Hammer’s Dracula series was always hit and miss, but you could always count on them for a sinister performance by Christopher Lee. He’s pretty great in this, his fifth essaying of the role, but he is done a great disservice by the wildly uneven script.
Case in point: In the opening scene of the film, a bat pukes on Dracula’s cape, which instantly brings him back to life.
Two minutes in and I’m already having problems with this movie’s logic. Definitely not a good sign.
Anyway, Dracula isn’t alive for more than ten seconds when a group of angry villagers are knocking down his door trying to burn his castle down. Drac ingeniously sends out his trained army of killer rubber bats to chow down on all the womenfolk while the men are out storming the castle, so it’s all good though.
Meanwhile, a hapless dude gets comically accused of rape and has to seek refuge in Dracula’s crib. Dracula offers him a place to crash, but you can probably guess what the Count has in mind for the poor bastard. When his brother and his fiancée show up looking for him, Drac sets out to put the bite on them too. In the ridiculously stupid ending, Dracula gets struck by lightning (LIGHTNING!) and gets turned into a walking Molotov cocktail.
The movie earns points for at least trying to be true in some respects to Bram Stoker’s original novel (no, he didn’t write the part with the puking bat) but too much of this mess is just plain silly and those rubbery looking bats are hard to take seriously. In addition to the unintentional laughs, the filmmakers sprinkled in liberal doses of bedroom humor as well, which only adds to the film’s identity crisis. Things also get extremely bogged down after the romantic lead gets Janet Leighed halfway into the film.
On the plus side, the flick features a few shocking, albeit brief gore scenes (one woman has her eyeball mauled out by one of the voracious rubber bats) and some tantalizing glimpses of nudity. The film also contains some genuinely ghoulish moments too, like when Dracula snaps and stabs his bride to death with a dagger for cheating on him, but it’s just a shame that director Roy Ward (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde) Baker couldn’t have paced this thing a little better.
Scars of Dracula may be one of the weakest of the Hammer Dracula films but if you have a rubber bat fetish, this’ll definitely knock your socks off.