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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dracula (1958) - Terence Fisher


Christopher Lee, much like Bela Lugosi, was born to play these roles. His name will no doubt go down in horror movie history right next to Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lionel Atwill. Thanks mostly in part to the roles that he got during the heyday of Hammer films from Britain. This unique take on Dracula was really interesting. Hammer took the usual Dracula storyline thus-far and updated it a bit. Peter Crushing, Christopher Lee, and Michael Gough do a fantastic job of delivering a masterful performance. All of this cements this film as one of the greatest Dracula movies ever made and it makes for quite a contender against Bela Lugosi's original. 

Jonathan Harker visits Castle Dracula under a ruse to check the Counts accounts while actually plotting to bring the dark lord to death. During his visit he creeps around the castle grounds hunting out the sleeping place of the notorious vampire. However, Dracula as always gets the jump, turning Harker into a vampire thus kick-starting an investigation by Harker's good friend Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, but is it too late? Dracula is already harassing and killing Harker's family and friends. Can Van Helsing stop him!

Like I said above, Peter Crushing and Christopher Lee really steal the show. Their acting alone, is something to behold. The beauty behind this movie is how simple it is. They trade the blood and guts for good, solid storytelling. Beautiful sets and fantastic costume work. The art design behind this movie is something else. It's really good. Everything about what makes this movie a movie is fantastic. The downside is that the movie can kind of lull at some points and yeah, it sounds a little pompous at times. However, the good really outweighs the bad. 

If you haven't witnessed a Hammer Horror picture then I implore you to go seek out this movie. It's a very smart horror movie that you will have to watch to appreciate. Don't go into this movie expecting some vampire erotica or sparkly, twinkly, vampires that can't get their love lives in check. This is a horror feature though and though. It pays a great deal of attention to the original source material by Bram Stoker. Interesting take on Dracula and really good. I recommend it! 

I am Dracula and I welcome you to my house.
  • The cape worn by Christopher Lee was discovered in 2007 in a London costume shop during its annual inventory-taking. It had been missing for 30 years, and is believed to be worth around $50,000 (US$). Lee was contacted to verify its authenticity.
  • One of the most graphic scenes is when the stake is driven into Lucy's heart and the blood spurts out. American producers did an identical shot in color and spliced it into the black and white prints of "Return of Dracula" (1958). "Return of Dracula" (1958) was in general release in the U.S. before this film, retitled "Horror of Dracula" (1958) 
  • In the United States the title was changed to "Horror of Dracula" to avoid confusion with the classic 1931 version (Dracula). This was a real concern since the Bela Lugosi version was still being booked into theaters (through Realart) until the Shock Theatre package of classic Universal horror films was released to television.


  

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