You can Count on Dracula
Having arrived at Castle Dracula to take up a position as librarian Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) soon discovers things are strange, very strange and on his first night is attacked by a woman in white (Valerie Gaunt) who goes to seek her fanged teeth into his neck only for Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) to come to his rescue. But it is too late and Jonathan is infected and so starts a chain of events and deaths as Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) goes in search of Harker only to discover that Dracula has entered the nearby town and is looking for a new bride.
I will lay my cards on the table and say that vampires and Dracula have not been a great love of mine which might be down to a black and white vampire movie I caught a few minutes of as a young child which genuinely scared me, not that I know what that movie was. As such I have had the 1958 Hammer Horror "Dracula" for a while but not felt any urgency to watch it. But having done so I am pleased to say it is a remarkably entertaining movie which works even for those with no real knowledge of the Dracula legend.
Now the thing I like about this version of "Dracula" is that it skips along at a pace and so we are never a few minutes from a moment of drama or action. For example Harker arrives at the castle, notes the strangeness and quietness then that night has a run in with the Bride of Dracula. Maybe for those who know the story of Dracula the parts which have been left out and changed may disappoint but it certainly stops this version from feeling slow and stuffy.
The other thing which really helps "Dracula" is the look and we have some wonderful sets from the gothic horror of the castle to the tightness of the town's tavern where strings of garlic hang from the ceiling. Add to that impressive costumes and nice camera work and "Dracula" whilst having the film quality of a 1950s movie still has enough visual detail to make it a delight on the eyes which keeps you busy taking it all in.
Of course there is the acting with Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing both of which deliver great performances. But it is a team effort with Michael Gough delivering just as good a performance as Harker's doubting brother in law to the attractive Melissa Stribling coming across as risky. It is because every single actor plays their part that "Dracula" still impresses.
What this all boils down to is that "Dracula" is held in high esteem and after you watch it is easy to see why. Visually beautiful, well acted, moves along at a clip whilst punctuated by brief but impressive moments of action which whilst respectively old fashioned work well.
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