Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1958 - HORROR OF DRACULA, Hammer's epic retelling of the Dracula myth with a cast of 10 maybe 13 people tops.

Hammer studios continued to remake the classic horror films that Universal studios had such good luck with during the late 1950's and early 60's.  After Curse of Frankenstein, Hammer  brought out their version of Dracula.  This was a seriously scaled down version of Dracula  with the screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and the director Terence Fisher making some big changes to the original Bram Stroker story.

This downsizing may have been for the better, even by the late 50's, the Dracula legend been really beaten to death in film.  There does seem to be a continued fascination with Count Dracula the undead creature running around sucking the blood out of women and being defeated by the ultimate symbol in Christian culture, the Cross, etc.

Zipping along at top speed, the focus is on Peter Cushing's Dr. Van Helsing.   Cushing is no ancient academic but almost an occult James Bond character racing around the countryside chasing the undead.  Cushing always contributed a lot to any film he was in, he was a major supporting character in the first Star Wars film.

Christopher Lee played Dracula so much he finally got sick of the role and refused to even discuss it in interviews but there is no denying that he is very good in the part.  Besides, it takes a lot of screen presence to not look stupid running around in a cape.

Hammer Studios was always the low budget British production company.  The weren't about to sink a ton of money into yet another version of the Dracula story.  Probably by necessity Sangster and Fisher had to streamline the story to fit with the film's modest budget.  Coming in around 80 fast paced minutes this is a very modest but enjoyable film.

Another good example of a small studio employing talented people to freshen up an over exposed property.

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