Dracula
(1958)

Video Clips
(click below)

LET ME KISS YOU

FAITH

 

 

Director:                       Terence Fisher
Writing credits:            Bram Stoker (novel)

                                      Jimmy Sangster
Executive Producer:  
Michael Carreras
Producer:                     Anthony Hinds
                                      Anthony Nelson Keys
Original Music:             James Bernard
Production Design:      Bernard Robinson

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This is the third hammer horror film to make it onto my list. Its importance lies in the fact that along with Frankenstein (1958) the year previous – this film started a genre of movies that was to last for about 15 years.

The story is a variation on the novel, characters names get changed around, the location is different. But the film compensates by bringing real tension and genuine fear to nearly every scene though both the acting, set design and James Bernard’s spine chilling score. Indeed, Bram Stoker's original Dracula story may as well have been written especially for Hammer with its rich mixture of horror, dread and understated sexual overtones. The rich and colourful Victorian settings and voluptuous women, both of which became Hammer staples, only added to the mood and tone of this version of Dracula. Peter Cushing is a personal hero of mine and in this film, along with his old friend Christopher Lee, he really shows how real, genuine, enthusiastic acting can compensate for not having a massive budget. This movie is often contrasted with Coppola's version (1992) - but even with its enormous budget and incredible special effects the very wooden acting would make me choose this one every time.

 

Hammer didn’t try to recreate the novel – nor did they try to remake the Lugosi (1931) version either – this film was a departure from both genres. Although they would not have realised it at the time it was to spawn a highly successful generic series of horror movies that would be stylised though vivid colour, plunging necklines, a pounding score, superb (value for money) sets and some highly committed acting. In the same way as Romero opening up a genre with Night of the Dead (1968) and Scream (1996) re-envisaged teen slasher movies – this film would pave the way for a British horror onslaught like the world had never witnessed before.

 

The sets that Hammer used were used and used and used over again - so whilst the scenes maybe don't have the 'class' that some to today the glorious drippy colour, acting and music is what sets the tension and there is plenty of that. Remember these films were shot on a very tight budget and they had to make the most of what they had - that they did - with panache!

 

One of my favourite 'incidents' comes in the final scene which I have included as a video clip on the previous page. When Peter runs across the table to prevent Chris from getting up on it he knocks over a couple of books. Watch the biggest stack as it falls over! Perhaps they left it in as a goof, in those days people couldn't watch movies over and over as we do now - with the tension in the scene I'm sure that would have been the last thing on your mind in the cinema!

 

 

 

 

                          

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Dracula