Classic Hammer horror starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) journeys to Castle Dracula, where he is turned into one of the undead by the famous vampire (Lee). Professor Van Helsing (Cushing) arrives and drives a stake through Harker's heart, but must then pursue Dracula to London, where the Count intends to make Harker's fiancée Lucy Holmwood his bride. Lee and Cushing went on to make several more 'Dracula' films for Hammer.
This is the first (it dates from 1957) of the many films which were to identify Christopher Lee with Bram Stoker's undead anti-hero and, in many ways, it remains the best. Tied reasonably closely to that of Stoker's novel, the plot sees the English academic Jonathan Harker (Van Eyssen) entering the employ of Dracula, secretly aware that the nobleman is a vampire and with every intention of destroying him. Sadly, it doesn't work out and Harker, in one of the film's several gentle structural conceits, becomes Dracula's servant in more senses than one, prompting one Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing, of course) to investigate his disappearance. The rest, of course, is a slightly wobbly version of history. This is the only film of the series to retain its roots in theatrical melodrama--the clipped, "ack-torly" exchanges between Lee and Van Eyssen are a joy--but it remains gripping in spite, or because of that. Best of all, it allows Lee to present Dracula as a real character--a haunted, tragic figure, impatient with the mortal world and its trivia--before camp tomfoolery, likeable enough in its own way, came to dominate the series. --Roger Thomas