(1958) director Terence Fisher
A couple years back, I opened the door to revisiting the Hammor horror films that I had watched so much of as a child. I started with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), the first of the Terence Fisher directed, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing-starring Frankenstein films. I’m not exactly sure why I haven’t gotten back to the Hammer horror films before this, but this Halloween season seemed like an apt opportunity to do just that.
Horror of Dracula is the first of the several Hammer horror Dracula films involving Fisher, Cushing, and Lee. It’s little wonder that I would have had a hard time telling how many of these movies were made and that’s because there were an awful lot of them. Apparently, re-booting the Victorian literary monsters from the Universal Studios stable of 1930’s-1950’s was commercially successful!
Lee is a great Dracula, fierce and menacing, and though tall and handsome, the moment he parts his lips to reveal his fangs, well, it’s pure sneer. Cushing is great as well as the heroic Van Helsing. The story follows quite loosely the Bram Stoker novel and the stage play that led to Tod Browning’s 1931 film Dracula which made Bela Lugosi a star. No matter. Vampire lore gets its own revisioning too.
Really, the best part of the film is the finale, in which Dracula is killed by sunlight, melting and then burning to ashes is very dramatic fashion. The bright colors illumante the redness of the blood. There is another nice shot when Dracula’s wife is staked through the heart that she turns into an old lady corpse (from a comely young lass vampire).
Ah, heck, it’s all good stuff. Bring ’em on!