The Horror of Dracula (1958)

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Movie Review
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Horror of Dracula

Directed By: Terence Fisher

Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Van Eyssen, Michael Gough, Mellisa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Valerie Gaunt

Subgenre: Vampires

Synopsis: Peter Van Helsing works to defeat the nefarious Count Dracula.

Thoughts:  This is the initial Hammer film based upon the Bram Stoker novel and was released internationally as Dracula, but was renamed The Horror of Dracula here in the United States to avoid confusion with the 1931 classic.

If you don’t know this story by now (maybe you have been living under a rock), read the book and then watch the 1931 version with Bela Lugosi and then this version with Christopher Lee. This is an excellent adaptation of the story and gives the 1931 Universal version a run for its money. Many people prefer the Hammer version, but I think I still prefer the original, call it nostalgia, but I do know that every time I watch this, the race gets closer.

Even though this was far from Christopher Lee’s first role, this really put him on the map.  He would go on to star in several Hammer movies, often times as the titular Dracula.  One thing I noticed that was pulled from the Universal version was the tendency to light Christopher Lee’s eyes as they did to Bela Lugosi, but with far less effect.  Lee had a ferociousness to him that Legosi did not.  While Christopher Lee portrays an excellent version of the Count, I thought that Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing was amazing, easily my favorite part of the film.  It’s a pleasure to see these two play archenemies.

If you’re a horror fan and don’t know the name of Terence Fisher, take a minute and check out his filmography.  From 1957 to 1973 the man cranked out an amazing number of genre titles, mostly for Hammer.  One of Fisher’s greatest strengths his framing his shots and letting his stars do the heavy lifting.  You’ll see names like Lee, Cushing, Oliver Reed, and Vincent Price in Fisher’s movies.

The Horror of Dracula is an absolute classic.  Anyone interested in exploring Hammer titles should start here.  It’s an excellent example of gothic horror and is a fantastic movie.

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Comments
  1. Wayne Adams says:

    Oh, it was massive in America. They had cracked that market with The Curse of Frankenstein, but this just took it to new heights, and was the film that made Christopher Lee a star. I think The Curse Of Frankenstein made Peter Cushing an international star but with Dracula, Lee was also elevated to A-list status, at least as far as the horror genre was concerned. And of course I’m stating the obvious here but it was the film that gave us the definitive version of that character.

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