Starting the month with a classic. This is a solid, surprising, and startling film that started a new wave of horror movies.
In the 1931 Universal Studios inspired a wave of scary movies starting with Dracula and Frankenstein. These brilliant horror films created iconography that lasts to this day. However these films were hampered by censorship and the production code meaning most of the horror had to be implied.
In 1958 British production company Hammer Films produced a remake of one of Universals most popular and enduring titles, Dracula.
Hammer had become well known at this point for its use of violence and blood that the earlier Universal had been forced to shy away from. This version of Dracula is no exception. The blood is bright and vivid. The film was shot in brilliant technicolor which creates a surreal beauty to even the most horrifying scenes.
The story is familiar yet carries a few surprises. Johnathan Harker arrives at the castle of Count Dracula. He is greater by a tall lithe and sexy Dracula played by Christopher Lee. He is imposing, yet approachable. He is charming, yet he is clearly dangerous. Christopher Lee is brilliant. After Dracula seeks out Harker’s fiancé and he tangles with Van Helsing played perfectly by Peter Cushing.
The movie perfectly evokes a Halloween feel. It has atmospheric castles, long country roads strewn with dead leaves. It has crypts and nighttime attacks. The best sequences are when Dracula first reveals his true nature. It is shocking and startling especially compared to the sophisticated gentleman he has been in the film until that point. The final scene is also wonderfully horrifying in which the destruction of a vampire is show. With glorious and visceral practical special effects.
While the film was made its blood was shocking. Today it’s pretty tame. This is very easy horror viewing for people who don’t like horror movies or for those who get squeamish with the more intense scary movies.
It’s definitely worth watching and will definitely get you into the Halloween spirit. Definitely my cup of tea. A