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Halloween Request: Dracula (1958)

I asked some of my readers on social media what I should review for Halloween because I’m creatively bankrupt at the moment. To my surprise most of the responses were to review old school horror movies, long before the idea of my personal favourite horror movies were even conceived. Not that I’m complaining because it gives me an opportunity to look at some more classic cinema that rarely gets a spotlight on this site.

One request I got was to review Dracula! I didn’t think it would be right to ask which version of Dracula because there are so many interpretations of Dracula out there, from the almost 100 year old Nosferatu, all the way to that most recent Dracula series on Netflix. For this post, to stay close to the timeline of the other movies that have been requested, I chose the 1958 film, Dracula, or Horror of Dracula in certain parts of the world so you don’t get confused with the 1931 Dracula. Did I mention already there are numerous Dracula movies out there?

In this version of Dracula, a man by the name of Jonathan Harker visits a castle that looks like an abstract movie set, and which houses the upper-class gentlemen Count Dracula. Some bad things happen as it turns out Dracula is pure evil and likes to bite the necks of innocent clueless women. So it’s up to Harker’s friend, Dr Van Helsing, to stop the undead blood thirsty lunatic from striking again. That’s the summed-up plot of this 1 hour and 21 minute movie. Nothing too crazy, most of the movie is watching a middle-aged British man talk about wanting to kill Dracula and then he somehow fails miserably and then has to pay the consequences of his own stupidity. Rinse and repeat until you realise it’s near the end of the movie and it’s as good a time as any to finally defeat the 500 year old ageless ghoul.

Dracula's Fangs

While the story isn’t much to brag about, as nothing ever really got a reaction out of me except for Dr Helsing who is pretty cool. Although I did have a revelation as this was also the only character I really liked in Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula, the only other version of this story I had seen prior, so take that as you will. Where it excels is in the visuals as this Dracula does a really good job at creating a creepy sort of unnerving atmosphere. It also has to do with where the camera is positioned which gives the feeling of uneasiness, of not knowing what is behind the door, or what big scare is lurking around the corner.

Another factor is Christopher Lee is physically imposing as Dracula as he barely has any lines and the outfit and sort of gothic dark angles you see him at makes him a force to be reckoned with. His presence is lessened when we find out he can be killed by natural sunlight, crucifixes and garlic. It’s way less scary if we know exactly how to defeat an impossible force and the only reason Dracula could get away with his crimes against humanity is because our heroes didn’t properly think outside the box. What about fire, that’s hotter than normal sunlight, so hide in a closet or something and roast him when he’s about to leech off your wife’s neck!

I’m trying to think of what other nice things I can say. The first half is better than the latter, Peter Cushing was awesome at playing the only character from these Dracula movies I like and the few horror effects that were used looked pretty good. Unfortunately this movie kind of just disappointed. Even with its short running time I felt like I was already over it 40 minutes earlier. The horror itself was also a bit tame, not that this movie needed to be more bloody. I was hoping it would explore a bit more of it’s darker aspects like why do these sick women love throwing themselves into Dracula’s arms when they know they’re going to die? Is blood being drained from your neck some sort of sensation? Woah, woah too much information BC, leave it to the audience’s imagination thank you very much.

Overall, a bit of a letdown, but to it’s credit it’s a good suspenseful movie if we just cut out all of the character stuff. That’s one down and a couple more to go, and hopefully I can get through all of them before October is out the door. I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.

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Cameron Black

I review stuff and hate on everything you ever loved. But I’m still a super nice guy and make pretty entertaining content.

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