Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Director: Peter Sasdy
Main Stars: Christopher Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Gwen Watford, Linda Hayden. Peter Sallis, Isla Blair
Storyline: A gentlemen’s club is talked into resurrecting Dracula in trade for the ultimate sin.
Review (Spoils): Three middle-aged men who live life to the fullest are talked into selling their soul and some money to resurrect the prince of darkness himself. During the ceremony, the men back out but the young man who talked them into continues and Dracula is raised from the undead. Dracula takes it upon himself to kill each one of the men off one and one and ruin their lives. During all this, one of men Hargood’s daughter is under a spell of Dracula and is taken under his wing causing torment to the village.
Christopher Lee is back as Dracula yet again and he is outstanding. This time he does have some dialogue but nothing huge. We have the cape, red eyes, bright red blood, some biting, some glowing crosses; some great devil worship alters and because it is a Hammer Film some flowing bosoms. The storyline is actually decent and different then the other tales and we have the lovely Linda Hayden and Isla Blair gracing the screen. The only issue with the film is ending as it ended quickly without a long-winded battle that Dracula deserves.
Rating: I personally enjoyed this film even though it did have some plot flaws. We have some enjoyable views of the women that are overtaken by the prince of darkness and I honestly think Christopher Lee was the greatest Dracula. Someday I would love to sit and watch them all in order to get the full effect of the Hammer Dracula films.
The Return of Dracula (1958)
Director: Paul Landres
Main Stars: Francis Lederer, Norma Eberhardt, Ray Stricklyn, Virginia Vincent
Storyline: Dracula over takes a persons identity and moves to America posing as a far away cousin.
Review (Spoils): Count Dracula kills a passenger that just happened to sit in the wrong box on a train and takes over his identity. He travels to California where he plays the part of an artist who is a far way cousin of the Mayberrys. He acts funny and very distant and this attracts the young Rachel to him. The long-term plan of Dracula is to draw young Rachel to become his love in the new undead life.
I was not expecting much from this film as there are so many Dracula knock offs that I was waiting for the worse. We have Francis Lederer playing the wide-eyed Dracula and at first, I was saying to myself this is going to be bad. I was wrong! Francis Lederer took the regular Dracula and made it his own. We have a dark and mysterious man who just happens to be undead. He does not play the vampire part as much as he plays just the creepy man. The cute Norma Eberhardt plays the flirty and wants to move out of the countryside to the big city chasing him like a little lost puppy. Which causing conflict with her boyfriend and Dracula himself. The film is a very different take of the Dracula story.
The film gives us love, staring eyes, white dogs, a dead cat, some blood, a gory ending to Dracula, some fog, nasty neck bites, annoying young boy and undead girlfriends. It is Dracula in the countryside!
Rating: Not a bad film at all for a Dracula film. I personally will mark this up as a need to see at least once vampire film. Francis Lederer surprised the hell of my playing the part of the lead vampire and the ending scene is a nice bloody death scene that you do not want to miss.
House of Frankenstein (1944)
Director: Erle C.Kenton
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Elena Verdugo, Glenn Strange
Storyline: Dr. Niemann and his hunch back assistant escape the asylum. In their journey they revive Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and find the Frankenstein Monster.
Review (Spoils): Being the fourth in the Frankenstein series this movie kind of falls all over the place. First we Dr. Niemann (Boris Karloff) and his hunchback assistant trapped in prison. They escape by a strange lightning storm that hits the building. The doctor stumbles upon the coffin of Dracula (John Carradine ) from a freak show circus and they revive him from removing the stake. To add to the madness of their plan they come across the frozen body of the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr) and the Monster (Glenn Strange). They start a fire and revive both to use in their plan for revenge. All in this jumble of a storyline the hunchback falls in love with a gypsy woman (Elena Verdugo) but learns that she truly loves Larry Talbot which a silver bullet leads to both their deaths.
Boris Karloff does an amazing job playing a madman that wants to bring all the monsters back to life for his own revenge and pleasure. The ending scene is memorable to the fate of the Dr. Niemann character.
Lon Chaney Jr always plays the Larry Talbot character perfectly. In my eyes he will always be the Wolf Man.
Rating: This movie was not bad but it was a kind of all over the place with storyline. The whole Dracula plot could have been left out as it held not meat top the film. As time grows with the Universal films of horror they do become weaker.
Dracula : Prince of Darknes (1966)
Director: Terence Fisher
Stars: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir, Suzan Farmer, Philip Latham
Storyline: Two couples get stranded and a mysterious horse and coach picks them up. The coach arrives to Count Dracula’s castle where his loyal servant Klove hopes to resurrect the prince of darkness.
Review (spoils): Leading as a sequel to Hammer Films Horror of Dracula we have this fine gem. Two young couples get stranded in the gothic land near Count Dracula’s castle and his mad loyal servant Klove (Philip Latham) brings them to the castle as guests. Klove kills one of the gentleman and hangs him over the vampire’s coffin and slits his throat and the blood resurrects Dracula (Christopher Lee) once again. We have great acting and lots of red blood in this one. Dracula has no real lines in this film but he still at his greatness that Christopher Lee can do. We have throats slits, bites, stakes, fly eating and even the death of Dracula as they play the history of the free of running water (he dies in a collapse into the water underneath the castle). The Kolve character alone in this film is great as he plays the madman who wants the prince of darkness to rise again!
Rating: I would have to say this film is a good if not better than Horror of Dracula. The storyline is strong and yet again this is one of Hammer’s best.
House of Dracula (1945)
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Onlsow Stevens, Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine, Martha O’Driscoll, Jane Adams, Glenn Strange
Storyline: Count Dracula and the Wolfman go to visit a doctor to help cure their diseases.
Review (spoils): Dr.Edelman (Onlsow Stevens ) hopes to cure Count Dracula (John Carradine) of his vampirism but the Count’s true plans are to get close to his blond assistant Miliza (Martha O’Driscoll). Also the Mr.Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) wants help to cure him of his lycanthropy so he will not become the Wolfman again. During this Talbot tried to kill himself and jumps into the caves off a cliff. In the rescue of him Dr.Edelman stubbles upon the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) buried in the caves. In this also Dr.Edelman hopes to help and cure his beautiful brunette assistant Nina (Jane Adams) from a large hump on her back. In the end Count Dracula is destroyed by sunlight from the doctor after he learns of the over take to Miliza. The Wolfman becomes cured and the Frankenstein monster and the doctor both go mad causing the death of Nina, the doctor and the Frankenstein monster.
Lots are going on in this film which makes it go all over the place. Yes we have 3 monsters in the film but the prime acting of the beautiful Jane Adams and Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolfman again rule the screen. Glenn Strange did a great job playing the monster but he had such a small part that it was too bad. The makeup was all well done but once again I had a hard time accepting this Dracula played by John Carradine and he just was not frightening.
Rating: the film had its moments but at the same time there was too much going on in the one film. Count Dracula doesn’t even exist half way through the film so it’s a strange title for the movie. I’m half way on this film.
Son of Dracula (1943)
Director: Robert Siodmak
Main Stars: Lon Chaney Jr , Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton
Storyline: Count Alucard (flip this backwards) heads to the deep south in the swamps where he falls in love with beautiful plantation owner. He wants to grant her the undead life of immortality.
Review (Spoils): A decade after the first Dracula film Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr) appears in America and is invited to join rich Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) who has an interest in the supernatural. She tricks Count Alucard to fall in love with her so that she is granted the immortality of undead. Her past boyfriend Frank (Robert Paige ) does not understand her intentions and attacks the Count in which Kay gets shot. The son of Dracula Count Alucard brings her back to life or better yet unlife and she gets want she wants. She tells Frank her true plan that she wants him to destroy the Count and join her in the rich life of immortality. Frank is not much for it and destroys them both by sunlight and fire. We have cheesy bat scenes, cool vapour gas travel and the king of the cheese Count Alucard. I’m sorry but I just could not take Lon Chaney Jr as an evil vampire character or even threatening. I love Lon Chaney Jr but the part did not suit him or maybe it was just the lame mustache? For that the movie just did not scream classic Universal monster film for me. Louise Allbritton did an amazing job playing the character and really turned on the acting screws once she became undead (the lying in dead scene was great for that).
Rating: Unfortunately this film just did not have the uniqueness that the past Dracula films had. I could not take the Count Alucard character seriously and poor Louise Allbritton could not hold the film up all by herself. This is one of the weaker links of the series and the point that there was not connection of reference to the Dracula’s Daughter (the second of the series) it lost its connection for me.
Dracula’s Daughter (1938)
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Main Stars: Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan
Storyline: the night of Dracula’s death his daughter comes to steal is body away to lift the vampire curse from herself.
Review (Spoils): The film starts the night of Dracula’s death, Dr. Von Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) is wanted for murder because nobody believes in vampires. Contessa Marya Zeleska (Gloria Holden) comes to the site and steals the body of Dracula and burns the body. She is trying to lift the family curse from herself so that she is no longer being haunted as a vampire. She goes to Jeffery Garth (Otto Kruger) a doctor who thinks the whole vampire belief is in the head and it can be lifted by hypnotizes. It becomes a chase in which the Countess wants more from Jeffery she wants him to love her so there becomes a jealous struggle between herself and the Jeffery’s lovely admin Janet (Marguerite Churchill). This leads to Janet becoming attacked and used as bait till in a struggle the Countess is shot in the heart by a wooden crossbow and the curse is lifted.
Rating: Seeing this film a few times now it really is a gem on its own. Not as classic as the original Dracula but a nice little continuation from it that does not repeat itself. This is a different tale than your typical vampire movie. We do not have much in your typical bats, coffins and biting but Gloria Holden does a beautiful job as the daughter of Dracula.
Horror of Dracula (1958)
Director: Jimmy Sangster
Main Stars: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Striblin, Carol Marsh
Storyline: Dracula wants revenge on the Harker family and hunt them down including haunting his fiancée Lucy Holmwood. Only Dr. Van Helsing can stop him!
Review (Spoils): This screams classic Hammer and it is! We have Peter Cushing playing the classic Dr. Van Helsing trying to track down and destroy his arch nemesis Dracula, who is played by none other than Christopher Lee. Christopher Lee makes Dracula actually be frightening and not slick. We have the first of the many times Christopher Lee plays the character and it is the best. We have the fangs, blood and the red eyes. This is the way Dracula is remember and portrayed. We have true eroticism in the film that follows Dracula and many other Hammer films. We got blood, we have bosoms, blood dripping coffins, lots of burning flesh from crosses and one of the best of Hammer horror.
Rating: This is the best Dracula out there, this movie rules when it comes to horror or Hammer films overall. You cannot go wrong with this film Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are top notch in this film and created some of the most classic characters in horror.
Director: Tod Browning
Main Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, John Harker
Storyline: The Count Dracula goes to London England to haunt the area and capture the young Mina to become one of his female spawn. The battle between Van Helsing and Dracula begins.
Review: I have seen this film so many times but lately I watched this on the big screen as it was playing due to the Halloween season. I love this movie even more now! Universal films bring us the story of Dracula (Bela Lugosi) who ventures from Transylvania to England to torment a young woman.This is the first film of Bela Lugosi playing the Count and he does and amazing job with the classic accent (which has been stolen many times over).
Tod Browning focuses on the eyes of Bela Lugosi to show the power that Dracula has with his intense gaze.The castle is huge and beautiful and the scene where Dracula walks through the cobwebs on the long high staircase leads you to the mystery of the dark vampire. The lighting for this black and white film brings the undead to life on the screen.
Mina (Helen Chandler ) the leading female of the film is innocent and beautiful and fits the role perfect to become Dracula’s leading victim. She plays the character up to become something more full of life after dark after her nasty encounter with Dracula. She did a very good job.
But the leading star of this film is the Renfield (Dwight Frye) character. The crazy and madman spawn that helped Dracula get to London. Dwight Frye steals the show with his acting and plays the looney who loves to eat spiders, flies and maybe even hurt little children (if you read into the hints in the lines he presents). Renfield is even scarier than Dracula himself.
Rating: This was at one time one of the Universal films that I want sigh sure whatever but after seeing it more and more I notice that I love it. Open a pint (of blood if you may) for the first main Dracula appearance on film and enjoy this classic horror film.