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 hunt the predatory villain when... Read allJonathan 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 hunt the predatory villain when he targets Harker's loved ones.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 hunt the predatory villain when he targets Harker's loved ones.
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.
- Nov 1, 2007