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on 10 August 2017
This is a review for Dracula [Blu-ray + DVD].

This is, IMHO, the best interpretation of the Dracula story (the novel is very, very long and somewhat turgid) and my all-time favourite Hammer film - closely followed by Quatermass And The Pit, The Devil Rides Out, The Hound Of The Baskervilles and Dracula Prince Of Darkness.

Apart from some instances of hammy/wooden acting by certain members of the ensemble (I'll leave it for you to discover the culprits!) this film is exemplary. The cast, sets, cinematography (Jack Asher), costumes, music (James Bernard), direction (Terence Fisher), etc., is perfect.

Christopher Lee was born to play this role - he IS Dracula (sorry Lugosi fans). From his haughty demeanour when he greets Harker, to his demonic appearance when he bursts in on Harker (who has just been bitten by Dracula's vampire bride) and, finally, his decaying demise at the end of the film, Lee is absolutely superb.

Peter Cushing is also fantastic as Dr. Van Helsing. In a scene, near the beginning of the film, Van Helsing is almost run down by a coach carrying Dracula's coffin and Cushing gives us an almost imperceptible shudder as if to indicate something supernaturally evil has just passed by.

Melissa Stribling is also outstanding as Mina Holmwood - outwardly straight-laced, but underneath there's a smouldering sensuality!

There is a very creepy scene in which the young daughter of Gerda (a servant in the Holmwood household) is 'called' to the woods by Lucy Holmwood who is the latest victim of Dracula. Tania: "I heard you call me, Aunt Lucy." Lucy (wearing a truly demonic smile): "Yes, dear!".

Many films interpret a vampire's death by sunlight as "burning up", but in this film Dracula's exposure to the sun causes accelerated decomposition until all that remains of his body is dust. The ending to this version of Dracula remains the best ever filmed. The DVD does contain both remastered theatrical (BFI 2002 Restoration) and extended (Hammer 2012 Restoration) versions of the film.

[DVD only] Film ratio is 1.66:1. Audio is DD 2.0 Dual Mono. The remastered picture quality is pretty good for a film that will be 60 years old in 2018. The sound quality is okay, but not great.

Languages: English. Subtitles: English (Hard Of Hearing).

Extras: Audio Commentary With Marcus Hearn And Jonathan Rigby. Documentaries - Dracula Reborn, Resurrecting Dracula, Censoring Dracula, The Demon Lover, The World Of Hammer: Dracula And The Undead. All Four Surviving 'Japanese Reels' (6-9) Unrestored. Janina Faye Reads Stoker At The Vault Festival. Stills Gallery Of Over 100 Fully-Restored And Rare Images. Booklet By Hammer Archivist Robert J. E. Simpson (PDF - DVD Only). Original Shooting Script (PDF - DVD Only).

This film truly deserves the accolade "classic". So, Hammer, fangs for the memories! :-)
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on 23 November 2017
SHORT REVIEW

While many may claim that Bela Lugosi (DRACULA, 1931) or even Max Schreck (NOSFERATU, 1922) might be the best Dracula impersonators /movies, to me that honor goes to Hammer Studio's 1958 adaptation of Bram Stoker's famous novel and one of the best actors ever, Christopher Lee, and equally impressive, Peter Cushing as his nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing.
While DRACULA (1931) and NOSFERATU stand out as legendary adaptations as well - and rightfully so - I prefer the Hammer Studio's Dracula versions, DRACULA (aka HORROR OF DRACULA), PRINCE OF DARKNESS, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA and SCARS OF DRACULA simply for Lee's performance and the unsettling atmosphere.
When it comes to vampire movies there isn't really a variety of good movies. There's the very overrated BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992) and the equally overrated INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1994), which are both good but nowhere near as great as the afore mentioned masterpieces.
This 2013 release from Lionsgate UK is the ultimate version to get, as it features the theatrical version of the film and a restored alternate version, which was previously lost, along with a lot of interesting bonus material.
DRACULA is not only a milestone in the genre, but also in British movie history, and therefore I can only highly recommend this edition.
Region B LOCKED. DVD is Region 2 (PAL) locked.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 March 2014
Hammer's groundbreaking 1958 version of Dracula (aka Horror of Dracula) is still one of the very best despite the many liberties Jimmy Sangster's concise and highly effective script takes with Bram Stoker's novel to whittle it down to an hour-and-a-half. It's not just the names that have been changed around and the cast of characters greatly reduced to Hammer's budget levels (admirably disguised here by Bernard Robinson's excellent production design). John Van Eyssen's Jonathan Harker is no longer a lawyer, but here is posing as a librarian to get into Dracula's castle with an ulterior motive - presumably on the grounds that the audience knows going in just what Dracula is so there's no point putting the hero through all that mystery when there's staking to be done. The budget doesn't stretch to the voyage and arrival of the ghost ship Demeter or even a Renfield for that matter, and this Dracula has no social interaction with his intended victims in Whitby or London - in fact, he never even leaves the continent. Nor is the vampire fascinated with Harker's intended - here he simply seeks her out as revenge. Yet the changes work surprisingly well, and even throws in a few good twists like the location of Dracula's hiding place.

Although he doesn't have much screen time, Christopher Lee is inspired casting, a feral, vicious creature rather than a Eurotrash smoothie while a very agile Peter Cushing makes a surprisingly physical Van Helsing, the final fight between the good doctor and the evil count surprisingly energetic and violent before the best of the studio's ashes to ashes, dust-to-dust finales. Although rather sedate by today's standards, this film still has a surprising degree of energy and it's easy to see why it made had such a profound impact on the horror genre for decades to come. The first colour version of the tale, it made a big selling point of being able to see the blood in all its vivid hues of red, although it also makes much play on the vampire's female victims being absolutely gagging for it (perhaps not so surprising with Peter Cushing and Michael Gough as the male leads), setting the groundwork for the tits'n'fangs formula that would become the studio's bread and butter over the next couple of decades. A surprisingly cheap picture, thanks to Bernard Robinson's elegant production design and fine direction from Terence Fisher before the drink got to him, it never looks cheap: if anything, it's rather seductively good looking.

Where Warners' widescreen DVD was overcropped at 1.85:1, Lionsgate's Region B-locked Blu-ray and DVD combo restores it to its original 1.66:1 ratio as well as restoring the original title Dracula (the previous release used the US title Horror of Dracula). But of more interest is that the disc includes two separate cuts of the film - .the 2007 BFI restoration and a 2012 restoration by Hammer that includes footage censored from the film everywhere but Japan. It's worth noting that its only a few seconds worth - Dracula's seduction of Mina is a bit longer and the long-rumoured shot of a decaying Dracula clawing at his own face as the skin peels off - but completists will be delighted. As for the restored picture quality, the first reel is a little disappointingly cold (in one of the accompanying documentaries they talk about not going all-out to reproduce the original Eastmancolor tones, which seems a little perverse in a film famous for its Eastmancolor tones), and the definition occasionally gives away just how much use the original negative has had over the years, but once it gets going it's a very pleasing job.

There's a fine extras package included on both formats: audio commentary by Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby, making of documentary Dracula Reborn (though Christopher Lee is notable by his absence), featurettes Resurrecting Dracula, Censoring Dracula, The Demon Lover – Christopher Frayling on Dracula and Janina Faye Reads Stoker at the Vault Festival, very worn unrestored versions of Japanese reels 6-9 (complete with Japanese subtitles on the side of the screen), episode of clip show The World of Hammer – Dracula and the Undead, stills gallery and (on the DVD only) PDF script and booklet. The only conspicuous absence (apart from Mr. Lee) is the film's trailer, which was included on Warners' DVD but is curiously missing here.
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on 30 June 2017
I bought this for the Special Features (and the most complete version of 1958's "Dracula") which are the jewel of this release. Any attempt to review the movie would be futile - what could I say that hasn't already been said? - because even after 60 years it still speaks for itself. This is the original Hammer Films, Cushing and Lee at their best and the fact it's been preserved as a prime example of post-War British filmmaking is frankly all the recommendation you need to see it / buy it. Enjoy.
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on 20 September 2015
At last, a quality British release of this quality British horror!

Do I need to say how good this film is? The positives far out weigh the negatives in this release but, there are some things I'd like to point out.

This BD/DVD combo is pretty good stuff. I got a bit muddled as to what version I was accessing on the BluRay, as both versions have a BFI Restoration notice at the very beginning, when I was expecting one to say Hammer Restoration. So to clarify the actual BFI 2007 version has the Universal Pictures logo at the start and the Hammer Restoration does not.

I'm sure we all would like to think we know Stokers Dracula story. But, like almost every adaptation, this version is merely inspired by his book, more Jimmy Sangsters Dracula than Stokers. The main similarity between Lee's Dracula and this, is that the count tends to spend about the same time in the both story's, i.e. not often. I am also not sure if it was my eyes, but the first act, with Jonathan Harker and Dracula, looks rather average in quality but, the rest of the film scrubs up pretty well. I did find the occasional couple of hammy comedy moments a bit of a wired blend. Never really took noticed before, but it could do without the bad comedy scenes if I'm honest.

The BFI's colourist was happy to make the tones of this movie 'more natural' (and rather blue'ish) than they would have been in 1958. Eastman has, as did Hammers films, a reputation for its vivid colours. I actually find that some BluRay restorations can have very unnatural gaudy colours which irks me at times, but, if the original film had vivid colour then restore it as it was intended please! Or at least make the 2013 Hammer restoration match that of 1958 original.

Packed with great bonus features, the newly made documentary's must have cost a bit. Maybe I'm being greedy but there are only 3 things this disc set seems to lack. Firstly, the presents of the late great Christopher Lee being interviewed or adding to the commentary which should have been essential, but maybe he just didn't want to get involved or he was too costly? Secondly, the movie trailers. Are they lost? There is one on the older Horror of Dracula, Warner Bros. DVD, for the US version of the film, but I'm not sure if its totally original? It seems to have genuine cut footage and voice over but, the typesetting looks so new and fresh and says a Warner Bros. Film, when it's obvious from the BFI 2007 restoration, which uses the American print with restored UK title, that it was released by Universal Pictures, in America, back in the day, so I'm not sure? ... Ah, I just found the original US trailer on Youtube, and yeah it's Universal, so Warner have faked the one on the DVD somewhat! There is also a 2007 BFI trailer which could have been used too. And finally, on the DVD only, along with the original production script, a PDF file of a nicely coloured booklet, by archivist Robert Simpson. Just a shame it was not actually in printed form and slotted into inside of the BluRay case.

BTW, I have always thought the original UK poster for this film was cool, so, good to see it splashed across the DVD case. The menu, however, done in the same style, looks like a 16 year old has done it!

I didn't want to make this sound like I'm complaining, just would have been a very thorough package had it had a few more things added to it, but, hey. It is still a great set!
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on 15 February 2018
I remember watching this on TV in the early 70's on a Friday night. The feature was called "Don't Watch Alone" and regularly showed Hammer films. I was so impressed with this film back then (I was about 10), and I still am today. The picture quality is just fantastic on blu-ray.
Spoiler Alert: The closing scenes where Dracula turns to dust and blows away is one of the best special effects I have ever seen, I never get tired watching it. And no CGI back in 1958!
Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Hammer Films, it doesn't get any better than this.
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on 21 August 2015
The first of the franchise! I saw Dracula Prince of Darkness before this one. All I can say is that for such a small film to make such a large impact on the movies speaks for itself,
The film does everything right and holds up even today. Lee and Cushing were and are two of the finest actors to grace the screen whether together or separate the talent shows.
.The blue is good when notating the age of the film source. The film itself is a must see movie buffs delight. The commentary was use ful and informative great extras. It just doesn't get better than this.
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on 30 August 2013
The first Gothic horror I saw in the cinema, a pre-general release print in 1958, and for shock value, atmosphere, pace, music, set design and real excitement, still the best. Cushing's performance, methodical calm punctuated by bursts of frantic and athletic activity, is the highlight of his movie career (he came to Hammer after much experience in television, where in the early 50s he was one of the BBC's leading actors) and Lee's performance is shockingly powerful, the civilised host turning into a bloodthirsty animal, much more so than any of his subsequent appearances in the role. A highlight of post-war British cinema, admirably, intelligently and lucidly described in one of the extras by Sir Christopher Frayling. Other extras include details of the restoration, and the recently discovered footage from Japan, now incorporated into one of the two restorations on these discs, and amply illustrating the difficulties of the restorers' task. A glance at the packaging suggests a booklet, but alas the small print indicates that this is with PDF-DVD only. A very great pity.
This "new", albeit very brief, footage has been one of the main selling points for this 3 disc set, and the implication is that the film is now finally complete. It will probably not become any more complete, but only the final reels were found in Japan, the rest having gone in a fire, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that other material from earlier scenes in the film, not included in the final British release print, might have once existed. I have always remembered, from my original pre-general release viewing, the scene of the vampire woman's staking, shown in shadow.Here we cut away from the silhouette as soon as the first blow is struck, but I remember seeing, still I think in silhouette, a shower of blood spout up as soon as that blow is delivered, then the cutaway. For many years I wondered why I had never seen it again, until I heard of the stronger version for Japan.
The colour work on the restorations is immaculate, and the prints well illuminated.
Two moments of horror which generally go unmentioned. 1 When the vampire woman is thrown to the floor by the count after trying to vampirise Harker, we see her snarl viciously at the camera: at first it seems she is snarling at the count in frustrated anger, but following the eyelines in the next shot, it is clear her venom is directed at Harker--all she is concerned about is drinking his blood. 2 When, back at his castle, the count is interrupted in his attempt to bury a screaming Mina, although we aren't shown the soil landing, his final shovelful is clearly directed at her screaming face, the most contemptuous of throw-away gestures!
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on 20 February 2015
Definitive version of Dracula in sound & picture quality. The restorations are superb as is the presentation providing 2 different versions, 1 being the 2007 BFI restoration and the Hammer 2012 restoration which for some reason wanted nothing to do with Technicolor and opted for the Eastman color process which is sad since the Technicolor is noticeably more vibrant and superior to Eastman even tho Technicolor did the processing for Dracula. This is still the best release ever to home entertainment no matter the medium and you will be quite pleased with the hard work that went into the final product.. Excellent!
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on 17 October 2015
You would have to bleed me dry to stop me from seeing (for the umpteenth time) a Dracula movie with the late Sir Christopher in the lead role. Prompt delivery and now teeth-chattering horror at its, albeit ageing best. Why are we so fond of Dracula, the embodiment of all evil? Perhaps as contrition for our own sins - like illicit sex and other naughty things we get up to in real life, and a gentle reminder that most horrible events are of foreign origin. The late Bram Stoker and Sir Christopher will reign long as the Masters of Horror to remind us of these sins.
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