows two couples that unsuspectingly walk into Dracula's Castle, not realizing that this could mean there'll be no morning for them. The above quote is the sentence uttered by Helen (Barbara Shelley) to her husband, as she realizes they might walked into their own doom, despite the warnings from rogue-ish Father Sandor (Andrew Keir).

This film is set some time after the events of Dracula (1958), something I didn't know when I chose it, since I haven't seen it. However, the film includes a brief prologue that replays the final scenes from that film to keep us up to speed. With Dracula dead, the town has descended into a sort of paranoia to avoid something like that from happening again; something that I wish the film would've leaned more into.

Despite all of this warnings and the fact that they're left stranded by their fear-stricken driver, Helen and her husband Alan (Charles Tingwell), along with his brother Charles (Francis Matthews) and his wife Diana (Suzan Farmer) get too close to the castle, and end up enticed by its luxuries. But as one might expect, this will eventually lead to Dracula (Christopher Lee) being brought back to life, putting all of their lives in danger.

At the end of the day, Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a perfectly serviceable vampire film, just not very memorable. First, the four main characters act like annoying idiots, especially Charles, who ends up being the lead. As a matter of fact, it is Helen the one who seems to be the one with most common sense, despite being portrayed a bit nagging.

I also wish there was more done with Father Sandor. It felt as if they were setting him up, and his clashes with the village, for something more but it didn't happen. Either way, there are some genuinely eerie and scary moments, and the film is overall enjoyable. The set design and overall production values are solid, and Philip Latham delivers a creepy performance as Dracula's servant, Klove.

One thing that felt a bit awkward was to see Lee act as Dracula but with no lines of dialogue. Rumor has it that he read his lines in the script and told the producers "if you think I'm going to say any of these lines, you're very much mistaken." This is denied by screenwriter John Sansom, who claims he didn't write any lines for him. Regardless of who you believe, it's still an odd choice that makes the film not that memorable, but rather something we might forget in the morning.