Monday, November 2, 2009

Horror of Dracula (1958)

Dracula is a 1958 British horror film, and the first of a
series of Hammer Horror films inspired by the Bram
Stoker novel Dracula. It was directed by Terence Fisher,
and stars Peter Cushing, John Van Eyssen and Christopher
Lee. In the United States, the film was retitled Horror of
Dracula to avoid confusion with the Tod Browning-directed
Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi.

Production began at Bray Studios on the 17 November 1957
with an investment of £81,000.


Jonathan Harker arrives at the castle of Count Dracula near
Klausenberg, posing as a librarian. He is startled inside the
castle by a young woman begging for help, claiming to be a
prisoner. Dracula then greets Harker and guides him to his
room, where he locks him in. Jonathan starts to write in his
diary, and his true intentions are revealed: he has come to
kill Dracula.

Freed sometime later, Harker again is confronted by the
desperate woman. She begs him for help but then bites his
neck. Just as she does, Dracula arrives and yanks her away.
When he awakens in daylight, Harker finds the bite mark.

He hides his journal in a Virgin Mary grotto outside the
castle and descends into the crypts, where he finds Dracula
and the unnamed woman in their coffins. Armed with a stake,
he impales the woman. But when he turns to kill Dracula, the
count has already awakened and is waiting for him.

Dr. Van Helsing then arrives in Klausenberg, looking for Harker.
The frightened townsfolk give him Harker's journal. When he
arrives at the castle, it is deserted; a hearse carriage speeds by
with a coffin in it. In the crypt, Van Helsing is horrified to
discover Harker lying in a coffin as a vampire. Staking Harker,
he leaves to deliver the veiled news of Harker's death in person
to a wary Arthur Holmwood and his wife Mina, brother and
sister-in-law of Harker's fiancée Lucy Holmwood. Lucy is ill,
so the news is kept from her. But, when night falls, Lucy opens
the doors to her terrace and lays bare her neck — already, it
bares the mark of a vampire bite. And soon Dracula arrives
and bites her again.

Mina seeks out Van Helsing's aid in treating Lucy's worsened
health, but Lucy defeats his anti-vampire prescription, and
Lucy dies. Van Helsing turns over Harker's journal and reveals
the truth. Vampire Lucy lures away a young niece, but the girl
is saved by Van Helsing and Arthur. Arthur refuses to use Lucy
as a means to find Dracula, so Van Helsing stakes Lucy in her

Van Helsing and Arthur travel to the customs house in Ingstadt
to track down the destination of Dracula's coffin (which Van
Helsing saw carried away when he arrived at Dracula's castle).

Meanwhile, Mina is called away from home by a message telling
her to meet Arthur at an address in Karlstadt — the same
address Arthur and Van Helsing are told the coffin was bound
for — and Dracula is indeed waiting for her.

The next morning, Arthur and Van Helsing find Mina in a strange
state. They leave for the address they were given, an undertaker's,
but find the coffin missing. When the decide to set off again,
Arthur tries to give Mina a cross to wear, but it burns her.

During the night, Van Helsing and Arthur guard Mina's windows
outside against a return of Dracula, but Dracula nonetheless
appears inside the house and bites her. A remark by the maid
leads Van Helsing to the coffin's location: the cellar of the
Holmwoods' own house. But Dracula is not in the coffin and
instead escapes into the night with Mina.

A chase then begins as Dracula rushes to return to his castle
near Klausenberg before sunrise. He attempts to bury Mina
alive outside the crypts but is caught by Van Helsing and Arthur.

Inside the castle, Van Helsing and Dracula struggle. Van Helsing
tears open the curtain to let in the sunlight and, forming a cross
of candlesticks, he forces Dracula into it. Dracula crumbles into
dust as Van Helsing watches in horror. Mina recovers, the
cross-shaped scar fading from her hand as Dracula's ashes
blow away and leave only a ring behind.


-Peter Cushing-Doctor Van Helsing
-Christopher Lee-Count Dracula
-Michael Gough-Arthur
-Melissa Stribling-Mina
-Carol Marsh-Lucy
-Olga Dickie-Gerda
-John Van Eyssen-Jonathan
-Valerie Gaunt-Vampire Woman
-Janina Faye-Tania (as Janine Faye)
-Barbara Archer-Inga
-Charles Lloyd Pack-Doctor Seward
-George Merritt-Policeman
-George Woodbridge-Landlord
-George Benson-Official
-Miles Malleson-Undertaker


*Screenplay and its Differences from the Novel:

This film adaptation made several deviations from the original
novel and 1931 film, and drew inspiration from the stageplay.

The location of the Count's castle at Klausenburg is only a short
distance (and customs checkpoint) from the city inhabited by the
Holmwood family, which appears to be in Germany. The sea
voyage from Transylvania to England does not appear in the film
and consequently Dracula never takes up residence in his English
home, Carfax Abbey neighboring an insane asylum.

Jonathan Harker is a librarian and vampire hunter, having come to
Dracula's castle to destroy him, rather than an unwitting solicitor.
He also becomes a vampire and is dispatched by his friend Van

-Mina is Arthur Holmwood's wife, while Lucy is his sister and
Jonathan's fiancée.

-The characters of R. M. Renfield and Quincey Morris are omitted.

-Doctor John Seward only appears twice, in two brief scenes as the
family doctor, and is completely unaware of the supernatural

-Count Dracula has only one Bride (there are three in the novel), and
she is destroyed by Jonathan Harker, not Van Helsing. She ages upon
her true "death".

-Only one coffin is transported to the city.

-Count Dracula does not grow younger, nor can he shapeshift.

-The Count has not mastered the art of magic.

-Count Dracula is destroyed by sunlight, whereas his powers are
merely limited by daylight in the novel.

*Special effects:

The filming of Dracula's destruction included a shot in which Dracula
appears to peel away his decaying skin. This was accomplished by
putting a layer of red makeup on Christopher Lee's face, and then
covering his entire face with a thin coating of mortician's wax, which
was then made up to conform to his normal skin tone. When he raked
his fingers across the wax, it revealed the "raw" marks underneath.

Still photos of this startling shot exist, but it was cut out of the
disintegration sequence in the film.

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