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Dracula
Dracula1958poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Anthony Hinds
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Bram Stoker (Novel)
Starring Christopher Lee
Peter Cushing
Michael Gough
Melissa Stribling
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography Jack Asher
Studio Hammer Film Productions
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK)
Universal Pictures (USA Theatrical)
Warner Bros. (Home Video)
Release date(s) 8 May 1958 (1958-05-08)
Running time 82 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £81,000

Dracula, also known as Horror of Dracula in the United States, is a 1958 British horror film. It is the first in the series of Hammer Horror films inspired by the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. It was directed by Terence Fisher, and stars Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Carol Marsh, Melissa Stribling and Christopher Lee. In the United States, the film was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the 1931 film Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

Production began at Bray Studios on the 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000.[1]

Plot Edit

In May 1885, 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.

Dracula1958-1

John Van Eyssen as Jonathan Harker.

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 - fangs bared and lips bloody - 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 vampire woman resting 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 bears 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 worsening health, but Lucy defeats his anti-vampire prescription and 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 coffin.

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.

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 they 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 looks on. Mina recovers, the cross-shaped scar fading from her hand as Dracula's ashes blow away and leave only a ring behind.

CastEdit

Special effectsEdit

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.

Zodiac wheel in final sceneEdit

At the end of the movie, Dracula is destroyed on an inlaid Zodiac wheel on the floor, which has several quotes in Latin and Greek. The inner circle in Greek, has a quote from Homer's Odyssey Book 18.136-7: "τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων οἷον ἐπ᾽ ἦμαρ ἄγησι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε" ("The mind of men who live on the earth is such as the day the father of gods and men [Zeus] brings upon them.") The outer wheel is written in Latin, and is a quote from Hesiod via Bartolomeo Anglico (De proprietatibus rerum, Book 8, Chapter 2): "Tellus vero primum siquidem genuit parem sibi coelum stellis ornatum, ut ipsam totam obtegat, utque esset beatis Diis sedes tuta semper." ("And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods.") Dracula's ring is left on the water sign on the Zodiac wheel, which perhaps symbolizes his final rebirth.

ReleaseEdit

Japanese extended releaseEdit

For many years historians have pointed to the fact that an even longer, more explicit, version of the film played in Japanese cinemas in 1958. Efforts to locate the mythical ‘Japanese version’ of Dracula had been fruitless.

In September 2011, Hammer announced that reels 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Japanese release had been found. This includes the last 36 minutes of the film and includes two extended scene, one of which is the discovery of a complete version of the film’s iconic disintegration scene. The announcement mentions a HD telecine transfer of all four reels with a view for a future UK release.[2]

UK re-release controversyEdit

When the film was originally released in the UK, the BBFC gave it an X rating, being cut, while the 2007 uncut re-release was given a 12A.

DVD releaseEdit

The film made its first appearance on DVD in 2002 in the U.S. stand-alone and was later re-released on 6 November 2007 in a film pack along with Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, and Dracula AD 1972; which was part of Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema's "4 Film Favorites" line of DVDs. On September 7th, 2010, Turner Classic Movies released the film in a 4-Pack along with Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, The Curse of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.

ReferencesEdit

  1. *Rigby, Jonathan, (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-01-3. 
  2. http://www.hammerfilms.com/news/article/newsid/314/dracula-resurrected

External linksEdit

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