Thirty years of horror: Horror of Dracula (1958)

Chris: The second film in our tour was fairly disappointing. Despite using the same production crew and lead actors as Curse Of Frankenstein, Hammer’s take on the legendary vampire hasn’t aged nearly as well.

After the jump, dead and hating it

Tom: Ugh, this is exactly why I’m not very well versed in Hammer films. I’m worried they’re all going to be like this: slow, ridiculously overacted, and bad enough to make me think those Twilight movies can’t be any worse than this, can they?

Chris: Lee is positively wooden (pardon the pun) as the title character, and Cushing makes a far less-interesting good guy here than bad guy in the previous film. I was rather tickled by a callback Cushing does in the film, nodding to his previous role as Frankenstein. There’s a bit here when Van Helsing has to stake Mina after she’s turned into a vampire minion of Dracula. In so doing, the blood that pools up around the stake gets all over his hand…which he fastidiously wipes down with his handkerchief, in obvious counterpoint to the ruthless carelessness of Dr. Frankenstein cleaning his bloody fingers on his lapels.

Tom: Are the 50s over yet? I can’t take much more of these grampa movies.

Chris: Horror Of Dracula isn’t particularly scary, nor is it particularly interesting. Stoker’s original book can be overwrought, but there’s definitely a gothic spooky feeling to it that would seem to lend itself to a faithful adaptation for the screen. It’s curious then that we haven’t had a particularly strong adaptation of the book since the original Nosferatu.

Tom: Actual Stoker adaptations are difficult because the book is an epistolary mystery that’s had all the mystery wrung out of it for a hundred years. You have to tweak it somehow, by maybe having nekkid ladies in bed with Keanu Reeves and Gary Oldman in crazy make-up gnawing the scenery. Or better yet, reinvent the mystery and give us something like Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In or even Neil Jordan’s Byzantium.

(So what’s this “thirty years of horror” thing?)