Perhaps the least effective Hammer horror film featuring Christopher Lee as the fly-by-night Count, Dracula: Prince of Darkness features an awkward silent performance from its star as the titular monster, whose ferocious snarl and lack of dialogue makes the character more feral monster than debonair, courtly spawn of Satan. Yet despite a less-than-stellar turn by Lee, Terence Fisher’s 1966 film – which is technically the third Hammer Dracula film after Horror of Dracula and Brides of Dracula, although the latter doesn’t feature Lee and, thus, doesn’t truly count – has a gothic mustiness that perfectly suits its tale of aristrocrats gone lost. A group of English fuddy-duddies ignore a priest’s warning and head off into the Carpathian mountains, where their driver abandons them for fear of getting too close to Count Dracula’s castle. There, the prim and proper travelers are picked up by a mysterious carriage that takes them to the ominous castle, which is being kept in order by the Count’s eerie servant Clove. Fisher tantalizingly hints at the coming horror when one of the two female travelers sits on her bed and remarks on its lumpiness (is the mattress made of bodies?), and Clove doesn’t waste much time bleeding one of the two men dry in order to resurrect Lee’s towering villain. Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film seems to be punishing these arrogant, idiotic nobles for recklessly avoiding the townspeople’s warnings about the dangerousness of their sightseeing trip and, thus, treating the nasty, brutal world as their playground. This being a Hammer production, the Count is naturally a sexually virulent beast, and, as in many of the series’ subsequent films, Dracula has a classic moment in which he tosses aside the needy, slutty vampiress (who he’s already defiled with a bite) in favor of attempting to slurp from the neck of a pure, noble – and thus symbolically “virginal” – blonde beauty. The climactic Dracula death is completely nonsensical – if running water is the bane of Dracula’s existence, why does he have a castle surrounded by it? – but the castle itself has a lascivious opulence that matches these films’ baroque blending of the regal and the bodice-ripping.