Hammer Film Productions cornered the horror film market throughout the `50s, `60s, and into the `70s and The Horror of Dracula may be their most famous effort. It’s the quintessential Hammer flick: vibrantly colorful with high production values, featuring two of the most iconic actors in horror film history — Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Lee and Cushing have always been under-appreciated for their acting abilities, but few can deny their on-screen charisma and chemistry.
Lee plays Count Dracula for the first time here, a role for which he’d soon become synonymous, while Cushing takes on the role of his nemesis, Professor Van Helsing. The appeal of these two actors may be an acquired taste, but I’m a huge fan. (I could probably watch either of them read the back of a shampoo bottle.) Despite its popularity, the movie itself is not one of my favorite Hammer films. Lee and Cushing have little screen time together and neither have yet fallen into their “groove” (this is only their second pairing).
The middle act isn’t as interesting as the first or last, and James Bernard’s music (which is normally very good) is a little too blaring. But it’s still good, cheesy fun, especially in the final minutes, as Cushing chases Lee through the castle with crucifix in hand.
Hammer horror movies are like pizza. Even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good. I think they resonate with me because I love watching British people fight monsters. No matter how ludicrous the scenario might be, they always approach it with an astonishing sincerity that I find utterly charming.
Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)