Near disaster today! Whilst struggling to pull a fish from my favourite ice-hole, I stumble and accidentally discharge my hunting rifle. The shot cracks the ice and I plunge into the murky abyss!
My life flashes before my eyes... the murders, the sadism, the treachery... ah, good times...
Then I see a bright light and feel myself being pulled towards it... pulled... towards the light, or out of the hole? Because the next thing I remember I am on the ice, struggling for breath... are there voices?
I recall a shadowy figure kneeling beside me and whispering: "If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth."
Then I feel a blow to my head. I wake up hours later in the Igloo, wrapped warmly in a blanket I've never seen before...
My God, what a day! I could - and possible should - have died under that ice! I can't bear to think of it. I need a stiff brandy, and to watch something that will take my mind off the whole unfortunate episode...
DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)
Alan Kent is one of four unsuspecting tourists who find themselves in a seemingly deserted Castle Dracula. His wife Helen has a strong sense of foreboding but her protestations are given short thrift: “You’ll forget about all this in the morning, you’ll see,” Alan assures her. She simply replies: “There’ll be no morning for us.”
This line chilled my spine when I first saw this movie as an 8-year old. Barbara Shelley’s fatalistic delivery of it is impeccable – she states it not as a prediction, but as a certainty. And she is now resigned to her fate, having tried and failed to warn anyone else of the danger. It’s one of the finest lines in horror movie history in my opinion. Only "Death by stereo" comes anywhere close.
The Hammer Draculas were the young Igloo Keeper’s first horror love, and they remain firm favourites . Having said that, I can’t help but think that it's a flawed series, and although I’d rather watch 'Dracula: Prince of Darkness' more than almost any other film, it could have been so much better:
For example, where’s Peter Cushing? No sign of him here. Any Dracula film without Cushing v Lee, Van Helsing v Dracula is missing something very special indeed. Mind you, even when the two do appear together, it always seems that their screen-time together is too brief. I want to see them verbally spar with one another. I want to see them sit down for a meal together, being outwardly polite, but promising to end one another's time on this Earth if it's the last thing they do, by thunder!. That sort of thing. But for some reason it never happened, perhaps because of my next point...
Another huge flaw throughout the series is Dracula’s dialogue. Or lack of it. For some reason, he’s struck dumb in 'Dracula: Prince of Darkness'. In the other films he fares not much better, usually being restricted to a couple of lines near the end of the film which generally follows this sequence:
a) Dracula quickly boasts about how omnipotent, wonderful and unstoppable he is.
b) He then throws something at Van Helsing that misses by a mile.
c) And dies either stupidly (by falling into a shallow pit of stakes: ‘Dracula 1972 A.D’), or unluckily (being hit by lightning: ‘Scars of Dracula).
I’ve heard that Lee himself felt exactly the same way about his piss-poor dialogue and tried unsuccessfully to get the film-makers to use some suitably portentous lines from the original Stoker novel. But 'twas not to be.
Back in Dracula’s castle the count is resurrected by the blood of a hapless Alan Kent, in another wonderful scene where the evil henchman Clove hoists him above a coffin and slits his wrists. The casual, workmanlike way that he does this still packs a punch (it chills my spine in fact, but I already used that phrase in the first paragraph). Blood flows and Dracula is back!
Barbara Shelley is his first victim. Now, I’m fully aware that vampirism has laid scourge to many a Carpathian countryside, and becoming a vampire is not generally a good thing but wow – Barbara Shelley looks good on it! She transform from a frumpy old misery into a hot, Hot, HOT Uber-sexy MILF vampire. She could tap at my window any time. If my igloo had windows…
Thankfully the remainder of the group, Charles and Diana Kent, manage to escape and enlist the help of a no-nonsense rifle-toting priest, Father Quatermass.
This time, Dracula finds himself treading on thin ice – literally. His death is probably a 50/50 split between bad luck and stupidity, as the priests shoots holes in some ice that Dracula has somehow found himself on. A few skillful shots later, Dracula topples into a watery grave.
Ha! Let’s see him get out of that one! What monster has ever managed to escape from being preserved in ice before? (see ‘Dracula has Risen from the Grave for further details…)
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