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Horror of Dracula [Christopher Lee]

Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing

Synopsis

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing bring the Horror of Dracula to vivid, full-color death in this retelling of Bram Stoker’s tale. Dracula (Lee), a centuries-old Transylvanian nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, regularly finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count’s implacable foe in a deadly game of bat and mouse.

Review

Horror of Dracula begins with Jonathon Harker, working for Count Dracula, as his librarian
Horror of Dracula begins with Jonathon Harker, working for Count Dracula, as his librarian

Horror of Dracula departs from Bram Stoker’s novel in many ways. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It begins with Jonathon Harker going to Transylvania, to work as Count Dracula’s librarian.

One of Dracula's (unnamed) brides, asking Harker for help … and about to feed
One of Dracula’s (unnamed) brides, asking Harker for help … and about to feed

But, there are dangers in the castle besides Dracula himself, as Jonathon soon discovers.

Count Dracula's rather upset by his disobedient bride
Count Dracula’s rather upset by his disobedient bride

Jonathon Harker is “rescued” by the count from the undead bride. And is actually working as a double agent, hoping to put an end to Dracula’s evil once and for all. A plan he’s formed with Doctor Van Helsing.

Dracula is vulnerable while resting during the daytime … but does Harker have the time?
Dracula is vulnerable while resting during the daytime … but does Harker have the time?

A plan, unfortunately, that doesn’t succeed. Harker’s discovered, and bitten by Dracula himself. He’s doomed now to become one of the walking dead … and still tries to destroy Dracula before he’s totally under his control But fails, Eventually, Van Helsing has to put a stake through the corpse of his friend’s heart, to free his eternal spirit. But Dracula is nothing if not vengeful …

Dracula heads to England, where he plans to make Jonathon’s family pay. Including his sister Mina … And this is where the movie really begins. Van Helsing must try to protect Harker’s family, convince Jonathon’s brother-in-law of the seriousness of the situation, and put an end to the undead Count.

Van Helsing confronts Lucy - and saves the little girl
Van Helsing confronts Lucy – and saves the little girl

Cast of characters

  • John Van Eyssen (Quartermass 2) as Jonathan Harker. The doomed hero, whose attempt to destroy Dracula fails early in the movie.
  • Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing, The Curse of Frankenstein). The true hero of the story. A man who, with the help of Jonathon and Arthur, hopes to put an end to the evil of Dracula. Even though he’s horribly outmatched, a the ending demonstrates.
  • Count Dracula (Christopher Lee, Horror Express). A vicious, almost animal-like creature. He brooks no dissent … and has no mercy. A cold-blooded killing machine with the slightest veneer of humanity.
  • Michael Gough (Konga, Batman) as Arthur Holmwood. Jonathon’s brother-in-law. He distrusts Van Helsing at first, and wants only to protect his family. And Van Helsing proves the reality of this horrible situation to him …
  • Melissa Stribling as Mina Holmwood. Jonathon’s sister. And so, the person that Dracula plans to execute his revenge with. By replacing his destroyed bride with Mina.
  • Carol Marsh as Lucy Holmwood. Arthur’s sister, the first victim of Dracula among the family. “Aunt” Lucy nearly lures and kills a young child … until Van Helsing intervenes. In the process, he convinces Arthur of the reality — and danger — of their situation.

Editorial review of Horror of Dracula courtesy of Amazon.com

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Britain’s premier masters of the macabre, bring the Horror of Dracula to vivid, full-color death in this retelling of Bram Stoker’s spellbinding vampire tale. Dracula (Lee), a centuries-old Transylvanian nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, regularly finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count’s implacable foe in a deadly game of bat and mouse. The dread is here – as are the power and pathos of this genre landmark by which Hammer Studios ushered in a new era of screen chills from classic evildoers. Tremble through that era again. Unleash the horror.


Another editorial review, courtesy of Amazon.com

After Hammer Studios’ tremendous success with The Curse of Frankenstein, they struck a deal to adapt Universal’s catalog of classics and set their sights first on Dracula. Christopher Lee removes the monstrous makeup from the earlier film and makes his entrance as an elegant, confident, altogether seductive Dracula, a frightening figure of flashing eyes and erotic allure. Peter Cushing, with his hawklike profile and piercing eyes, turns his rationalist intensity to Van Helsing: man of science as crusading vampire hunter. Director Terence Fisher and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster make a few changes to Bram Stoker’s tale; gone are Renfield, Transylvania, howling wolves, and transformations into bats.

The Count is an old-world aristocrat firmly ensconced in a castle in England and Van Helsing a crusading vampire hunter who plots his demise with an elaborate plan. This is the first film to really mine the erotic appeal of vampires: Dracula seduces Mina and Lucy like a devil tempting good to the dark side through sex–more suggestive than explicit, but daring for 1958. Lee is electric as the ferocious Count, despite his limited screen time, and Cushing turns Van Helsing into a virtual swashbuckler of a hero, leaping and diving through the climax like an aging action hero. Cushing reprises his role in The Brides of Dracula, while Lee absented himself from the series until 1966’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness. –Sean Axmaker

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