Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released in the UK on November 7, 1968 and in the US on February 6, 1969
Directed by Freddie Francis
Written by Anthony Hinds
Cast: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Ewing, Barry Andrews, Ewan Hooper, Marion Mathie, Michael Ripper, John D. Collins, George A. Cooper, Christopher Cunningham, Norman Bacon
Dracula has risen from the grave? What, again? Yes, Christopher Lee is back as the dreaded Count Dracula, starring in the third of seven Dracula films he made for Hammer that spanned three decades, beginning with 1958′s Horror of Dracula and wrapping up with The Satanic Rites of Dracula in 1973. This offering’s premise was a simple one: a town is held in the grip of fear by the fabled bloodsucker (who had apparently perished at the end of the previous film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness), until a visiting monsignor performs a ceremony at the door of Castle Dracula, ridding the town of its evil once more…perhaps.
As it turns out, the Count is still hanging around—thanks to an improbable plot device—and hasn’t taken lightly to his home being exorcised; seeking revenge, he goes after the monsignor’s lovely niece. This good idea of a story was hampered by a lack of bone-chilling atmosphere, too many long stretches of time-filler drama, and the missing artistic skills of director Terence Fisher, who had helmed the first three Dracula films for Hammer, but due to illness had to bow out of this production. Unfortunately, he was replaced by Freddie Francis, a former cinematographer whose directorial resume included such low-budget crap as The Deadly Bees and the Joan Crawford schlockfest Trog.
And I think that was where I had a problem: it was not only lacking the quality input of Fisher and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, but the sense of foreboding I felt with Horror of Dracula was nowhere to be found, and the only memorable aspect of the film was its spooky title. And to top it all off, having seen a few other Hammer and American International horror films of the era, I was surprised at how tame the goings-on were here. And why not…there’s not much you can do in the gore, shock, and bare breast departments if you’re carrying a ‘G’ rating, which this film unbelievably was.
So after all that, I’d have to say that this was merely an adequate entry in the series: I was definitely expecting more, and was a tad disappointed with the results. As far as vampire cinema goes, it does its job, and Christopher Lee is always a hoot (or hiss) in the role of Dracula. Oh, and for you girls out there, a bit of helpful advice: if you know for a fact that vampires are loose in your neighborhood, do your freaking necks a favor and keep your freaking bedroom windows closed! (4/10)