Horror of Dracula (1958)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

“It only remains for me now to await the daylight hours, where I will with God’s help forever end this man’s reign of terror!”

A vampire hunter (John Van Eyssen) posing as a librarian arrives at the castle of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee), where he puts one of Dracula’s victims (Valerie Gaunt) out of her misery, but is bitten himself before he can kill Dracula. When Dracula invades the household of Van Eyssen’s girlfriend Lucy (Carol Marsh) and Lucy’s brother (Michael Gough) and sister-in-law (Melissa Stribling), Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) arrives to help.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Christopher Lee Films
  • Horror
  • Peter Cushing Films
  • Vampires

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that while “Hammer Studios’ follow-up to The Curse of Frankenstein is a much better and more influential horror film”, it “isn’t the definitive adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel or much more than an introduction to the bloody-red and sexually oriented style of future Hammer vampire films”. He complains the “film is so rushed that we have a hard time realizing that major parts of Stoker’s story are being either distorted or eliminated“, that “all the performances” (other than the two leads) “are forgettable”, and that Cushing is “a little too humorless, as if his blood had already been drained”.

In favor of the film, Peary writes that the “graphic violence… fits the subject rather than being exploitative”, that the production in general is “well-mounted”, and that “Lee’s madly inspired vampire is terrific: cruel, energetic, intelligent, tall and imposing”.

Peary also points out how the film differs from “Universal’s 1931 Dracula chiefly in that it conveys the sexual nature of vampirism: not only does the vampire become excited when he bites into a victim’s jugular but his victims also relish the experience”. Indeed, according to DVD Savant, this film “made much more explicit the seduction-rape fantasy that underlies vampire mythology.” Savant is much more a diehard fan of this film, referring to it as “the Singin’ in the Rain of horror films — a show that transcends its genre and sums up what’s great about screen terror.” His praise feels hyperbolic to me, but provides evidence of the film’s cult following. Personally, my opinion lies closer to Peary’s: this remains a reasonably enjoyable, historically significant genre flick, but not must-see viewing.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Christopher Lee as Dracula — only on the screen for 7 minutes, but a menacing presence
  • Jack Asher’s atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s certainly worth a look for its historical importance.

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


2 thoughts on “Horror of Dracula (1958)

  1. Not must-see.

    ‘HOD’ has a somewhat-exciting first 20 minutes involving the Harker character’s attempt to finish Dracula off. From there, things slow down quite a bit (sometimes to more of a crawl) as the script establishes a familiar build along the lines of Dracula lore. Seasoned horror fans may find all of this less than engaging.

    The film is nicely produced in the classic Hammer style – and Lee (yes, all 7 minutes of him) is a striking presence – but this is an 81-minute movie which, alas, feels longer (and that’s unfortunate).

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    One of THE classic post-WWII horror films and together with The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) put Hammer on the map.

    The best Dracula film bar none and definitely a must see for it’s place in horror film history. A classic.

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