DRACULA (1958)


U.K. • 1958 • COLOUR • 35MM • 82 MIN

Following the success of their first gothic horror film, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Hammer Studios turned to Stoker’s Dracula as the obvious follow up. Although it spawned six sequels, this is by far the best of Hammer’s Dracula series. While still set in period, the tone and the energy of the production make this version feel ‘up-to-date with a vengeance’.

If Bela Lugosi’s Dracula was defined by foreignness, Christopher Lee is familiar and articulate while also bringing a new level of danger and sexual threat to his performance as the Count. His reworking of the character is matched by Peter Cushing’s youthful energy as Van Helsing, playing the vampire hunter as both scientist and action hero. The film’s colour cinematography (by Jack Asher) and graphic display of blood, alongside Hammer’s signature openness with sexuality — as demonstrated in Mina and Lucy’s complicity in Dracula’s nightly visitations — make this a fresh and modern take on Stoker’s novel.

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