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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) is hired by a Count Dracula
(Christopher Lee) to catalog is vast and ancient library. Upon Harker's
arrival in the Gothic and whispered about castle it becomes apparent
that nothing is what it seems as is attacked by a pale, yet strangely
alluring fanged female than promptly shut up in his room. We soon find
out that Jonathan has come here with one purpose and one purpose only,
to destroy the vampiric monster Dracula. When the plan goes dreadfully
wrong the famous Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) marches in to save the
world from this ancient evil.
Hammer Studios creates a wonderful production, one full of beautiful sets and costuming. Also on tap are plenty of Gothic atmosphere and a cast of great thespians including the great combination of Cushing and Lee. The script diverts itself from the source material in many ways, mostly in the shuffling around of the characters and their relationships to one another partially due to a legal squabble with Universal Studios.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I would just like to start by saying that I really enjoyed this movie. My assessment of it being ultimately flawed is more to do with the story than it is to do with the performances. The story in essence follows that of the book, but with some changes that I feel were generally unnecessary, for example Harker as Dracula's librarian, and being dead within the first twenty minutes, the complete writing out of Renfield, and the change of Lucy's surname from Westenra to Holmwood. However for all the faults with the story, this remains an engaging film and a classic example of Hammer Horror. Also when compared with its predecessor, The Curse Of Frankenstein, it shows how far Terrence Fisher had progressed as a Horror director in such a short time.
As a horror film The Horror Of Dracula works wonderfully, creating tension with a typically 50s horror score and brilliant performances from Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula. The cinematography is also a vast improvement on that on show in The Curse Of Frankenstein, and the set design and costumes are quite simply brilliant.
HORROR OF DRACULA is simply told but effective. It stars a fantastic trio of lead actors in the form of Peter Cushing(as Dr. Van Helsing), Christopher Lee(as the Count) and Micheal Gough(as Arthur Holmwood--a man tortured by the evil of Dracula) who are always a delight to watch. Also appearing are a number of buxom leading ladies as was common with most Hammer--here we have Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Janina Faye and Valerie Gaunt. The element I enjoy best about the film however is Jack Asher's Cinematography as this film looks like a living painting brought to life and is full of gothic color.
Terence Fisher's Horror of Dracula is probably the best adaptation of
Dracula ever put on film. Stylish, gothic and very literate, it's Hammer
film production at its finest.
The actors in this film are all excellent with two actors in particular standing out: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Christopher Lee was the perfect choice for the role of Dracula. His Dracula is an imposing presence, tall, stately and cool, with the deep, silky-smooth voice and gentlemanly manner that belies a lurking, evil presence. He is able to imbue his character with both erotic charm and cold, calculated evil at the same time. Just watch any of his scenes in this film and you'll know what I mean.
Peter Cushing as Van Helsing starts out a bit stodgy and pedantic, but by the end he will have transformed himself into a solid man of action. It is a role tailor-made for Peter Cushing, and he does an excellent job. Had another actor played him, this film would not have been as effective, especially playing opposite Christopher Lee's Dracula.
If you haven't seen this classic horror film, I would urge you to do so. Another great Terence Fisher film I would recommend is Dracula, Prince of Darkness, also starring Christopher Lee.
I saw this Terence Fisher Hammer classic again recently and was struck by how well that it holds up. While not quite a true adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, in a lot of ways this is the definitive film version of "Dracula." And, along with "Five Million Years to Earth, it may be the best Hammer film ever. It is a literate, perfectly acted, beautifully mounted, thrilling film. As horror films go, this is one of the best.
I first remember watching this film when I was about 9 or 10, and since then have tried to watch as many Hammer Horror films as I can.
Many people have mentioned the inaccuracies in this film in comparison to the Bram Stoker book, however if I remember correctly because Universal had the rights to the book these changes had to be made. If you want a more faithful retelling of the book I would recommend Scars of Dracula which contains scenes where Dracula climbs walls and turns into a bat.
In my view the main reason this film succeeds is due to the acting ability of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. The latter (Lee) oozes a sort of dark, menacing sexuality about.
I think that if this Dracula movie is superior than Browning and Coppola
versions, this is because it shows a more animal Count; Fisher's Dracula
speak, he screams; doesn't fly or become another animal, he jumps and
doesn't... It's more a monster than a ghost, and that goes more accord
the original conception with the characther, not as a gentleman, as a
creature. And about the differences with original Stoker's book, I think
there are more money limitations than real intention of
Sorry about my bad english, is that I am from Argentina...
If I had to choose a favorite among all the adaptations of "Dracula," this would be the one. Though it doesn't follow Stoker's novel completely, I still think it's a classic in its own right. I prefer this version over "Bram Stoker's Dracula," hands down. There is something about the eerie quality of it, from Dracula's castle to his creepy ways of terrorizing the Holmwoods, that makes it awesome. What else can you say about Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing? Both were perfectly cast. I did miss Jonathan Harker after his early exit, though. Also, I think the final scene is one of the greatest in the annals of horror film. Not perfect, but not very far from it. "Horror of Dracula" should be seen by every horror movie enthusiast.
Jimmy Sangster's script for Horror of Dracula (the first of Hammer's
popular vampire series) plays it fast and loose with Stoker's classic
novel in almost every department, changing the nature of Jonathan
Harker's visit to Castle Dracula, omitting the bloodsucker's overseas
excursion to Whitby entirely, and even doing away with my favourite
character from the book, bug-eating loon Renfield.
Despite this radical reworking of the source material, the film is still a highly enjoyable slice of Gothic horror, one that I found a far more satisfying movie overall than Tod Browning's 1931 version, which I felt suffered from stagy direction and a somewhat hammy central performance from Lugosi.
With director Terence Fisher's understanding of the medium of film and his cast's greater experience in front of a camera, Horror of Dracula flows much more smoothly and delivers sumptuous sets, rich colour photography, and bags of creepy atmosphere into the bargain. The film is also notable for pushing the boundaries for what was acceptable in terms of sexuality and bloodletting in UK horror, establishing the winning formula for much of Hammer's output in decades to come.
7.5 out of 10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
Horror of Dracula is absolutely perfect, its atmosphere, photography, colours, landscape and acting are incredible...! You have a crescendo of tension and fear, a perfect balance between the "quiet" speaking scenes and the thrilling scenes; the first part of the movie is about Jonathan Harker and his failed attempt to destroy Dracula (but it's not the same as in the original book) . the second part is more interesting, with a wonderful Peter Cushing / Van Helsing investigating the vampires ' world. The tavern with the superstitious village people, those moments of ...brrrr... I'd prefer to remain in bed ... and the forests, the moment Dracula comes to town and begins his curse ... Why don't they do this kind of movies anymore ? The only Gothic movie that can compare to this one is Bram Stoker's Dracula , talking modern times...I think everyone has lost that magic touch for real horror movies ...
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