It is 1895. Four travellers are left abandoned at nightfall at a lonely crossroad in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe by a local coach driver who is afraid to proceed any further.
The four – Alan Kent (Charles Tingwell); his wife, Helen (Barbara Shelley); his brother, Charles (Francis Matthews); and Charles’ wife, Diana (Suzan Farmer) – are subsequently collected by a driverless coach and taken to a castle where the dining table is already laid for them.
They are served dinner by a manservant, but there is no sign of the master of the house. When they ask if he is indisposed, they are told by the servant, Klove (Philip Latham) that he is, in fact, dead but left orders to welcome all strangers with the finest hospitality. Why would a dead man be interested in entertaining guests?
The travellers have entered the home of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) and will soon provide the blood he requires to bring him back to life, in a spectacular resurrection sequence. Christopher Lee has no lines – uttering just a single scream in the whole film – but is truly manacing throughout.
Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) fills the usual Van Helsing role as the expert vampire hunter.
Dracula: Prince of Darkness – a sequel to Hammer’s Dracula (1958) – is a gothic masterpiece from Hammer. The film was made back-to-back with Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), using many of the same cast members and sets.
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell