Count Dracula kills a passenger on a train in Transylvania and assumes his identity. He travels to a small community in California where the Mayberrys are expecting their cousin from Europe. His strange behavior, sleeping all day and going out at night are surprising to young miss Rachel Mayberry. A policeman from Europe comes to investigate while Rachel's best friend Jenny dies unexpectedly. And the count plans on giving Rachel the gift of eternal life... Written by
The Hammer classic "Horror of Dracula" was issued shortly after this low budget black and white feature, quickly forgotten in the wake of Christopher Lee's successful portrayal in vivid color. See more »
When Rachel goes to the window in her bedroom, the crucifix is shown outside of her nightgown, but when she leans out the window the crucifix isn't shown, then it is when she goes back in the bedroom. See more »
It is a known fact that there existed in Central Europe a Count Dracula. Though human in appearance and cultured in manner, he was in truth a thing undead... a force of evil... a vampire. Feeding on the blood of innocent people, he turned them into his own kind, thus spreading his evil dominion ever wider. The attempts to find and destroy this evil were never proven fully successful, and so the search continues to this very day.
See more »
I had always been interested in this one due to a couple of stills from its climax (thus spoiling Dracula's come-uppance for me all those many years ago! in retrospect, his eventual demise is beautifully set up early on in the cave sequence with the stranded kitten) and the carping about its unavailability on DVD by fans particularly from one HTF member (you know who you are).
This is clearly a low-budget horror effort, but rather splendid overall: well-handled, commendably fast-paced, and with effective genre trappings (special effects depicting mist, Dracula's lack of reflection in a mirror, and his reverting to a skeleton at the end) and a nice, typically American small-town atmosphere. Francis Lederer is commanding as the Count, at once sinister and magnetic even if his demeanor throughout seems merely to alternate between arrogance and contempt (unexpectedly, he changes into a wolf dog for one attack)!; I had previously been impressed by the actor when he played the ambitious and malevolent manservant in Jean Renoir's THE DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID (1946).
Being a film from the late 1950s, it comes as no surprise to find that the heroes are a teenage couple: still, Dracula's interest in the girl is understandable and creates some compelling tension she is just as stuck on him in her own way, since he's posing as a visiting uncle from a far-away country with a sophisticated/artistic bent! in a relationship that's comparable to the one between Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright in Alfred Hitchcock's favorite among his own films, SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943). However, this also means that the young couple are the ones to dispatch Lederer rather than the vampire hunter who followed him all the way from his homeland! The latter gets saddled with the next best thing, though the staking of the Count's blind(!) vampire bride, which employs a striking color insert as the blood starts spurting from her wound (incidentally, the woman's hysterical first death scene also constitutes one of the film's highlights). By the way, the religious overtones in the script are rather unusual for the time with Dracula offering the heroine the opportunity to "be reborn in me"!
The film has other interesting credentials to its name: independent producers Arthur Gardner and Jules V. Levy, composer Gerald Fried (PATHS OF GLORY  even if the soundtrack makes particularly inspired use throughout of the brooding medieval hymn "Dies Irae"), cinematographer Jack MacKenzie (ISLE OF THE DEAD ) and assistant director Bernard McEveety (THE BROTHERHOOD OF Satan ). Incidentally, the silly British title given to the film THE FANTASTIC DISAPPEARING MAN makes the whole sound like a Harry Houdini biopic(!)...though the change is certainly understandable, in view of its potentially being mistaken for a follow-up to the current Hammer remake of Dracula (1958).
Disappointingly, no extras at all are included on the MGM/Fox DVD; still, THE RETURN OF Dracula has been ideally paired with the same film-makers' previous (and even more radical) bloodsucking effort called, simply, THE VAMPIRE (1957).
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?