Hammer Studios presents the first of their confrontations between Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing and Nazi hunter/actor/heavy metal singer Christopher Lee’s Dracula in Horror of Dracula! I don’t really have too much to say about this one because we’ve all scene or heard about this one before at some point in our lives, Lee is legendary as the Lord of Darkness, and Peter Cushing never fails to amaze.
The film is a loose adaptation (read: abridged) of the Bram Stoker novel. Which is fine, because even by 1958 the story had already been done enough and was in need of new blood. Hammer Studios gave it to us and it’s a solid movie. It begins just as the novel, with Johnathan Harker staying at Dracula’s castle, but then side-steps a bunch of narrative mumbo jumbo that would have bogged down the film by killing off Harker at the beginning of the film and making Van Helsing the hero proper. And thank goodness for that, because it helped launch both Lee and Cushing’s career into super-stardom. The rest of the film follows Van Helsing’s tracking of Dracula as he starts to feed on Lucy and Mina. After Lucy is killed, the STAKES are raised and leads to a showdown between the forces of good and evil in a very shocking for that time ending that features Dracula being burnt to a crisp by the power of sunlight (if you haven’t seen it, I’m sorry for spoiling it, but you had almost 70 years to see it).
I’m a bit of misfit in my love for Hammer’s Dracula franchise in that my favorite of the series is The Satanic Rites of Dracula in which the storyline is taken to contemporary (1970s) setting and features Dracula as a suave businessman who is brought back from the dead by, what else? A satanic ritual! Then he battles a Van Helsing descendant who is a secret agent. The movie is just as silly as it is entertaining and I feel it’s highly under-rated and as I’m writing this I realize perhaps that’s the one I should have watched instead of this one but I digress.
There is a lot more to be said about this film and it’s lasting legacy, but I’m not going to go into all that. It’s a cool movie, but honestly I wasn’t much in a movie watching frame of mind today and thus you all get short-changed.
I’ll make it up to you later though baby don’t worry, daddy still loves you.