The UK version was compared to the US version. Both are included on the US Blu-ray by Scream Factory.
The two brothers Charles and Alan and their wives Diana and Helen travel through the Cape Maps in Transylvania. During a rest in an inn, they meet Abbot Shandor, who warns them not to visit the castle near Karlsbad. They ignore the warning and want to travel to Karlovy Vary the next day, but the coachman is afraid shortly before nightfall and leaves the four near the castle. A horse-drawn carriage without a coachman appears and brings the travellers directly to the castle, where the servant Klove has already prepared everything for a pleasant stay in the name of his deceased lord Count Dracula. Despite Helen's reservations, they spend the night at the castle. At night, Alan is lured into the crypt by Klove where he is killed so that he Dracula can be brought back to life. Dracula's first victim is Helen, who he turns into a lustful vampire bride. Charles and Diana barely manage to escape from the castle. Together with Shandor, they face the vampires.
The third film in Hammer's Dracula series is Christopher Lee's second appearance as the undead vampire who gained new life through fresh blood provided by his servant. Compared to the two predecessors, it's striking that Peter Cushing isn't part of Van Helsing this time, but is gracefully represented by Andrew Keir as Shandor. Lee’s performance as a silent vampire who only makes hissing sounds seems even more threatening than in the first film. Admittedly, the movie takes a lot of time to build up the scenario, so that it takes about 40 minutes until Dracula appears for the first time, but then horrible effects appear that are convincing all the way, so that the film’s weaker moments are quickly forgotten.
There are two versions of the film on the US Blu-ray by Scream Factory: The UK version and the US version. A look at the release history is necessary to become aware of the importance of the US version. When Elite Entertainment wanted to release the film on laser disc in the 90's, the interpositive of 20th Century Fox was in such a bad condition that a restoration to bring it to the state of the art at that time was not possible. Instead, the original negative was used, which had other problems. The picture should have been restored a bit more expertly and therefore it looks a bit pale now. Years later, the same master that was used for the laser disc was used for the Anchor Bay DVD.
For the first Blu-ray release, StudioCanal created an HD master based on the negative. As with the DVD, the picture looks a bit pale and there was another important criticism: the picture was filtered too intensely.
Dracula: Prince of Darkness is now the first part of a Hammer series released by Scream Factory on Blu-ray in the US. In addition to the well-known restoration by StudioCanal (UK version), the Fox Interpositive (US version) has now been transferred to Blu-ray for the first time. Here is a picture comparison between the two versions. The colors of the US version look much more natural (look at the sky on picture 10) and it is noticeable how yellowish and smooth the picture of the UK version is. Scenes in which blood is visible are more convincing due to the rich red coloring of the US version. Unfortunately, the transfer of the US version also has some minor problems, as in some places the picture looks a bit restless and even small soiling can be seen. I personally find both points less disturbing than the filtered, sometimes artificial picture of the UK version.
But are there any other differences between the two versions? After a comparison, it can be said that the differences are very small. At some scene transitions, it is noticeable that the US version fades over to the next scene a little earlier. At different points, one or the other version is a bit longer. The most striking difference is in the last shot of the movie. In the US version, Dracula's face can be seen earlier under the ice. I think that this comparison makes it quite clear that over the years, with every restoration, smaller film snippets can get lost, which is a pity.
As a conclusion it can be said that the US transfer that Scream Factory has packed onto the Blu-ray finally does the film more justice. The differences between the two edited versions are rather small. The new US Blu-ray is therefore recommended to Hammer fans.
US version: 90:15 min.
UK version: 90:03 min.
The US begins with the 20th Century Fox logo.
US: 12.50 sec.
The US has a black image after the credits.
US: 1.78 sec.
The UK later fades to the inn, which can then be seen longer.
UK: 4.08 sec.
US: 3.16 sec.
The castle can be seen a little longer.
UK: 1.97 sec.
The US fades earlier to the tapestry.
UK: 1.01 sec.
The lock can be seen longer after the camera has moved through the corridor.
UK: 2.08 sec.
The UK cuts earlier from the corridor into the bedroom. The corridor can be seen longer in the US.
US: 3.86 sec.
The scene in Ludwig's cell when vampire bride Helen is captured begins a little earlier in the US.
US: 1.00 sec.
In the last shot, Dracula can be seen earlier under the ice cover.
US: 2.18 sec.