by Terence Fisher
Horror of Dracula
is based on Bram Stoker's novel the story is very different. In the
novel Jonathan Harker visits Castle Dracula in order to help the Count
purchase some property abroad. In
Horror of Dracula Harker arrives at the castle under the
pretence of wanting to work as the Count's new librarian, while in
actual fact he is a close friend of Dr Van Helsing and has every
intention of driving a stake through the Count's heart at the earliest
opportunity. Harker might have been better sticking to his books
because things don't go to plan. By the time Van Helsing comes looking
for his friend even Harker's own Dentist wouldn't recognize him and the
doctor is forced to resolve the situation the only way that he knows
how: with a large hammer and a wooden stake.
Before Harker gained his fatal smile he succeeded in hammering a stake
through the heart of the Count's only companion, a female vampire who
was sleeping in the coffin beside him. Because of this Dracula decides
it is only fair that he should claim Harker's fiancee, Lucy Holmwood,
as a replacement and even as Van Helsing arrives at Castle Dracula the
Count's carriage is speeding out through the gates.
When Van Helsing goes to break the bad news of Harker's death to Lucy
he discovers that she is very ill. He only has to check her neck to see
the reason why and does his best to protect her from the Count by
filling her room with garlic. Unfortunately, Lucy is already under
Dracula's spell and persuades her maid to remove the offensive plants.
After Lucy's death her brother Arthur blames Van Helsing for bringing
them bad luck and it is only when he sees his undead sister strolling
through the graveyard that he believes the doctor's story and decides
to help him bring an end to Dracula once and for all.
Horror of Dracula
was Christopher Lee's first Dracula movie. Many more followed and a lot
of people consider him to be the best Dracula to ever plague a person's
nightmares. They may have a point. The sight of Christopher Lee with
blood shot eyes and a vampire smile is a very impressive sight indeed.
The blood around his mouth is less impressive, but when the film was
made (1958) fake blood tended to look more fake than blood, and it is
Dracula's eyes that draw the attention anyway.
The part of Van Helsing is played by Peter Cushing and it is always
good to see any movie where these two great acting talents [Cushing and
Lee] were afforded the chance to work together.
Carol Marsh plays Lucy, and Melissa Stribling is Lucy's sister-in-law,
Mina, and they both make very convincing victims for the Count. The
vampire is a corruptive force and both these girls put on a good show of
being corrupted by Dracula. They are not ignorant of his visits, but
keep them secret, almost as if he were a secret lover, which, in a way
I suppose he is. Then when the Count comes for them their expressions
fluctuate from apprehension to fear, to desire, and somewhere in that
mix an added dash of uncertainty is thrown in for good measure.
Good wins over evil in the end and the Count is
turned to dust. The transformation scene is rather good as
well. It isn't gory or messy, but it has (dare I say it) a charm all of
its own and is fascinating to watch.
... Count Dracula
... Doctor Van Helsing
... Arthur Holmwood
... Mina Holmwood
... Lucy Holmwood
John Van Eyssen
... Jonathan Harker
... Vampire Woman
Charles Lloyd Pack
... Dr. Seward
George Woodbridge ... Landlord
... Frontier Official
& Rental Options~