Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960)

Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963)

Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)

Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Mario Bava's Kill Baby, Kill (1966)

Sergio Martino's The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (1971)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks on High Heels (1971)

Duccio Tessari's The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

Emilio Miraglia's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

Peter Newbrook's The Asphyx (1972)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks at Midnight (1972)

Richard Friedman's Doom Asylum (1972)

Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (1972)

Emilio Miraglia's The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Sergio Martino's Torso (1973)

Alfred Sole's Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (1981)

Juan Piquer Simón's Pieces (1982)

Harry Bromley Davenport's Xtro (1982)

Wayne Berwick's Microwave Massacre (1983)

Joseph S. Cardone's The Slayer (1982)

Stephen King's Firestarter (1984)

Buddy Cooper's The Mutilator (1984)

Larry Stewart's The Initiation (1984)

Steve Miner's House (1985)

Tibor Takacs The Gate (1987)

Ethan Wiley's House II: The Second Story (1987)

Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage (1988)

Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Juan Piquer Simon's Slugs (1988)

James Isaac's The Horror Show (1989)

Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Lewis Abernathy's House IV The Repossession (1992)

Anders Jacobsson's Evil Ed (1995)

Wes Craven's Mind Ripper (1995)

Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster (1997)

Terence Fisher's Horror of Dracula (1958) Retrospective

Horror of Dracula (1958) on IMDb

But at that instant, another sensation swept through me as quick as lightning. I was conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being as if lapped in a storm of fury. As my eyes opened involuntarily I saw his strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with giant's power draw it back, the blue eyes transformed with fury, the white teeth champing with rage, and the fair cheeks blazing red with passion. But the Count! Never did I imagine such wrath and fury, even to the demons of the pit. His eyes were positively blazing. The red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hell fire blazed behind them. His face was deathly pale, and the lines of it were hard like drawn wires. The thick eyebrows that met over the nose now seemed like a heaving bar of white-hot metal. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurled the woman from him, and then motioned to the others, as though he were beating them back...

For those of you who have read and enjoyed Bram Stoker’s enthralling 1887 novel, “Dracula”, the aforementioned text will be instantly recognisable, as it describes Jonathan Harker’s terrifying encounter with the fearsome title character. In an instant, upon reading the text, our minds spring to the moment of pure horror where Christopher Lee, in perhaps his most recognisable role, his face contorted with rage, eyes burning wildfire red, leaps across the table and throws Valerie Gaunt across the floor, whilst John Van Eyssen stands aghast, frozen with fear, it really is an exhilarating moment in cinematic history, and inspired a generation of filmmakers and filmgoers alike. Unlike Tod Browning’s 1931 Universal classic, Dracula, Hammer favoured the more colourful approach that saw The Curse of Frankenstein capture the hearts of the horror-loving public, and in many ways, this boldness is what sets Hammer’s interpretation of Dracula apart from the Universal film, and alongside Jack Asher’s beautiful cinematography and Bernard Robinson’s lavish but inexpensive sets, not to mention James Bernard’s haunting score, one can quickly understand why, however, it is undoubtedly the performances of Peter Cushing as the obsessive Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as his nemesis, Dracula, that the film will be forever remembered and adored throughout the world.

The Horror of Dracula: Origins and Inspiration

Dracula takes place on the Third of May, 1885, and begins with the arrival of Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) who has travelled from the nearby village of Klausenburg to Castle Dracula, with the intent of cataloguing an extensive library of books. Once inside, Harker finds himself alone, however, he discovers that his host has left a letter, apologising for his absence, with instructions to eat well and to make himself comfortable. As he finishes his meal, Harker meets a young woman (Valerie Gaunt) who appears slightly distressed and asks for help to escape the clutches of her captor, who she states is keeping her prisoner, but she is interrupted by a tall silhouetted figure at the top of the staircase, Count Dracula (Christopher Lee), whose appearance matches that of an aristocratic nobleman, dressed in complete and unrelieved black, a long black cloak completes the look. After showing Harker to the guest room, Dracula leaves him the key to the library and pays particular attention to a photograph of his fiancée, and promptly locks him in his room. A surprised Harker sits and writes into his diary, where it is revealed that he has come to the castle to, “forever end this man’s reign of terror”, meanwhile, Dracula departs, his cloak billowing behind him.

Later that night, the door to the guest room is unlocked and an intrigued Harker decides to explore the castle, where he again meets the young woman, who pleads for help, and describes he Count as an “evil man who does terrible things”, forcing Harker to relent and agree to help, however she attempts to bite his neck but is thwarted by an enraged Dracula, eyes ablaze, who leaps across a table and throws the woman across the room, and knocks Harker unconscious when he attempts to intervene. Back in the guest room, Harker awakens and is horrified to discover that he has been bitten by the woman, and knows that it is only a matter of time before he too becomes a vampire, and vows to discover the resting place of Dracula and end his existence forever.

Before heading for the mausoleum, Harker stores his diary in a shrine and makes his way to the crypt, where he discovers both Dracula and his bride resting in their tombs, and decides to stake the female first, a terrifying scream accompanies the blows, which alerts Dracula, who promptly disappears from his tomb, and reappears at the top steps of the mausoleum, and as night falls, Harker realises that he is trapped.

A few weeks later, Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), a colleague and friend of Jonathan Harker, arrives at a local tavern and asks the Landlord (George Woodbridge) of his whereabouts, and is quickly rebuffed, however, a barmaid, Inga (Barbara Archer) does remember and hands over the diary, discovered at a nearby crossroads, which leads Van Helsing to Castle Dracula, where he is startled by the sudden appearance of a horse drawn hearse, containing a white coffin. After searching the castle and discovering very little, Van Helsing finds the mausoleum, which contains the withered corpse of the female vampire and also the remains of Jonathan Harker, now a fully-fledged vampire. Van Helsing has no choice but to hammer a stake into his friend’s heart.

Van Helsing visits the Holmwood house and informs Arthur Holmwood (Michael Gough) and his wife, Mina (Melissa Stribling) that Jonathan Harker has died, however, Arthur is suspicious and isn’t satisfied, and informs Van Helsing that Harker was to marry his sister, Lucy (Carol Marsh), who has recently been confined to bed, following an illness. After bidding her brother and sister-in-law goodnight, Lucy throws open her French windows and awaits a mysterious guest, meanwhile, Van Helsing explains his interest in the case and offers his interpretation of the vampire, and concludes that Count Dracula, “the propagator of this unspeakable evil”, has disappeared and that he must be found and destroyed.

The following morning, Mina discovers that Lucy appears far weaker than normal and calls for Doctor Seward (Charles Lloyd Pack) who insists upon treating her for a rare form of anaemia, however, she isn’t satisfied and seeks out Van Helsing at his hotel, and explains the events behind Lucy’s sudden illness, which alerts the Doctor, who suggests that he must be allowed to visit her at once, where he realises that his worst fears have been proved correct after he discovers the puncture marks on her neck and orders all windows to be shut and for the room to be filled with garlic flowers, stating in a rather blunt manner, “I cannot impress this upon you strongly enough how important it is that you obey my instructions, do exactly as I say, and we may be able to save her, if you don’t, she will die”, and with that, Van Helsing departs.

Following his orders to the letter, several garlic flowers are positioned in Lucy’s bedroom, which she finds intolerable and orders Gerda (Olga Dickie) to remove them, as she can no longer stand the smell, which ultimately leads to her death, and a confrontation between Arthur and Van Helsing is inevitable, and as a result, the Doctor can no longer spare the details regarding the death of Jonathon Harker, and hands over the diary. Later that evening, Arthur and Mina are in the drawing room when Gerda enters and states that a Policeman (George Merritt) wishes to speak with them, as he has Tania (Janina Faye), Gerda’s daughter, who he discovered in a distressed state, who explains that she has seen “Aunt Lucy” whilst outside.

Determined to seek the truth, Arthur heads to the cemetery and discovers that his sister’s tomb is empty, and decides to wait for her return and before long, she appears with Tania alongside, but before she can attack him, Van Helsing arrives and thrusts a crucifix onto her forehead, which sends her scuttling back to her tomb, where the Doctor, with Arthur’s consent, releases her from the curse of the undead by plunging a stake into her heart, her nightmare at an end.

Back at the hotel, Arthur reads Harker’s diary, whilst Van Helsing explains the mythology behind the vampire legend, and deduces the hearse that came “tearing” out of Castle Dracula contained the Count, in a “bed of his own earth”, and set off for Ingstadt, a frontier post. Meanwhile Mina receives a message from a young lad (Paul Cole) who informs her that Arthur has asked to meet her at 49 Frederickstrasse, and that she mustn’t inform anyone. At the frontier desk, Van Helsing and Arthur attempt to persuade the Official (George Benson) to release the information regarding the whereabouts of the coffin and turn to bribery to get what they need, and discover the coffin has been taken to the very same address, where Mina has arranged to meet her husband, however, she is attacked by Dracula.

The following morning, Arthur and Van Helsing prepare to visit the undertaker (Miles Malleson) where they discover Dracula’s coffin has been removed, and return home to plan their next move. Arthur, concerned for Mina’s welfare, suggests that she have a crucifix, which instantly burns her hand, forcing her to collapse to the floor. Later that night, Van Helsing and Arthur hope that Dracula will put in an appearance and decide to watch the house, but they are unaware that the Count is already inside where he again attacks Mina. The following morning, a traumatised Arthur discovers the body of his wife, who is close to death, leaving Van Helsing little choice but to perform a blood transfusion, in order to save her life. With Mina apparently out of danger and the two men at a loss to how Dracula managed to find his way into the Holmwood house, Arthur asks Gerda to fetch some wine from the cellar, but the maid refuses, stating that Mina ordered her to stay clear, at this, Van Helsing quickly dashes to the cellar, where he discovers an empty white coffin and a fleeing Dracula, who kidnaps Mina and scoops her up “like a baby”, the Doctor throws a crucifix into the earth and, alongside a distressed Arthur, quickly gives chase, realising that the Count will make for the Castle. With a head start, Dracula arrives at the Castle and immediately begins to dig a grave for Mina, who he throws inside, but is thwarted by Van Helsing and Arthur, who rescues his wife, leaving the Doctor free to chase Dracula into the Castle, which culminates in a dramatic battle in the Library, and as morning approaches, Van Helsing quickly runs along a table and pulls a pair of heavy drapes from the window, which lets in a flood of sunlight, he then grabs a pair of candlesticks and uses them as a makeshift crucifix, forcing Dracula into the sunlight, where he disintegrates, piece by piece, into dust. Outside the Castle, the burn of the crucifix on Mina’s hand begins to disappear, and with Dracula defeated, the nightmare is finally at an end. 

The Origins of The Horror Of Dracula

In the spring of 1957, the then managing director of Hammer Films Ltd, James Carreras, his son Michael, and executive producer Anthony Hinds travelled to New York City, their sole intention was to secure a financial agreement with Warner Brothers to handle and distribute the studio’s first colour horror film, entitled The Curse of Frankenstein, featuring iconic performances from Peter Cushing as the much maligned Baron Victor Frankenstein and little known actor, Christopher Lee as The Creature. Impressed with Hammer’s vision for this updated retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, first published in 1818, Warner agreed to distribute the movie worldwide, a deal that satisfied both parties, leaving the delighted Hammer executives to return home, where soon after, The Curse of Frankenstein was duly completed and premiered on May 2nd, 1957, in London, and proved to be a huge success, both in financial terms and with the paying public, however, the executives at Hammer Films had already set the wheels in motion on a follow-up production, turning to Irish novelist Bram Stoker’s acclaimed 1887 Gothic horror novel, Dracula, which had already been adapted into film, both unofficially, with Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror”, in 1922, featuring a breathtakingly chilling performance from Max Schreck as “Count Orlock”, and Universal’s official “Dracula”, in 1931, directed by Tod Browning with Hungarian stage actor Bela Lugosi in the title role, a role he would be familiar with, as he previously appeared as “Count Dracula” in a Broadway adaption of Stoker’s novel; an American-Spanish language version of “Dracula” was also filmed alongside Universal’s film, directed by George Melford, and filming took place at night, using the same sets and is often deemed to be artistically superior than Browning’s take on the novel, as the Spanish crew were able to take advantage of watching dailies from Universal’s movie, and could take note of the various camera angles and lighting effects, thus creating a more “polished” production. 

To enable them to bring their interpretation of Bram Stoker’s novel to fruition, Hammer Films kept the faith with their tried and tested trio of producers, namely that of Michael Carreras, Anthony Hinds and Anthony Nelson Keys, as all three had overseen the successful production of The Curse of Frankenstein, and as a result of this, Terence Fisher was brought in to once again direct, as was composer James Bernard, cinematographer Jack Asher, editor Bill Lenny, production designer Bernard Robinson, makeup artist Phil Leakey, and camera operator Len Harris. Another familiar face, Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster was also brought on board to adapt, condense and write the screenplay, the first draft of which was completed in around four weeks’ time and he admitted that a lot of changes had to be made between novel and script, “mainly because of the budget, as Hammer had very little money in those days. I think we made Dracula for around £85,000, and I wrote it as it was in the book, in as far as the travelling to England was concerned, but I remember Tony Hinds, who was the executive producer had read it and had said, ‘Oh no, a boat at night, in a Hammer film, forget it’, and so we made it a coach, driving across a border, which we had built at Bray Studios, but money was the main cause of the book being reduced”.

With a highly respected team in place, initial filming was due to begin on November 4th, 1957, however, unforeseen circumstances saw the production date pushed back to November 11th, with principal photography lasting for some six weeks, ending December 24th, 1957. It was during this period that production designer Bernard Robinson began to design and construct the various sets and stages that would be used for “Dracula”, at Down Place which was later renamed Bray Studios. Initially, at the time of filming, only three stages were used for the production, the aptly named Stage One, completed in September 1957 and consisted of a central staircase, on the left, a plinth adorned with two steps sits at the bottom, an oval door and a balcony on the right, whilst Stage Two was rather small and adjoined the main house, it was often described as “unusually cramped”, and housed sets such as the Holmwood drawing room, and Van Helsing’s hotel room, finally, Stage Three, which was rectangular in shape, largely consisted of Inns and bar areas. Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster described Bernard Robinson as, “the real hero of Hammer, as he could create the most wonderful sets for next to nothing and all of the sets that he built were marvellous, we had very little money and I think that he was one of the prime movers of the success of Hammer films”, whilst director Terence Fisher agreed, stating, “they were a joy to work on because whenever you went on a Bernie Robinson set, you could shoot with effect, they were designed in such a way that no matter where you stood and looked, you had interest”.

With the production of Dracula underway, Hammer began the casting process for many of the secondary roles, as both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, who had excelled and thrilled audiences up and down the country in The Curse of Frankenstein had already signed on to the production, Cushing on October 9th, and Lee October 29th, billed as “Britain’s top horror stars”, in many of the advance press releases. Michael Gough was handed the role of Arthur Holmwood, although in later life, he wasn’t particularly complementary about the production, believing that the film lacked imagination and atmosphere, whilst John Van Eyssen was to portray Jonathan Harker. Opposite Gough, the role of Mina Holmwood was offered to Melissa Stribling whilst Carol Marsh plays Lucy Holmwood, and Valerie Gaunt, who featured in The Curse of Frankenstein as the maid, Justine, portrays a vampire woman; nine-year-old Janina Faye filled the role of Tania. Other less prominent roles went to Olga Dickie, Barbara Archer, Charles Lloyd Pack, George Merritt, George Woodbridge and George Benson.

In early October 1957, Michael Carreras, Anthony Hinds and Anthony Nelson Keys met with director Terence Fisher and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster where they held a “story conference”, and discussed a variety of aspects concerning the script, and this involved what could be included in the finished production, and, as we have previously touched upon, Sangster’s screenplay eliminated many elements from Bram Stoker’s novel, such as characters and especially Dracula’s ability to change into either a bat or a wolf-like creature. Due to budgetary constraints, Hammer felt that they would not have been able to shoot the scene in a convincible manner, and the screenwriter suggests that this wasn’t the only reason for its exclusion, “One of my reasons was that it had never been done very well, and I tried to ground the script to some extent in reality, and I thought that the idea of Dracula being able to change into a bat or wolf, or anything like that, made the film seem more like a fairy tale than it needed to be, and fortunately, everybody agreed with me.”

Essentially, Dracula consists of three acts, which screenwriter Jimmy Sangster was very keen on, the arrival of Jonathan Harker at Castle Dracula, his staking of the Count’s bride, and his subsequent death, are generally regarded as act one, whilst the Count taking revenge on Harker, with Lucy Holmwood, and Van Helsing freeing her soul is seen as act two; Dracula attempting to take Mina, Arthur’s wife, as a vampire bride and his battle with Van Helsing brings an end to the proceedings, with act three. 

As Dracula begins, we have a beautiful thumping marching score, from James Bernard, almost Wagnerian in tone, full of tritones and bass drums; we have the title card, Dracula, which has been re-instated from the original British version of the movie. In many versions of the film, it is perhaps better known as “The Horror of Dracula”, so called as to distinguish it from the Universal classic, which was also playing in cinemas at the time of the film’s release in the United States. Initially, these opening scenes were to originally be filmed in black and white, as Jimmy Sangster’s script describes, “We open on a late afternoon sky, a sky heavy with menace, with angry clouds shouldering their way across one another, completely shrouding the sun, it is a scene in black and white, without any concession to colour whatsoever, just the graduations of grey black, black, grey”, before we cut to Dracula’s tomb, in the mausoleum, where, almost surreally, blood begins to spatter, forming a crucifix, and bringing the film into colour.

The first character that we see is that of Jonathan Harker, played by John Van Eyssen, a fearless vampire killer who arrives with the hopes of destroying the Count and ending his reign of terror and the first scene we’ll discuss is the initial meeting between Harker and Dracula, superbly portrayed by Christopher Lee, as he stands atop of the staircase and majestically sweeps into view, but first we meet the incredibly beautiful Valerie Gaunt as the “vampire bride”, in her second and final appearance in a Hammer film. Incidentally, she will forever go down in the history of the horror film as being the very first actress to appear as a vampire, in an English language film, sporting fanged teeth, an incredible honour indeed. With Gaunt quickly disappearing off-screen, we meet Christopher Lee’s enigmatic Count Dracula, and this scene can only be described as one of the great iconic moments in the history of Hammer horror, and director Terence Fisher was all too aware of the timing involved with this particular scene, and felt that Dracula should be silhouetted, as he initially felt that certain members of the audience may well have fallen about laughing when we are first introduced to the character. In his script, Sangster describes Dracula as, “A tall man, his face is thin and saturnine, with deep set eyes, high cheekbones, aquiline nose, high forehead topped by jet black hair”, but it’s also interesting to note that originally, Dracula was to have “two canine teeth, slightly longer than normal, and definitely more pointed”, and carrying a black hat, which, under Fisher’s guidance, was quickly revised, in alliance with stylist Henry Montash, make-up artist Phil Leakey, and costume designer Molly Arbuthnot, and in many ways, I don’t think Christopher Lee would have had the same reaction had Sangster’s initial description of the Count been allowed to prosper.

The next scene that we’ll look at takes place in The Library or “The Gothic Room”, and involves Valerie Gaunt, John Van Eyssen and Christopher Lee, and is perhaps the film’s first big horror scene, beautifully staged, in which we see Dracula, eyes ablaze and teeth bared, a scene which appears to capture the essence of Bram Stoker’s novel perfectly, where Jonathan Harker states, “The Count, never did I imagine such wrath and fury even in the demons of the pit, his eyes were positively blazing the red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hellfire blazed behind them”, and this is what we essentially see here, with Jack Asher’s lighting capturing the scene perfectly, and it’s fair to say that up until this point, vampires had never been seen in this way in film before, as per Bela Lugosi’s Dracula; here, Christopher Lee is almost animalistic in his approach to the character, and he has stated as such, “I have always seen him as a very savage and sensuous person, with a tremendous, primitive ferocity of blood, he had to be noble in his physical appearance and if he was going to be irresistible to women, he had to be a superior being, strong”, however, if Christopher Lee’s Dracula was to be “superior and strong”, one such character that certainly wasn’t any of these things was Jonathan Harker, or at the very least, John Van Eyssen’s interpretation of the character, as we see from his performance, most notably in the guestroom, after he has realised that he will soon become one of the “undead”, and we witness a lot of absurd gestural acting here, mostly of the despairing variety, which can only be described as ridiculous, and is quite literally mirrored later in the film, with Michael Gough’s performance as Arthur Holmwood descending into hilarity as Van Helsing stakes his poor sister, Lucy Holmwood.   

We move into an epilogue of sorts, where we discover the “true” hero of Dracula, which isn’t the Count, as one would suspect, but rather Doctor Van Helsing, expertly portrayed by Peter Cushing, who, at this point in his career, was still very much a television actor, and it’s interesting to note that he had only read Bram Stoker’s novel after being offered the role of Van Helsing, who was described as, “a little old Dutchman, with a bald head and sporting a small beard”, Cushing stated afterwards that, “All the production team got together and decided that it would be better to inject more vigour into the character, and therefore, I played the part more or less as myself, it would have been silly for myself to have been made up as a little old man, as they might as well have cast a little old man”. From this point on, Dracula tends to remain faithful to the novel, in the respect that the Count becomes little more than a contextual character, although his presence is felt throughout the remainder of the film, but we focus more on Van Helsing and his determination to destroy Dracula, whilst being introduced to Arthur Holmwood, his wife Mina and sister Lucy, who becomes the first to be put under the spell of the heinous vampire.

Unlike The Curse of Frankenstein, where the main female characters of Elizabeth and Justine were nothing more than fillers, in Dracula, this is reversed somewhat, with Melissa Stribling’s excellent portrayal of Mina, in particular, being more dominant than that of her husband Arthur, however, in Sangster’s original screenplay, Arthur was initially seen to be a more violently tempered man, and Terence Fisher admitted that the screenplays of the female roles were “so loosely written that it didn’t mean a thing, and I had to emphasise that these two women who were involved with Dracula were under a special influence. I think what I dragged out from between the lines was a little more than possibly was ever implied within the script and that may be pompous, but I believe it to be true”. We move on to the film’s next big horror scene with the staking and subsequent death of Lucy Holmwood, with Peter Cushing and Michael Gough acting side by side, and here, perhaps it is most relevant that we see a plethora of inconsistences between both actors, as Cushing, ever the consummate professional, and Gough flapping about, completely out of his depth and unmotivated and you can almost see the exasperation flicker across Cushing’s face, as Gough shows very little emotion in relevance to the scene, particularly where Lucy is staked, and again we see more gestural acting, with the clutching of a chest and the nonsensical clinging to the wall, and with that, the film reaches the third and final act.

We arrive at what has often been described as one of the most important scenes in the film by numerous Hammer aficionados over the years, as Mina excitedly awaits a visit from Dracula, and indeed, the interpretation of this scene appeared on various publicity outlets for the production, from trade advertisements to the famous quad poster, unfortunately, this particular scene annoyed the British Board of Film Classification, who found the scene “unacceptable” and in February, 1958, Board Secretary John Nicholls ordered producer Tony Hinds to abandon the scenes of Dracula and Mina, whenever sexual pleasure, kissing or fondling would be apparent, and, as such, the scene is extremely powerful; Dracula, a brooding malevolent figure, stands at the foot of the stairs, whilst Mina, a look of undeniable fear, coupled with that of excitement, awaits and clearly appears to be enjoying her experience. As the movie comes to a close, we come to what I would suggest is perhaps Hammer’s finest finale, a battle of wits between Dracula and Van Helsing, and this scene was the last to be shot, on the final day of production; we begin with a classic Peter Cushing moment, which sets the scene in motion, leading to the explosive finale in the Library, although, we have an irrelevant scene featuring the Official from the frontier post, and considering the need for urgency with the matter at hand, given that Mina’s life may well be at risk, it does seem strange to find a little light relief here. Dracula arrives at his ancestral home and casually throws Melisa Stribling’s stunt double into a freshly dug grave, before quickly dashing inside, Van Helsing hot on his heels; an interesting point to note, producer Tony Hinds stated that he had editor Bill Lenny remove all of Dracula’s footsteps, as he felt that this would add to the character’s supernatural element, however kudos must surely be given to both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, as the pair clash in an epic good vs. evil battle to the death, a physical struggle between two horror greats, and the performances of both are undeniably exemplary. As we discussed earlier, the scene where Dracula leaps across the table, almost animalistic in tone, this is practically mirrored here, except it is Van Helsing that makes the leap, tearing down the drapes, and ultimately destroying the Count with a pair of candlesticks doubling as a crucifix, and we can marvel at Sydney Pearson’s wonderful special effects and Phil Leakey’s extraordinary make-up effects, as Dracula disintegrates before our very eyes, and for me, this is perhaps one of the most effective finales that we have witnessed in a Hammer horror film, an inspirational scene for many reasons. 

Overall, retrospectively looking back at a film such as Dracula has been an outstanding experience, and there are an abundance of particulars that you may have missed the first time around, especially if you were old enough to watch the film the first time around when it premiered in the United Kingdom on 16th June, 1958, at the Gaumont Theatre, London, but regardless of whether this is your first or hundredth viewing of the movie, Dracula will simply continue its legacy of thrilling and entertaining all those who watch, as it really is such a beautiful film, and deserves it’s place in the annals of horror film history. 

©PaoloDeRossi/bloodyhorrific.com

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