Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire's castle under false pretenses, forcing his colleague Dr. Van Helsing to destroy the predatory villain when he targets Harker's loved ones.
After Jonathan Harker attacks Dracula at his castle (apparently somewhere in Germany), the vampire travels to a nearby city, where he preys on the family of Harker's fiancée. The only one who may be able to protect them is Dr. van Helsing, Harker's friend and fellow-student of vampires, who is determined to destroy Dracula, whatever the cost.Written by
When Jimmy Sangster was writing the screenplay, he admitted that he hadn't considered making the film a tailor-made vehicle for Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. See more »
The supposedly dead Lucy reacts when Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood look into her coffin after she has been staked. See more »
[narrating his diary]
The Diary of Jonathan Harker... Third of May, 1885. At last, my long journey is drawing to its close. What the eventual end will be, I cannot foresee. But whatever may happen, I can rest secure that I will have done all in my power to achieve success.
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It has long been rumored among fans that the Japanese cut of the film contained a number of extended scenes, among them a shot of Dracula tearing his face off during the disintegration climax. Thanks to the efforts of a fan based in Japan, Hammer Films finally acquired the surviving footage from the extended cut in 2011 for inclusion in a forthcoming "definitive" restoration. See more »
Hammer made several classic horror movies : The Curse Of Frankenstein, The Curse Of The Werewolf, Dracula - Prince Of Darkness, The Devil Rides Out, She, The Quatermass trilogy amongst others. However for me, their first Dracula movie is a true horror masterpiece.
Although based on the novel by Bram Stoker, the movie doesn't even try to adapt the book. Jimmy Sangster simply took the characters and events he needed, and went off and did his own movie, and it works brilliantly.
Jonathon Harker arrives at Castle Dracula under the guise of being Dracula's new librarian. Actually however, he's there to destroy the vampire. When he fails, Dracula wrecks vengeance on Harker's fiancé and family, while Van Helsing arrives in the hope of ending what Harker couldn't....
As I said, nothing like the novel but it doesn't matter. This is the best Dracula movie ever made.
To begin with, the set design by Bernard Robinson is superb. His design of the castle is fantastic. Jack Asher, the cinematographer does a stunning job lighting the movie, especially Dracula's first appearance. The music by James Bernard, taking it's cues from the title, Dracula, is wonderful, bringing excitement, dread, fear and everything you could ask for.
Terence Fisher, Hammer's most important director, keeps things going at a brisk pace, staging some brilliant set-pieces. Fisher made most of the early horror classics: The Curse Of Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Curse Of The Werewolf. He also made many more movies for Hammer, but this is his finest movie.
Where Hammer got lucky was Christopher Lee. His Dracula performance is gripping. He's charming when he needs to be - watch the brilliance of his first appearance. He appears at the stop of the stairs looking menacing, thanks to the lighting and music, then walks down the stairs and introduces himself! Brilliant.
But Lee is scary and terrifying as he needs to be, when stalking Mina and Lucy, but also almost passionate with them. And he proves a worthy adversary for Van Helsing....
...which brings me to Peter Cushing. Simply put the best Van Helsing on screen, played by the best actor ever in the horror genre. Cushing brings compassion to Van Helsing (watch the scene with the child in the graveyard) but also determination and obsession at ridding the world of evil. Even though he made a lot of horror movies in his career, and thus is somewhat under-rated as an actor, he never gave a bad performance and here like Lee he is at the top of his game. it's no wonder that they both became like a double-act in horror movies!! Although by todays standard, some of the acting may appear wooden, or 'ham(!)' and some of the effects, especially in the movie's stunning climax may have dated the movie as a whole has not.
It's still a battle between good v evil, which reaches a climax in a brilliant finale in the castle as Darcula and Van Helsing face each other. If you watch carefully, you'll see it's Van Helsing's knowledge that wins out, not strength.
When I saw this a child it scared the hell out of me. Time and repeated showings may have weakened the scare factor of this movie, but this is still,and will always be, my favorite horror movie.
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