Horror of Dracula (1958)
Directed by Terence Fisher

Starring Christopher Lee Melissa Stribling Michael Gough Peter Cushing

Arguably the best Dracula film ever made, this Hammer production was released the same year as the inferior "Curse of Frankenstein". It still delivers plenty of atmosphere and chills, and itís unfortunate that the film has yet to be released on DVD.

The movie more or less follows the traditional Bram Stokerís Dracula storyline, only this time Jonathan Harker is killed before he can leave Draculaís castle. Back in London, Dracula meets his match in the form of Van Helsing, played with unusual gusto by Peter Cushing.

The real highlight of this film is Lee, the greatest Dracula who ever graced the silver screen. Although he hardly has any dialogue, his presence is menacing and (girls tell me) sensual at the same time. You truly get the sense that Van Helsing and his sidekicks are in over their heads when they try to go up against him.

With buxom vampire babes galore and Technicolor blood, "Horror of Dracula" set the stage for a European vampire rennaissance that lasted into the 1970s. Directors like Jean Rollin and films like "Vampyres" all owe their existence to this legendary movie. Hammer would continue to produce stellar "costume drama" vampire films for more than a decade, before the craze finally waned at the end of the 1970s.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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