2011
03.15

EP40: Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Deep in the castle’s crypt, the master has been awakened by the spilling of innocent blood. With torches lit, your handsome hosts descend the stone stairs in search of answers to this ancient evil. And they will find them. So will you when you listen to their commentary on the 1966 fang-tacular film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Follow Matt and Jason as they cast their torchlights on sensitive British children, drunken seduction, relationship age differences, “nose cones”, Matt’s bachelor lair makeover, favorite Renfields, and all the grandeur captured under the terrifying cloak of Hammer Films. Once the creature of the night has been vanquished, join M&J as they chat about their latest DVD viewings. It’ll be a bloody good time!

Hammer Films | MPAA… Meet The BBFC | Color Me Blood Red | Magic Underwear | Horror of Dracula | Sometimes I Miss VHS | Whore’s Blood: A Real Killer | Thunderbirds are GO! | Boone’s Farm | Hammer Soundtrack Compilations | Candle Snuffer | Make Your Own Kensington Gore | Is It Burger Time Yet? | Arte Johnson in Love At First Bite | Gobble Down Some Spotted Dick | I’m Trapped Under Ice!

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12 comments so far

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  1. Oh yes, more Hammer is always more than welcome. This and the Gorgon was my introduction into Hammer Horror. Since then, I have been a very avid fan of the studio. I look forward to listening to this particular podcast. It will be sweet. Thanks guys, for the work and pleasure that you put into each podcast.

    • It is certainly our pleasure, sir! As long as we are having fun and encouraging smiles the endeavor shall continue, so thanks for letting us know of your approval. Enjoy!

  2. I think D:PoD, along with Brides of Dracula are probably Hammer’s two greatest achievements in technicolor.

    As for the film itself, D:PoD is, by far and away, my favourite of the Dracula cycle. Also probably one the very best Hammers made, imo. Right up there with The Gorgon, Curse of the Werewolf, and Quartermass and the Pit (All three of which are deserving of the TT treatment, in my humble estimation.).

    Another thing I really like about this film, aside from its borderline Bava-esque color schemes, is that it is really well paced, unlike the rest of the Dracula which followed like Taste The Blood Of Dracula/Scars of Dracula.

    • The color schemes on this film really are quite smashing and I agree that the cycle declined shortly after the making of the film Quatermass and the Pit. After Tony Hinds left the company they were kind of feeling around in the dark for the remainder of their years. Not to say the latter day films were without merit, but they certainly were imbued with a spirit of compromise and penny-pinching which the early films managed to overcome through the craftsmanship of the many seasoned veterans in their stable. The Bray years were, no doubt, the company in it’s prime but the world would not be nearly as enjoyable for me without films like Countess Dracula and The Vampire Lovers. ANY Hammer film of ANY era still manages to stand head and shoulders above the competition in my estimation, although Amicus and AIP of the 60s certainly make an argument against.

      So tell me, do you miss Peter Cushing/Van Helsing even the least little bit with this film?

      • I have the old Anchor Bay clam-shell of DPod with the documentary that Matt was talking about and I recall that Christopher Lee went on talking about how painful those contacts were.

        It gave me a chuckle when I saw Ed Wood with the scene of the cadre driving down to the premier of Bride of the Atom. The actor playing Tor Johnson was wearing some of those large contacts and complaining about how much they hurt!

        I don’t believe that there are too many actors left who would endure pain for their art like the greats of the past. Maybe that explains the crappy modern “acting.”

        • I would agree somewhat on this point, Roland. Actors (prima donnas) of today seem to have a stand-in for just about everything. I would wager money that they don’t even have to take a shit themselves! They probably have a personal assistant do it so they won’t get their hands dirty or besmirch their carefully guarded reputations. “Be sure to wipe thrice now, Timmy!”

          One of the major themes that I gather from reading and conducting interviews with the stars of yesterday is that they all regarded acting in films as a job first and an art second. They took great pride in their work and did their best with the roles they were allotted, but at the end of the day they never forgot that they were simply “making faces” for a living. This among other factors allowed a pervasive atmosphere of playfulness on set which, of course, carried over into the films themselves. I get the exact opposite feeling from the actors of today who by and large carry a great deal of weighty pretensions about their professions around in their swollen heads. I have nothing against someone who takes their art seriously, but when it stops communicating an atmosphere of fun onto the screen you can count me out as an audience member.

          Case in point: Lon Chaney Jr. in the Wolfman VS. Benicio Del Toro in The Wolfman. ‘Nuff said!

          • I see what you mean. I think that ole’ Vincent Price was a perfect example of the approach that you are talking about. I suspect, though, that he enjoyed acting for more than just a job. You can tell that he was really having fun.

            You are obviously more informed about this subject than me but the actors who see their profession as an art aren’t willing to truly make it an art. It seems to me to be purely pretension.

            I see that Haxan has been posted and I can’t wait.

            Ever Forward!

  3. Did I miss Cushing/Van Helsing? No, tbh, I didn’t, but that was because of the fine performance of Andrew Keir, who, basically was a stand-in for Van Helsing.

    Another reason Cushing’s absence wasn’t at all that noticeable was due simply to how well the film looks and was made. As I’ve said previously, D:PoD isn’t just the best vampire film Hammer made, but one of the very best films that their studio ever produced.

    As Cushing, I must admit that I find him much more interesting as Dr. Frankenstein or Sherlock Holmes than I ever did as Van Helsing. The Van Helsing character is really nothing more than a one-dimensional religious bigot, and while Cushing played him with his usual gentlemanly aplomb, the character is so generally unappealing, that I really find the films he’s not in to be more interesting. Of course this isn’t to say that I don’t find Horror/Brides of Dracula to masterpieces, it’s just that seeing Cushing as the amoral Dr. F is just as far more satisfying experience.

    I also agree with you that even the lesser Hammer films from the later period are still remain quite enjoyable, even if they weren’t made to the exacting standards of their predecessors. But even in “decline” Hammer proved it could still make brilliant works of art like the Vampire Lovers, Twins of Evil, and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Probably shouldn’t forget the Devil Rides Out as well. Even though it’s laced with puerile sense of RHP good vs. evil, I still find it to b a very enjoyable film.

  4. Roland writes above – “the actors who see their profession as an art aren’t willing to truly make it an art. It seems to me to be purely pretension” – and I would have to nod my head in approval. The actors of today (with some notable exceptions) seem to be more concerned with looking good on camera and landing roles that maximize their star potential than creating ‘art’ as he puts it, but I think it is also a condemnation of the U.S. filmmakers and audiences of our time. Our films seem to have lost the magic and mystery of representational atmosphere in place of ultra-realism and psychological severity. Think of what someone like Vinnie Price could have done with the Tobin Bell Jigsaw character from the Saw series of films because, after all, aren’t they little more than our crushingly oppressive and nihilistic update of the Dr. Phibes films? Everyone knows that here at TT we will take the Fun of yesterday over the Angst of today and be all the happier for it.

    • Well put, Jason. I can’t wait for your book to come out so I can dig a little further into the subject.
      I see what you mean about me saying “art.” I guess that Paul Fussell was right about a few things.
      I’ll stop bothering you and get back to some homework.
      Thanks,
      J.R.

      • No bother, my friend! I love a good discussion about this subject that I hold so dear and it is a true pleasure to ‘rap’ with someone who obviously thinks about these trivialities as much as I do. Horror nerds unite!

  5. This is one I’d never seen before. I really liked the first Hammer Frankenstein and Dracula, but the other Frankensteins didn’t do much for me. This one is a little better, but still lacks a certain something. Maybe it’s the interplay between Lee and Cushing. Great work on it from you guys, tho.

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