1960s | Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)
Film 4 of 8, representing the 1960s, Hammer Horror, and Vampires
Expectations: Hammer Horror comes with a certain amount of pre conceived expectations (as it did then), those being bold colours, lavish costumes, nudity, and gore. The latter two are what’s really interesting here, because although the subject matter is a flashback to 1930s Universal Horror, the content of horror in this century is very different indeed. So I’m on the look out for those two staples of the modern horror genre, nudity and gory violence.
Reflection: ‘Dracula Prince of Darkness‘ was decent, if rather standard horror shlock from Hammer. The sight of dripping blood, rather a lot of it in places (including a strung up body drained from the throat), was a sight-for-sore-eyes for this horror fan, following the almost blood free decades that preceded the 60s. Boobs however were in short supply! It’s interesting to see the increase in body gore from 1956 to 1966. Here horror has arrived at full body impalement and the beginning of the genre’s on-screen blood lust. Hammer serves as a great example of the moment in horror history when special effects makeup artists became a vital member of the crew, not only in the Jack Pierce sense of physical makeup, but now body prosthetics and gore. These early gore pioneers would pave the way for the likes of Savini who would go on, in the 70s and 80s, to become industry names, with reputations based on blood and gore. Although all of this unashamed glorification of bright red blood wasn’t without media and public distain, movie fans, and important horror fans, were flocking to these films, ushering in a time where such body horror became acceptable and expected. Colour, of course was a key factor in this, never before had blood looked so vivid on screen, and here the film makers were making full use of it’s vibrant appearance. Although ‘Dracula Prince of Darkness’ isn’t the best example of 60s horror or Hammer horror, it was fascinating to see just how much horror had changed in a decade from the rather tamer black and white b-movies of the 50s.