Halloween Marathon #3: The Horror of Dracula
Premise: S’Dracula. He dresses in black and drinks people. Y’all should know this by now.
Yup, I decided that the best way to finish the Halloween month off was with a classic horror movie adapting a classic horror story from a classic horror movie company (Hammer Horror), starring a classic horror actor (the late great Christopher Lee). And I’m glad I did, because this movie was great fun.
Ostensibly, this movie at first seems like a fairly basic adaptation of the original Dracula novel by Bram Stoker, but it quickly goes off on its own path, with unexpected twists and changes that really work to simplify and adapt the book for the film screen, while also working to differentiate it from the infamous Bela Lugosi Dracula movie (which is also great). And this reflects in the portrayal of the titular character himself. Where Lugosi’s Dracula was offsettlingly foreign in his speech and mannerisms, Lee’s Dracula is more a dark, intimidating shadowy gentleman who immediate sweeps in and steals the room by sheer force of presence. If you twist my arm, I’d say I prefer Lugosi’s Dracula just slightly, but the fact that Lee is even in the same conversation just tells you how good he is.
However, as good as Lee was, Peter Cushing was every bit as good as the infamous Van Helsing and met Lee beat for beat. This movie shifts Van Helsing to more of a protagonist role than the original novel, something I’m occasionally mixed on when it comes to other movies, but I think works great here in combination with the other twists and turns involved. And Cushing is great as Van Helsing. Dignified, competent, capable of being both badass and sweet and friendly when the situation calls for it. Honestly, I think he’s possibly my favourite Van Helsing.
Credit also has to go to the set designs and colour grading, both of which give all the various settings a distinct feeling of identity while, once again, making them feel seperate from the Lugosi Dracula. It has that unmistakable 60’s look to it, that I felt really worked here. And a lot of the special effects look great even to this day, especially Dracula’s eventual death.
In conclusion, this was a lot of fun and a great way to finish off this Horror movie marathon. And I’ve had a lot of fun doing this. I’ve watched a lot of varied movies, most of which I at least liked and some of which I downright loved. Plus there were plenty of great surprises and scares to be found. I’ll have to think about doing this again next year some time. Hopefully without the long accidental hiatus’s.
Was is Scary?: Not too much, but Lee is fantastically unsettling in the role
Was it Silly?: Once again, not really. (Man, not so much in the way of silliness in this marathon, is there?)
Overall Grade: A