It stars Christopher Lee as Dracula, along with Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley, Patrick Troughton, and Michael Gwynn. It was disparaged by some critics. The film restores elements of Bram Stoker's original novel: the Count is introduced as an "icily charming host," he has command over nature, and he is seen scaling the walls of his castle. It also gives Lee more to do and say than any other Hammer Dracula film besides the first, Dracula (1958).
This film opens with a resurrection scene set shortly after the climax of Taste the Blood of Dracula, but is set in Dracula's Transylvanian homeland rather than England, as that film was. The British Film group EMI took over distribution of the film after Warner Bros. and other American studios refused to distribute it in the U.S. It was also the first of several Hammer films to get an 'R' rating.
In the opening scene, after the previous events, Dracula's remains, his cape, a scattered pile of red dust and dried blood are seen in the church altar following his destruction by Paul and Alice in the previous film Taste the Blood of Dracula. Suddenly, a large bat flies in and hovers over the altar. Blood drips from its fangs and onto the vampire's remains. Almost immediately, the remains start to interact and bond with the dripped blood. Within seconds, Count Dracula is once more resurrected...
The scene switches to Dracula's homeland (after a period of approximately a year), where the local villagers are enraged that yet another young woman has been murdered by the Count. With a priest's blessing, they rise up and set fire to Castle Dracula. However, the Count is safely asleep in a solid stone crypt. When the villagers return home, they find that every single woman and child in the village has been slaughtered in the church by bats.
Falsely accused of rape by the spurned burgomasters' daughter, libertine Paul Carlson flees the Kleinenberg authorities by jumping into a nearby coach which, though driverless, heads off at great speed. He is deposited near Count Dracula's mountaintop castle. Initially he is welcomed by the Count and a beautiful woman named Tania who later reveals herself to be a prisoner of Dracula as his mistress. Paul later has a liaison with Tania who concludes their lovemaking by trying to bite his neck. Dracula enters and, casually throwing off Paul's efforts to stop him, savagely stabs Tania to death with a dagger for betraying him. The vampires servant Klove dismembers her body and dissolves the pieces in a bath of either holy water or acid. Trapped in a room high in the castle, Paul uses a line to climb down to a lower window but the line is withdrawn by Klove and he is trapped in a dark room with only door locked and a coffin at the center of the room.
Paul's more sober brother, Simon Carlson and Paul's fiancee Sarah Framsen, come searching for him. A maid at the tavern directs them to the castle and they investigate. Dracula has immediate designs on the lovely Sarah, but Klove, who has fallen in love with the young woman after seeing her photograph amongst Paul's possessions, helps the young couple escape by refusing to do Dracula's bidding to remove Sarah's crucifix. The servant pays a terrible price for his disobedience, when he is sadistically burnt by Dracula with a red-hot cutlass.
Simon, having enlisted the help of the village priest, goes back to the castle to look for his brother. However, the priest is attacked by a large bat and killed and Simon is betrayed by Klove, ending up in the same locked room as his brother. Opening the coffin in the middle of the room, Simon discovers the sleeping Dracula, but the vampire's power reaches through his closed eyelids causing the young man to collapse before he can take action against the Count.
When Simon recovers, the vampire has vanished. Investigating further into a second part of the room, Paul horrifically finds his brother's drained corpse on a spike. Looking out of the window, he is amazed to see the Count running up the far wall like and insect. With the rope he used to scale down was cut by Klove, Paul climbs up the sheer outer wall to go after Sarah, knowing that Dracula may use her as his new mistress.
Sarah meanwhile, has made her way back to the castle battlements as a storm approaches. Suddenly, she is confronted by Dracula, who this time uses his bat to remove Sarah's crucifix. Just then, Klove arrives on the battlements attacks the Count with the dagger the vampire used to murder Tania. But the servant is hopelessly outmatched by the vampire's inhuman strength and is thrown over the side of the castle by Dracula.
Simon arrives and throws a heavy iron spike at the Count with the intention of staking him in the heart. the spike pierces the Count, but on the wrong side of the chest. Unharmed, Dracula raises the spike ready to impale Simon. But the spike is struck by lightning and Dracula, is immediately engulfed in flames. Staggering in agony, the Count collapses and topples over the castle's battlements before falling to the far ground below where his corpse continues to burn fiercely...
The character of Klove had previously appeared in Dracula: Prince of Darkness as played by Philip Latham and sevant in which he served Dracula as a butler. In the film, Klove was shot in the chest by priest Father Sandor though it was unknown if Klove had survived. In Scars of Dracula, Klove has indeed survived and seen as a slave by Dracula who eventually turns against his master.
- Christopher Lee
- Dennis Waterman
- Jenny Hanley
- Christopher Matthews
- Michael Gwynn
- Michael Ripper
- Patrick Troughton
- Anouska Hempel
- Wendy Hamilton
- Bob Todd
The film was released theatrically by EMI Films and American Continental Films Inc. in Great Britain and the United States respectively.
The film was released in some markets on a double feature with The Horror of Frankenstein.
The film was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2004. This version is currently out of print. It has since been released as part of "The Ultimate Hammer Collection" DVD range. The disc also features a running commentary with Christopher Lee and director Roy Ward Baker hosted by Marcus Hearn (co-author of "The Hammer Story") . Also revealing are Baker's anecdotes of his arguments with BBFC executive of that time - John Trevelyan. The running time has long been erroneously stated as being up to 96 minutes, usually 95 in most books including the book "The Hammer Story". It is in fact short of 92 minutes listed on the Thorn EMI PAL VHS release of the 1980s. Anchor Bay's release has it correctly at 91 minutes.