Back to Hammer! This is the last of the period Dracula sequels (the final two would be set in contemporary London) and it’s pretty weird and shouldn’t work but it totally works and I love it. No Peter Cushing here, again, and no substitute Van Helsing type, at all. There’s Hammer (and Fawlty Towers) favorite Michal Gwynn as a traumatized priest, but while he tries (and fails) to help, it’s the male lead (early Prince Harry prototype Dennis Waterman) and his tenacity that sort of saves the day – for a change.
There’s actually a play on the handsome mannequin (with a large dash of charming rake) with a character we think might be the leading man. In fact, the film spends the first 1/3 on him, and it’s a surprisingly turn when he… well, you need to watch it. If only to Patrick Troughton in the best wig of his career.
I say Waterman “sort of” saves the day, because Christopher Lee’s (oh yes, he’s here) Dracula enters and exits this film more or less completely by chance. A lucky bat happens by his ashes in the opening and somehow reanimates him? It’s not totally clear. And in the end, Dracula is (spoiler!) the victim of a totally out of nowhere lightening strike. Waterman is trying, really hard, to dispatch the man who is called “evil personified” earlier in the film, but it’s really Mother Nature who does the job if I’m honest. This leads to one of my favorite accidental screengrabs of all time, so I’m not mad in the least. Oh! And there’s cake.