Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Anthony Nelson Keys
Written by Story:
Anthony Hinds
Jimmy Sangster
Starring Christopher Lee
Barbara Shelley
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography Michael Reed
Editing by Chris Barnes
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Hammer Studios
Release date(s) January 9, 1966
Running time 90 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Dracula: Prince of Darkness is a 1966 British horror film directed by Terence Fisher for Hammer Studios. The film was photographed in Techniscope by Michael Reed, designed by Bernard Robinson and scored by James Bernard.


The film opens with the final scenes from Dracula, showing Dracula’s destruction and the end of his "reign of terror".

Nearly ten years later, Father Sandor (a local abbot) interrupts a funeral ceremony — in which a young woman's corpse is about to be staked through the heart and then cremated despite her mother's anguished pleas — and chastises the presiding priest for perpetuating the fear of vampirism. He demonstrates that the woman does not carry the curse, and admonishes the mourners to conduct a proper Christian burial.

Sandor then visits an inn where four English tourists (the Kents) are staying. He warns the Kents not to go to Karlsbad, but if they do they should stay well clear of the castle. The Kents take pride in their lack of superstition, and are unmoved by Sandor's warning. They set out for Karlsbad the following day.

Due to a broken carriage wheel, the group are four hours behind schedule. As night draws near, their fear-stricken coach driver refuses to continue any further and dumps them unceremoniously just about two kilometres from Karlsbad and within sight of the castle. As they are considering staying in an old woodsman’s hut overnight, a driverless carriage and two horses arrives. Charles Kent tries to drive the coach to Karlsbad, but the horses take them to the castle. They exit the carriage and as they look inside the castle, the coach races off. Helen, who resisted boarding the carriage, reiterates her concerns.

The castle appears to be abandoned but well-maintained. A dining table inside is set for four people. They find their bags, which had been left in the carriage, have been unpacked in the upstairs bedrooms. A strange servant named Klove appears. He explains that his master, the late Count Dracula, ordered that the castle should always be ready to welcome strangers. Klove serves them dinner. The Kents later settle in their rooms, but Helen continues to entreat her husband Alan to leave the castle, saying there will be no morning for them.

Late at night, a noise is heard and Alan investigates. He finds Klove dragging a heavy chest, and follows him to the crypt. There, he finds Dracula’s sarcophagus but no sign of Klove. Klove stabs him from behind and mixes Alan's blood with Dracula's ashes to revive his master. Klove convinces Helen to come to the crypt with a vague warning that something has befallen Alan. In the cellar she finds the resurrected Dracula who makes her his first victim.

The next morning Charles and Diana can find no trace of Alan, Helen, or Klove. Charles takes Diana to the woodsman’s hut and then returns to the castle to search for them.

Klove tricks Diana into also returning to the castle, claiming that he has been sent by Charles. Charles, meanwhile, finds Alan’s dismembered body in a trunk in the crypt. It is dark already (being winter) and Dracula rises. Diana sees Helen, not realising now that she is one of the undead. Helen attacks Diana but stops at a hiss from Dracula. Charles attacks Dracula, but is quickly outmatched. Diana accidentally burns Helen with her crucifix and realises it can be used as a weapon against vampires. Charles catches on and uses two parts of a broken sword as a cross to drive Dracula back.

Klove tries to sneak up on them but is struck down as the two leave the castle in a carriage. Traveling too fast, the carriage crashes and Diana is knocked unconscious. Charles carries her for several hours through the wilderness. Father Sandor discovers them and transports them to his abbey where she can recover. Diana does not regain consciousness for two days, so Charles is forced to stay at the monastery while she recovers. While waiting for Diana to awaken, Sandor tells Charles about Dracula.

Klove, disguised as a tinker, arrives at the monastery in a wagon carrying two coffins (containing Dracula and Helen). Klove claims to seek accommodations for the night, but is denied admission by the monks.

Ludwig is another patient at the abbey, whose mind was unhinged from a previous encounter with Dracula. Still in thrall to Dracula, Dracula easily convinces Ludwig to invite him inside. Helen convinces Diana to open the window for her. Diana is bitten, but Dracula drags Helen off as he wants Diana for himself. Charles bursts into the room and drives the vampires out. Sandor sterilises the bite with the heat from an oil lamp.

Sandor puts silver crucifixes in the two coffins in the tinker’s wagon to prevent the vampires returning there at dawn - unable to hide from the sun in their coffins, they will be destroyed. Helen is captured and staked, but Ludwig lures Diana into Dracula’s presence, where she is hypnotised into taking off her crucifix. Dracula coerces her to drink his blood from his bare chest, but Charles returns just before she can drink, forcing Dracula to flee with the unconscious Diana.

Charles and Sandor arm themselves and follow on horseback, over a day’s ride. A shortcut allows them to get in front of the tinker's wagon and stop it. Charles shoots Klove but the horses gallop off to the castle. The wagon stops abruptly at the bridge and one coffin slides out onto the frozen moat. Diana is released from the other coffin and Charles advances across the thin ice toward Dracula's coffin. He is grabbed by Dracula as the coffin’s lid is thrown open.

Diana shoots at Dracula but hits the ice instead, and running water spurts out - which a vampire cannot cross. Cornered, Dracula overpowers Charles, but Charles escapes his clutches as more shots from Sandor break up the ice around the Count. Unable to climb the nearby moat wall, Dracula sinks into the freezing water and perishes.


Production notesEdit

Dracula does not speak in the film. According to Christopher Lee: "I didn’t speak in that picture. The reason was very simple. I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much mistaken."[1]

But screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, in his memoir Inside Hammer (Reynolds & Hearn, 2001), stated that "Vampires don't chat. So I didn't write him any dialogue. Chris Lee has claimed that he refused to speak the lines he was given ... So you can take your pick as to why Christopher Lee didn't have any dialogue in the picture. Or you can take my word for it. I didn't write any."

A novelization of the film was written by John Burke as part of his 1967 book The Second Hammer Horror Film Omnibus.

The film was made back-to-back with Rasputin, the Mad Monk, using many of the same sets and cast. Barbara Shelley later remembered accidentally swallowing one of her fangs in one scene, and having to drink salt water to bring it back up again because of the tight shooting schedule (as well as there being no spare set of fangs).


Home mediaEdit

It has been announced that Canal Studios will release a blu-ray version of the film on the 27th February 2012.[2]


External linksEdit