Series Review: Dracula (Hammer Films)
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Horror of Dracula (1958)
Dr. Van Helsing is an expert on vampires seeking out the Count Dracula in order to end the terror of the undead cult.
To be honest, I was kind of falling asleep through the later half of this so this will likely not be a very detailed or even accurate review.
From what I saw the story was pretty decent and advanced very naturally and logically, which is somewhat rare in horror films. The film caries at a very fast pace and I felt some of the earlier scenes could have been drawn out a bit but I can see why they rushed it since Peter Cushing isn't in those scenes.
The acting is a problem. All the actors are totally wooden which really takes a lot out of it. The "action" scenes towards the end are also really lackluster and the special effects are pretty goofy. In general the movie is pretty goofy with the soundtrack and every vampire making ridiculous faces to show off their fangs.
Overall it's a passable film that just felt a little rushed and a sticks a bit too close to the cliches.
Brides of Dracula (1960)
A young woman is given a place to stay by a old baroness who's son is locked up in the castle. When the young woman frees the son, bad shit happens and Dr. Van Helsing shows up to save the day.
Brides of Dracula is certainly worse than Horror of Dracula in a lot of areas. It's probably goofier overall and the vampire smiles are taken to a whole 'nother level of ridiculous but it does one thing right that makes it better in my opinion. Pacing. The movie escalates at the exact right pace, making it consistently enjoyable despite some silly and pointless scenes.
I think the acting is overall better. Peter Cushing gets into the role of Van Helsing more and a few of the supporting characters were quite good as well.
The ending was great. I won't spoil anything but there is some pretty cool action scenes and some much improved special effects.
Overall, Brides of Dracula is a very enjoyable film even though it has some goofy scenes.
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Four lost travelers find themselves in a mysterious castle where a servant is attempting to resurrect his deceased master Count Dracula.
I'm just gonna come out and say it, I don't like Christopher Lee as Dracula. He comes off as a clumsy idiot who just stands around while people get away or attempt to destroy him. He just sucks the energy out of every scene he is in.
The movie otherwise is decent. It's a bit rushed and feels really short (even compared to the 80 minute run-time) but it's not particularly offensive and has a couple cool scenes.
The ending is pretty lackluster, though the film wasn't that exciting anyway. Overall it was OK.
The fear of the now destroyed Dracula lives on in a middle-European village and to regain the faith of the townsfolk a priest seals the Count's castle. When Dracula is accidentally resurrected, he then seeks out the priest's niece to get his revenge.
"Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" is the first film in the series not to be directed by Terence Fisher and it shows as the level of quality in the film-making isn't as high as in the other entries. A few awkward zooms and these really bad looking red and green filters whenever Christopher Lee is on screen.
Speaking of Christopher Lee, I actually did like him in this film. Maybe because the script actually allowed Dracula a bit of personality but I definitely think the character is handled better by both the actor and director in this film.
The story is pretty solid too. I was constantly engaged and interested in where it was going. Having a priest as Dracula's henchman was a good choice as you can see his struggle between obeying Dracula and obeying God.
My only complaint is with the cinematography and I was able to get past it after a while even when those ridiculous filters were at their most obnoxious.
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
A servant to Dracula is murdered during a resurrection ritual and the Prince of Darkness returns for vengeance against the three men who murdered his faithful servant.
While I was watching it I didn't really notice how dumb the story is. What I did notice was how bad Dracula's dialog is. Example: Dracula returns from the dead and says "They have destroyed my servant I will destroy them". Christopher Lee has maybe 4 more lines in the movie and they are all that silly.
The rest of the movie isn't that bad, fortunately. The plot works, though it is overly simplistic. The acting is fine, the movie looks fine, it's all good but nothing special necessarily. That is until ending which is completely ridiculous and awful.
Overall, "Taste the Blood of Dracula" is for the most part a good movie but Christopher Lee is underused and the ending is laughably bad.
Scars of Dracula (1970)
Dracula gets resurrected by a bat.
Scars of Dracula is easily the least interesting of the series. The story is essentially just a couple ending up at Dracula's Castle and bad things happen. It's not offensive or anything, just kind of boring. I don't even know what to say about it, just really average.
SERIES: BEST TO WORST
1. The Brides of Dracula
2. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
3. Horror of Dracula (pending rewatch)
4. Dracula: Prince of Darkness
5. Taste the Blood of Dracula
6. Scars of Dracula
A review of every film in Hammer Film Productions' Dracula series.
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