Dracula (1958)

AKA: "The Horror of Dracula"

Tag line : Don't Dare See it Alone...

Dracula (1958)Hoping to replicate the success of the earlier "The Curse of Frankenstein", Hammer films quickly rushed this adaptation of "Dracula" into production. Which re-united director Terence Fisher with stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

This twist on the old Bram Stoker novel starts with young Johnathon Harker (John Van Eyssen) arriving at a castle, somewhere in Transylvania. The castle belongs to the mysterious Count Dracula (played with unholy relish by Christopher Lee) and Harker has been employed to work in his vast library. But it seems Dracula is no ordinary Count, and Mr Harker is no ordinary Librarian. Yes, the old Count is in fact a vampire and Harker took the job as a ploy to end his reign of terror. But unfortunately, things go horribly wrong for him...

It's several weeks later that his friend Dr Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), comes looking for him and discovers the grisly fate that befell him. However, when he returns home, he finds that some strange illness has befallen Johnathon's fiance Lucy (Carol Marsh). Turns out that Dracula has set his sights on Harker's former fiance and in-laws and its now up to Van Helsing and Lucy's brother Arthur (Michael Gough) to try and stop the count before he wipes out the whole family.

As with Hammer's version of "Frankenstein", this adaptation is notably different to the original Bram Stoker tale and other film versions. Here, Johnathon Harker is a librarian not an estate agent and the entire story takes place in Eastern Europe, and doesn't move to England as in the original story (though all the actors sound extremely English for a tale supposedly set in what's now Romania and the surrounding countries). But this is still a hugely enjoyable gothic vampire tale and is another one of the films that got me into horror in the first place, so would heartily recommend it to you.

If you haven't added this to your collection yet, seek out the 2012 restored version, as this contains extra scenes not in previous versions.

 Overall Marks : 8/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Alternate tag lines "The chill of the tomb won't leave your blood for hours... after you come face-to-face with DRACULA!", "The terrifying lover who died - yet lived!", "Who Will Be His Bride Tonight?".

  • The film was retitled "The Horror of Dracula" for its US release to avoid confusion with the B&W Bela Lugosi film, which was still playing cinemas at the time.

  • The films budget was 81,000.

  • The cape worn by Christopher Lee was discovered in a costume shop in London in 2007 during their annual inventory. It had been missing for over 30 years.

  • The only version available on previous home video releases and TV showings was taken from an American print of the film entitled "The Horror of Dracula". Fortunately, a print with the original title card was found in the BFI archives in 2007 and released on disc in the UK in 2013.

  • Christopher Lee only had 13 lines of dialogue in the film, which were all spoken to Johnathon Harker at the start. Apart from some hisses and snarls, he never speaks any words to any of the characters for the rest of the film.

  • John Van Eyssen, who played Johnathon Harker, left acting a few years after this release and went on to become the managing director of the UK branch of Columbia Pictures.

  • For many years there had been rumours that Count Dracula's disintegration was originally much longer and gorier and that the full version had been used for the Japanese release of the film. It wasn't until 2011 that a dedicated fan managed to track down a copy in the archives of the National film centre in Tokyo, which Hammer films managed to acquire and digitally clean up for inclusion on the 2013 UK release of the film.

Extra Info.

Cast & Crew.

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