With no less than three Dracula movies on the list (five if you count the Nosferatu adaptations), I figured I’d knock them all out back-to-back-to-back in a Dracula-a-thon. First up is 1958’s Dracula, retitled The Horror of Dracula in the United States; this is a British film, and the first of the renowned Hammer Horror series. Directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as the man himself, this film helped to revitalize the horror genre, and redefine it for a whole new generation of moviegoers.
The film’s plot and characterizations were very well done, and very natural; everything followed a natural turn of events, a course that turned and meandered right along with the last plot turn. All the characters seemed to react to each turn of the narrative, and that in turn would cause the narrative to react; I as quite a fan of this type of storytelling, and it worked out very well for the film. The production value was well utilized; it gave the film a very creepy and musty feel, as befitting the content. What really pushed this one over the edge in terms of presentation was the bombastic musical score, which flared and spiked with every movement of the plot, regardless of importance or haughtiness.
My only real quibble with the film, and it was a personal one, was that Christopher Lee as Dracula was very underutilized; aside from the opening with Harker, most of the rest of his screen time was relegated to just looking like a vampire, which he pulls off well enough, but I would’ve liked to see more of the Christopher Lee that made characters such as Lord Summerisle and Saruman such great characters. Still, this adaptation pretty much gets everything faultlessly right; it’s short, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and yet it remains full and complete. If you’re a fan of horror films, this is one you will likely not be able to do better than.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10