Directed by Terence Fisher
Written by Jimmy Sangster (based on the Bram Stoker novel)
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, and Carol Marsh
After Jonathan Harker attacks Dracula at his castle, the vampire travels to a nearby city, where he preys on the family of Harker’s fiancée. The only one who may be able to protect them is Dr. van Helsing, Harker’s friend and fellow-student of vampires, who is determined to destroy Dracula, whatever the cost.
My first horror film was the Hammer classic, Horror of Dracula; another example of my parents’ lax movie supervision. I was all of six years old when my eyes first met Christopher Lee’s hypnotic gaze. I loved staying up late to watch movies on the weekends, and usually watched stuff like Steve Martin, James Bond movies, even the occasional KISS Halloween special. Little did I know I was horror fiend in waiting; a nocturnal sleeper agent. I don’t know why, but I loved rolling fog. I loved creepy set dressings and dramatic cinematography. There’s also something terrifying about horror that uses strong religious imagery. I was basically waiting to discover Hammer Films. This films remains a fan favorite and tier one example of the genre. No disrespect to Universal, but I prefer Lee and Hammer’s stunning scores any day of the week.
Based on Stoker’s novel, Dracula, Hammer draws upon the charisma of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in this 1958 gothic masterpiece. Lee plays the seductive and powerful Count Dracula in ways only Lee can. I vividly remember his wide, bloodshot eyes from my childhood. Most kids would be scarred for life, but I was as much his thrall as poor Lucy. Peter Cushing portrays Dr. Van Helsing with a refined elegance only he could bring to the role, adding the perfect contrast to Lee.
Filmed in Germany, the exterior shots are as lush and beautiful as the gothic castle in which Dracula resides. Red velvet drapes, iron candelabra, those awesome long shadows, they all create a perfect horror atmosphere. I bought this from Amazon Instant Video and the HD is amazing. If you’re in the mood for old school Dracula films, the pacing and casting elevates this above countless knockoffs.