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Dracula Prince of Darkness (1965)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The film opens with a flashback to the final scene from Dracula (1958), showing Dracula's demise at the hands of Van Helsing, with a voiceover describing the end of his reign of terror.

Ten years later. A procession of men carry the body of a girl to a forest clearing and, believing her to be a vampire, prepare to drive a stake into her heart. They are stopped by Father Shandor, who demands a correct burial and scolds them for their superstitious beliefs.

Shandor arrives at a local bar and meets four travellers - Charles Kent, his wife, Diana, his brother Alan and Alan's wife, Helen - who are on a climbing trip in Eastern Europe and on their way to a local village, Carlsbad. Shandor warns them to avoid the nearby Castle Dracula, but they set off to Carlsbad regardless.

The travellers hire a coach, but as night falls their driver refuses to travel further. He leaves them at a woodcutter's hut in the forest and promises to collect them at dawn to complete their journey. After he has left, a driverless carriage arrives and Charles pulls the horses to a halt. Charles persuades the group to mount the carriage and they set off for Carlsbad. However, the horses instead take the group to Castle Dracula.

Seeking shelter, they enter the castle and find a table set for four and beds made for them upstairs. A manservant appears to the startled group, and introduces himself as Klove. Over dinner, he explains that his master, Count Dracula, is dead, but left strict instructions that the castle should always be welcome to visitors.

During the night, Alan is awakened by a noise that he discovers is coming from Klove lugging a trunk down into the cellar. Alan follows him, but once in the cellar Klove stabs him in the back, killing him. Klove hangs Alan's bleeding body over a coffin in which he has placed Dracula's ashes. Alan's blood mingles with the remains, and Dracula rises from his tomb.

Klove informs Helen that her husband has been injured, and leads her down to the cellar. She sees Alan hung over the tomb and screams, only to be faced with Dracula, who attacks her.

The next morning, Charles and Diana search the castle for Alan and Helen. Charles ventures into the cellar and discovers Alan's body in a trunk. Charles returns to the hall to find Dracula and Helen, now a vampire, attacking Diana. Charles and Dracula fight, but Dracula breaks in two the sword Charles has taken from the wall. Helen approaches Diana and attempts to bite her, but the crucifix Diana wears burns Helen's arm. Charles forms a cross with the two pieces of broken sword and he and Diana flee the castle.

Charles and Diana arrive at Father Shandor's Monastery, where they are introduced to Ludwig, a former craftsman who turned mad after a visit to Castle Dracula. Meanwhile, Klove arrives at the monastery with Dracula and Helen's coffins in his carriage. He is allowed to spend the night in the monastery grounds. At night, Ludwig allows Dracula to enter the monastery, while Helen implores Diana to let her inside. Diana relents and Helen bites her wrist. Shandor enters the room and burns Diana's wrist on a lamp, cauterising the wound and saving her from becoming a vampire. The monks capture Helen and with the help of Charles drive a stake through her heart. Meanwhile, Ludwig lures Diana to Shandor's study where Dracula puts her under his spell. Shandor and Charles interrupt Dracula, but he kidnaps Diana and escapes, with Shandor and Charles in pursuit.

Charles manages to shoot Klove, and the driverless carriage careers off the road, sending Dracula's coffin onto the ice-covered moat surrounding his castle. Charles fights Dracula on the ice, and Diana, rescued by Shandor from the carriage, takes the shotgun and shoots a hole in the moat. The running water, deadly to vampires, stops Dracula in his tracks, and Shandor, realising this, continues to fire his gun at the ice until Dracula is submerged in the water. Charles, Diana and Shandor look on as Dracula perishes.