Horror of Dracula!

Posted by drew On August - 27 - 20102,723 views

Writing a review for something like “Horror of Dracula” is going to be tough. But I recently re-watched the film, so I’m going to give it a shot. The truth is that this film takes up a big part of my mental landscape. So before I start, here’s a little background on my relationship with this film.

When I was a kid, there were two types of horror movies; Slasher movies and Universal monster movies. Slasher movies were big, brash, and in color. The Universal horror shows were moody, gothic, and in glorious black and white. I loved both, but the two worlds never quite met. And vampires lived exclusively in the monochrome landscape that Universal offered up.

Then one dark and stormy night, I happened upon a showing of Terence Fisher’s “Horror of Dracula,” starring Christopher Lee, as the Count. I had nightmare for weeks. Bela Lugosi’s take on Dracula was very alien and distant. Creepy for sure, but nothing that I couldn’t handle, even as a small child. Christopher Lee was another matter altogether. Looking nearly seven feet tall, with blood-shot eyes, and furious body language. I thought Lee was going to leap out of the television and eat me. My young mind couldn’t imagine a more horrible figure.

I similarly marveled at Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing. Quite a bit younger than the vampire hunters featured in the Universal series, Cushing was a swashbuckler, as well as a man of science. His stately, moral manner made him the perfect foil of Lee’s Dracula. Plus, it had me believing that “vampire slayer” was probably the coolest job anyone could aspire to.

So, “Horror of Dracula” looms largely in my mind. As an adult, I do see the film’s flaws of course. For example, some of the secondary players are rather stagy in their acting. I actually prefer the semi-sequel, “Brides of Dracula,” which is also directed by Terence Fisher.

Having since read Dracula several times over, they certainly took their fair share of liberties with the novel. This is of course, fairly common place for Dracula movies. Although, the movie does come closer to the dire tone of the book, which is more than most films. But some of the changes seem a little odd; completely cutting out the character of “Renfield” being the most glaring alteration.

Still, it’s a ripping-good, gothic monster movie. Beautiful to look at at many times, with bold colors that give it an almost pop-art feel. This is a terror tale with atmosphere to spare, and it shows. While other vampire movies might be more solid from top to bottom, there are few that are scarier and more haunting. As dark romances go, this is more than just a one night stand. You’ll likely be in love for life.

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