As Dr. Van Helsing searches the country side for his friend Jonathan Harker, he soon discovers his friend met a terrible demise by the hands of a Count Dracula. Now Van Helsing must rush to the aide of Harkers relatives as Dracula’s vengeance becomes a plague upon the entire Harker family.
Horror Of Dracula
The year was 1957 when Hammer Film Productions made its first attempt to revamp the popular horror icons. First starting with Frankenstein, Hammer would produce their first in color horror film titled The Curse of Frankenstein. Placing Peter Cushing as the infamous Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the monster. The film was a major success in both England and The United States and would be the first to spawn a new trend of gothic horror films. From there on Hammer would proceed to make Dracula (or Horror of Dracula).
Horror of Dracula was directed by Terance Fisher and starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough and Melissa Stribling. The movie was a commercial success and would even spawn many sequels and would help push Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee into legendary status within the horror community.
Like Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula was a much darker and gory work of art compared to the 1931 Universal Picture Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. This was the film that portrayed Dracula in a much darker and evil manner by showing him with bloody fangs and red eyes. Also, taking away the power of transforming into a bat, wolf or fog was taken away as well. Where Lugosi was more of a charismatic disguised with a charming demeanor. Christopher Lee’s Dracula is dreadful and more monster than man.
An Odd Theory
What I find appealing about Horror Of Dracula is the entire motive of Dracula in this film. You would think Dracula is some great evil force hellbent on making people suffer. But he’s not! So we have this movie begin with Jonathan Harker coming to Dracula’s castle with the intent of killing him. We don’t know why, it could be because Dracula is a vampire. Which is kind of rude if you ask me. Here he is, letting some guy stay in his castle and shows him great hospitality to only have that hospitality returned with the intent to kill. How are we to know how bad Dracula is? Maybe he’s not so much a curse on society. If you ask me he could be doing something cool like Dexter. Killing off the pedophiles and murderers only. But it gets worse, this Harker guy is a monster.
So one night Harker comes across a lady that claims to be a slave of Dracula. She tries biting Harker cause she’s a younger vampire and doesn’t have the urge under control. Dracula stops her and stops Harker from killing her because this bitch is his wife. Dracula takes her away to the bedroom for some blood sucking intervention and maybe a little sweet love. This Harker guy has the balls to come while they’re sleeping and kill Draculas woman! Who the hell does this Harker guy think he is? Imagine some guy coming into your house and killing your wife?
So Dracula awakes and is pissed but wants to teach Harker a lesson and turns him into a vampire. This is all done so Harker gets a taste of what its like to crave blood and have fangs for teeth. You know how much vampires must bite their tongues? Well now Harker knows. But now Dracula is alone and he’s looking for a new wife after five hundred years of blissful marriage. So he goes after the only available chick he knows, Harkers wife Lucy. These ass holes aren’t aware of this but she is totally down and soon she turns into one as well. But no! This Van Helsing guy is racist towards vampires and doesn’t like the idea of Dracula having a lady. So he kills his new bride without even asking if it would be ok! So Dracula is pissed and gives love one more shot.
But the guy isn’t thinking clearly. He goes for a married woman named Mina. Big mistake, but can we really blame him? So he takes Mina back to his home but his attempts proves to be his doom as the husband Arthur and Van Helsing chase Dracula back to his home and instead of just discussing things and taking the wife back, Van Helsing kills Dracula with sunlight! That would be like me killing a person with a peanut allergy by shoving a can of Peter Pan peanut butter down their gullet!
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Dracula isn’t the villain. He’s a dude that lost his wife and since Eharmony wasn’t around back then, he did the best he could at finding a lover. The real monsters in this movie is Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing! This movie is a modern day civil rights message to interracial couples! Van Helsing represents a pissed off racist culture that doesn’t want to see different races together. I know this because I’ve watched this movie over and over again. I feel bad for Dracula and wish him the best. But the guy dies and I can’t even imagine the pain he felt being burned alive! What a tragic tale of woe!
So that’s probably not it at all but I think you can kind of see how it jokingly could be seen that way. In all seriousness, this movie is one of my most favorite vampire films and depictions of Dracula to ever grace the screen. Christopher Lee is a phenomenal presence and it’s no wonder he’s arguably the best to ever play the part of Dracula. It is funny how the guy only talks in the first five or ten minutes of the picture. But like Karloff, Lee is able to be as commanding and scary with physical acting. He would go on to play Dracula ten times and although there are many good sequels, Horror of Dracula will always be the best.
It’s a much more serious approach to the films and the sets aren’t presented in an artistic manner like the 30’s Universal Monster style. Where the tone of 1931’s Dracula is much more artistic and environmentally appealing, Horror of Dracula is a more adult style film with actual blood and gore. Props to the special effects department when Dracula dies. It may not be as creepy for todays standards but serves as an amazing artistic peice of film any horror fan should love and adore.
Hammer films did something that hasn’t been done yet today and that was prolong the love and adoration of the classic monster films. They took Dracula and re-designed him in a manner that spoke to the current culture. It made people who were basically in fear of outer space films and atomic warfare and brought everyone back home. Without these films it makes me wonder if films like The Monster Squad would have happened. After all, Dracula from that movie is much more in-line with Christopher Lee’s depiction than Bela Lugosi.
I love this film and the tone it gives off. Something about Hammer horror is soft and poetic. Yet gore like Lucy’s exorcism make you cringe and smile. The colors are saturated and the sounds sound distinct. It will always remain a favorite film that I believe has yet to be challenged. That is why Horror of Dracula is proudly praised for day twenty one of Horror Movie Marathon 2019!