Scars of Dracula (1970)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1970|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Roy Ward Baker|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Scars of Dracula was the fifth of seven Hammer films to feature Christopher Lee as the fabled vampire, and the last to be set in the period in which the original novel was written.
In this film, a group of villagers led by the local innkeeper burn Dracula's castle, but fail to destroy the vampire menace.
Years later, a student named Paul (Christopher Matthews) is on the run from the police after an encounter with the Burgomaster's daughter. Arriving in the small village, the innkeeper kicks him out as he arrived after dark, and he ventures to the nearby castle, where he meets Dracula and the voluptuous Tania (Anouska Hempel).
Following Paul's disappearance, Paul's brother Simon and their mutual love interest Sarah set out to look for him. When they chance upon the same inn, the innkeeper throws them out as soon as Simon starts asking questions about his brother. The barmaid tells them that Paul went to the castle, so they make their way there - not the most sensible idea when Dracula is on the prowl.
While not up to the standard of the 1958 film which started the series, this is a reasonably well made and enjoyable film. The script is standard Hammer fare, but the performances and the direction by Roy Ward Baker are good enough to lift this above the average horror flick, although they seemed to be running out of ideas for resurrecting and destroying the Count. Christopher Lee thought enough of the script to speak the lines given to him, unlike his silent turn in Dracula, Prince of Darkness. The model work for the castle is good, although the special effects rubber bats on wires must have been laughable even by the standards of the time. There is some at-times sadistic violence, unusually for a Dracula film of this time.
Fans of Minder will be amused to see a young Dennis Waterman in the role of Simon. Jenny Hanley's voice was considered unsuitable for the role of Sarah and her voice was dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl. Patrick Troughton, who had just finished his stint as Doctor Who, puts in a very good performance as Dracula's lackey Klove, resisting the temptation to play him like a drooling idiot. Michael Ripper, who appeared in more Hammer films than any other actor, gives his usual sterling performance as the surly innkeeper. The Benny Hill Show is represented by Bob Todd as the Burgomaster, in which role he overacts terribly.
The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
Generally speaking, this is an excellent transfer. The film is very sharp and the colour is rich and vibrant. Flesh tones are lifelike and blacks are very black. Shadow detail is average, although very little of the film occurs in low lighting. Even the night scenes were shot in daylight.
The film has not been restored, and you can see small white spots and flecks from time to time. Early in the film there are also some faint vertical scratches, but these disappear after a few minutes. There is omnipresent film grain, but while noticeable, it is not distracting. Otherwise the source material was in excellent condition.
Video artefacts are limited to some slight motion blurring, most noticeable on Michael Ripper's face during the opening sequences.
No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.
The only audio track is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The film was originally released with a monaural soundtrack, so we are missing nothing by not having a surround or stereo audio track.
The audio quality is excellent. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There is no audible hiss, though the dynamic range of the sound is limited.
Audio sync is very good, with the occasional exception of the lip-syncing of Jenny Hanley's dialogue.
The music score is by Hammer veteran James Bernard, and is up to his usual high standard.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is the original UK trailer for the film, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. This looks like it is the original aspect ratio, and the trailer is in almost as good a state as the feature. This is still short measure for an extra, but is better than nothing.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film has been released in Region 1 by Anchor Bay. In comparison to the Region 1, the Region 4 misses out on:
The first 10,000 copies of the Region 1 DVD also get a second disc featuring:
In comparison to the Region 4, the Region 1 misses out on:
The Region 1 transfer is apparently of the same quality as the Region 4, so on the basis of the extras the Region 1 is clearly the winner. In case you are wondering, Lee had some training and experience in opera, and apparently he is quite a good singer.
There is also a Region 2 French release with the same commentary, trailer, photo gallery and biographies as the Region 1, but which also has an optional French soundtrack and optional French subtitles, plus an introduction by Jean-Pierre Dionnet and production notes. This version would also be a winner over the Region 4, but not in preference to the Region 1.
A good entry in Hammer's Dracula series gets a very good transfer. Recommended if the Region 1 extras do not appeal.
The video quality is excellent but falls short of perfection.
The audio quality is excellent.
The trailer is a nice extra but falls far short of the extras available in Regions 1 and 2.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Yamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|