One of my most favorite tropes in all horror is the way a villain dies in one film and then in the next easily comes back. It’s one of those things that remains a constant in all horror, right up there with the killer not truly being dead and coming back for one last kill. We all know even though someone gets a good saw blade to the head. Is blown up into a million pieces or melted down to a very fine liquid… that in some way the horror lords from above will find a way to bring our lovely killers back to life!
Sure you can sever a dudes head and push his corpse in a vat of nitroglycerin. Then take that frozen block of tissue, ship it to Bora Bora on a freighter and stash it in some secret government bunker. But then to be extra cautious, take his head and ship it to outer space on the next SpaceX launch with Captain James T. Kirk! Some how, in some bizarre way the powers that be will make that killer come back. Maybe in the next movie Captain Kirk clogs the shitter on the shuttle causing a massive breach in the hull. Sending the ship crashing back to earth and it just so happens it’s crash site is Bora Bora! The ship hits the earth on this island and the head and body are once again reunited. The killer is made new and quickly boards a shipment container that then takes him to South America. Our dude then joins a large human caravan bound for the southern American border. For months he treads harsh wasteland, battling viscous animals in the deep jungles and succumbing to severe disease. One night a band of raiders invade his camp and steal his ukulele and poncho. But still he presses on, headed for the great state of Texas! The killer makes his way through because the border is a fucking mess and he’s home! The powers that be have made it possible for him to return to his life of slaughter and pandemonium.
It’s a wonderful thing how our favorite killers keep getting knocked down and then coming back. Its because without them we don’t get our fulfillment. In a sense we are the ones that bring them back. We’re the powers that be! The ones that bring the Jasons and Freddy’s back to continue on their job. It is through our constant need to see mayhem and slaughter that we give them power to return. This trope was made common in the Bronze Age of horror but it is was in the Silver Age of horror where it was established. One of these shining examples were in late fifties Hammer horror films. For this we honor one of the nine Hammer horror Dracula films titled Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.
Dracula Has Risen From the Grave is a 1968 horror film directed by Freddie Francis and stars Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson and Barry Andrews. It marks the third sequel to the 1958 film Horror of Dracula and the fourth installment for the Dracula franchise. This would also be Lee’s third time playing the role. While Horror of Dracula and The movie received mostly mixed reviews for it primarily re-doing what has already been done with the past three movies.
In order to end the fear of a small European town a high ranking clergy man attempts to exorcise the castle of Dracula. As he bars the entrance to the castle with a giant cross, but as the exorcism commences, a terrible storm occurs and a scared priest strikes his head, causing the blood to trickle down on the frozen resting place of Dracula. With the taste of blood awakening the count, he sets off to seek revenge on the clergy man that locked him away from his castle.
You can’t have a marathon without a good Hammer horror picture. At the time, these films were very bold and were actually criticized tremendously for their violence and sexual nature. Dracula himself wasn’t what many movie goers were used to since the 1930’s Dracula depictions. But Christopher Lee as Dracula certainly changed the demeanor of the count. Making him more of a foreboding terror with deep-seated intent in all he does. Blood dripped from his fangs and his eyes were filled with red lustful rage. In Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Dracula is not just out for blood like before. But seeking revenge against this Monsignor Ernest Mueller for merely blocking any entrance into the castle. In order to get his revenge, Drac enslaves a faithless priest in serving him to ensnare Mueller’s niece and to make her his vampire bride. Dracula is much darker and sinister in this and would satisfy more modern horror fans that would prefer a darker count than the Universal style.
What I like about the Hammer horror Dracula films is the installment of the never dying killer/monster trope. These movies pushed Dracula into a realm of familiarity and expectancy that it most certainly inspired the likes of Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street. There is a continuity with the films where they can easily kill Dracula off… but then bring him back. It’s like the directors were given free-range to do whatever they wanted with the stories. But they had to do it within a templated frame. In Dracula Prince of Darkness, Dracula falls through cracked ice and is frozen to then in the next film come back. Like 80’s slasher films they always seemed to find a way to come back, the Hammer Dracula films started it all.
There’s some pretty good scenes in this movie and like all Hammer films, there is a great work in creating eerie and gothic settings. Lee is always awesome and in this, once more presents himself in that larger than life appearance. Sure it may be a templated kind of film. But one can find a certain appeal in story of Paul, a non-believing youth that in his battle with Dracula; finds faith and peace. You’ll love many scenes in this movie like when Paul attempts to stake a sleeping Dracula in his sleep and especially the end where Dracula meets his doom. All in all, it’s a good film that continues on a legacy we should all come to appreciate. The enduring battle of good vs evil strikes again with this. Dracula will always come back which reminds us to always fight the good fight and be ready for any evil that would destroy us. This is why I have chosen Dracula has Risen from The Grave for day seventeen of my Horror Movie Marathon.
Thanks for reading my short post! Some times in a marathon it helps to be simple and today is that day. But don’t let your day seventeen of the horror season stop there. Check out these other day seventeen posts from past marathons.
Also, if you would like to check in on the past films we have covered for this marathon then check these out!