The poster child for pre-Exorcist modern horror, Hammer’s thrilling and unapologetically blood-stained adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel made bona fide movie stars out of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. And, fifty years after the fact, Horror of Dracula remains a tent pole of the horror genre. Director Terence Fisher and cinematographer Jack Asher use the lush palate of Technicolor to create the first romantic and fully seductive vampire film. Not since the heyday of the Universal monster rallies had a nightmare-scape seemed so palpably alive, and able to infect the waking world. Lee brings to his undying Count all of the “wrath and fury” that Jonathan Harker wrote home about. “This is better than Citizen Kane,” somebody once said. “And it’s in color.” Technicolor, to be precise.
Dir. Terence Fisher, 1958, 35mm, 82 min.
The true superstars of Hammer horror -- director Terence Fisher and DP Jack Asher -- are back in action for this first sequel to the taboo shattering The Curse of Frankenstein. Tossing Mary Shelley right out the window, Hammer advertised the entirely original creation as “the World’s Greatest Horrorama” in “Supernatural Technicolor.” While British critics declared it “a crude sort of entertainment for a crude sort of audience,” your mileage may vary. Peter Cushing is in top form as the indefatigable Baron F, but the one to watch is Michael Gwynne as Frankenstein’s Monster, a devilishly handsome sod who passed through society’s meat-grinder to become a slobbering hunchback with a ravening hunger for human flesh. Hammer’s crowning glory is its “Frankenstein” series, of which this entry is one of the best.
Dir. Terence Fisher, 1958, 35mm, 89 min.