Length: 1Hr 22
About: On a search for his missing friend Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen), vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is led to Count Dracula’s (Christopher Lee) castle. Upon arriving, Van Helsing finds an undead Harker in Dracula’s crypt and discovers that the count’s next target is Harker’s ailing fiancée, Lucy Holmwood (Carol Marsh). With the help of her brother, Arthur (Michael Gough), Van Helsing struggles to protect Lucy and put an end to Count Dracula’s parasitic reign of terror.
- The acting is much better than my past experiences of watching Dracula. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee provide that familiarity that you’d come to expect of Hammer Horrors. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else take on Van Helsing in a better way.
- It took me a while to spot him, but Wayne Manner’s resident butler Michael Gough is an absolute joy to watch as the father of Lucy. It’s at his introduction that the film is a smoother watch and he works very well with Cushing.
- The defeat of Dracula is quite brilliant, even now. Yes, there was a slight difference in the colouration to the rest of the film, but the physical effects themselves really do stand up. Much better than so CGI counterparts ever could.
- I’m unsure as to why Dracula speaks at the start but is reduced to growls and hisses. It does nothing for the narrative and having him speak. It’s not enough to make him disarming and it’s too much to allow him to be fearful.
- I think it might be the Dracula story itself, but I found this rather clunky and slow to gain traction in its lack of protagonist. Or rather, a protagonist who isn’t present from the start. Perhaps framing the film and beginning with Van Helsing receiving Jonathan’s diary. That way we’re with Cushing from the start.
A clunky but well acted version of the legendary Dracula that plays a little more like a thriller than a horror.
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