let the hammer fall first upon the count…

Do movies get any better? Christopher Lee’s first Dracula role, Peter Cushing doing a masterful Van Helsing in his first appearance as that character, great sets, a very dramatic score, nice supporting actors (especially Michael Gough, star of Horrors of the Black Museum, as Lucy’s brother) and directed by Terence Fisher, the king of the modern Gothic horror…

Yes, it is Horror of Dracula! Maybe not the timeless classic that is the 1931 Dracula, but one of the true classics of Hammer Films, certainly a pivotal rendition of the story (as it was the seed of the Dracula movies that we have known for the last 50 years) and a colorful, exciting film! The set for Dracula’s castle is really quite nice, a good looking building with a nice dramatic mountain in the background, Dracula’s hearse is pretty cool (I would have opted for a coffin that wasn’t white, if I were him), the decor is great, the colors are bright.. Great looking all around.

Jonathan Harker’s ill-fated trip to visit Dracula ends him up in a coffin, but not after staking Dracula’s woman. Dracula, of course, heads out seeking revenge by going after Harker’s fiance and her family. As we expect, he will stop at nothing to possess Lucy and Mina but of course, the good Doctor Van Helsing is all on his game and he pursues Dracula wherever need be. All of this revenge and pursuit is made easier by the strange geography in this movie, as the Castle of Dracula seems to be a carriage ride across the border from the city, much more convenient then the London to Transylvania trip that we are used to.

Cushing is the illustrious and dapper man we expect him to be, playing this role like he was born for it and looking sharp and confident with his wooden stakes and silver crucifix, Lee plays Dracula not so much as a supernatural superman (we don’t see any great transformations into bats or unlikely escapes, in fact, he even does a vigorous run as he flees from his nemesis), just as a powerful and evil man of few words, who doesn’t shy away from a good hand-to-hand tussle or throwing a candelabra at his enemy. And all of this leads to the gruesome yet poetic showdown at the end that is reason enough to watch this!

 

Peter Cushing

tools of the trade

 

 

Peter Cushing

the dapper doctor

 

 

Christopher Lee

oh yes, and dracula

 

Oh, and if there are any HPL fans out there, be sure to stop by the Lovecraft Historical Society (from whom I got the picture within my masthead) and check out the trailer for their new film, The Whisperer in Darkness!


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