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
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Top Customer Reviews
It may not be totally loyal to the book, but films do not translate easily from novels, and I think this version was translated extremely well. The film isn't as scary as it was once considered, but that is a small downward factor. If you want to watch a good version of Dracula, I think you'd be hard pressed to beat this.
Terence Fisher (the best Hammer director) directs with style and James Bernard produced a score that would be used in variations by many Hammer films over the years. For any musicians out there the chord Bernard uses to signal Dracula's presence is an augmented chord...
Christopher Lee is magnificent as Count Dracula. Bela Lugosi may have starred in the role first but Lee is vastly superior in every respect: He has more screen presence (helped by being 6' 5"), is better looking and most crucially unlike Lugosi he can act.
As Van Helsing Peter Cushing is mesmerising. Whether he is carrying out a blood transfusion or dictating into an early phonograph recorder, the script is delivered with absolute conviction. I always end up believing vampires exist after watching this film!
The ending to this film is perhaps the single greatest moment in the entire history of Hammer films. While the special effects look dated now the realisation of the ending is just a great piece of film making.
the perfect example on how to make a successful film on a low budget. daring for the time; more sexual references, violence etc. all done quite tastefully though. peter cushing and christopher lee lead the way in a film full of atmosphere, great acting, a good script, some great highlights along the way but a simply outstanding climax.
for those who may not know, christopher lee's screen time is actually quite limited after the opening 20 minutes or so. he just pops up now and then without saying anything. the character of renfield is completely ignored as well, but these are mere quibbles.
peter cushing proves what a fantastic dramatic actor he is, and easily gives the best interpretion of van helsing. christopher lee's dracula is quite good, but not the best i have to say. in fairness, i haven't seen the perfect on- screen dracula yet.
this is hammer during its best period and would remain so until about the mid-60s.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first saw this in about 1970, on BBC2, on an old black and white TV which was about 10 inches square and made everybody look like short fat cubes. Read morePublished on 24 Feb. 2003 by William Meikle
The greatest Hammer Horror ever and the best performances Cushing/Lee portrayed on screen as Van Helsing and the legendary Dracula excellent effects 2 excellent actors a great... Read morePublished on 7 Mar. 2001
This film is the absolute best of all the Dracula films and all of the hammer films ever to be made. The performance by Christopher Lee is amazing. Read morePublished on 1 Jan. 2001 by firstname.lastname@example.org