Good God I forgot how great this movie is!
Yes, the film that made Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing the horror stars they are today, Horror Of Dracula was the first of a long running series of horror films produced by Hammer Studios in England. To my knowledge the first Dracula movie in color, and it is a sight to behold. While the plot is basic, just a retelling of the Bram Stoker novel, what the film excels in is rich visual appeal with lavish sets and costumes, great acting especially by Peter Cushing, and for a movie that's not even an hour and a half it moves at a great pace. In fact, this movie is one of those films where every scene is crucial, you cannot cut a thing out of this movie because it would hurt the film. Terence Fisher did a great job with this movie, it's gothic sets are incredible to look at, the music is used for dramatic effect which enhances the movie significantly, for a movie from 1959 it holds up because it's more or less a period piece around the late 1800s. I don't know, there's just so much good stuff in this movie. The only bad thing I can say about this movie is it takes place in Germany without a doubt but everyone, and I do mean everyone hails from Britain but honestly that's it. Christopher Lee is a fantastic Dracula and seriously has an imposing presence on the screen, Peter Cushing is by far the best Van Helsing ever potrayed on screen and plays it with sophistication and class, and it shows a lot more than in any vampire movie before. Since it was close to the 60s, censors were less uptight so now there was blood, cleavage, and two very graphic staking scenes. You know how I said before the music was used for dramatic effect? I can pinpoint the exact scene to back up my claim, it's where we see our first stake through the heart. The music builds with tension and horror as you see the open graves of Dracula and his bride, Jonathan Harker prepares to kill them and then the music goes deathly quiet. There's barely a sound, which builds the tension cause you know what he's about to do but it still is done, and it is not quick or quiet when he does so, the only sounds you hear are the hammer smashing the stake into a heart and screaming. It's very hard to watch because it's surprisingly realistic, it's not just one hit and they are dead, it takes multiple strikes and the blood is minimal but highly effective, and it happens not once but twice. For 1959 this was some serious hardcore stuff, and it still kinda is. There's no stunning visuals or ridiculous amounts of gore and blood, hell you barely even see the actual staking but the picture that your mind paints is much more effective than what the screen could ever show you. Horror Of Dracula is the best of the Hammer Dracula movies and should be seen by any horror fan, especially if you have great love and admiration for the classics like I do. Great film, great actors, and there is more to come in the days to follow.