Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968 UK)

dracula-has-risen-from-the-grave-01The musical theme startled me on a first watch. James Bernard never wrote a better score than this one – it’s so threatening as well as thrilling. The psychedelic opening titles are also mesmerizing. In so many ways it is the quintessential Hammer horror film. It has all of the elements which have made me a fan of the Studio. The fairy-tale Central European setting, the Gothic Castle Dracula with the quaint little village huddling under its menacing presence.

The performances are several notches above the Hammer average. The young leads acquit themselves admirably. Paul (Barry Andrews) is much more animated than is usual for the *romantic hero* of British Gothic movies and Veronica Carlson (as Maria) is far from being merely the feeble screaming heroine. While Christopher Lee has few lines as Dracula, he doesn’t need many words to dominate every scene he graces with his commanding presence.

Throw in Rupert Davies reprising his pompous, but kindly and avuncular priest and you have a very superior cast indeed. Even Davies’ screen wife, played by Marion Mathie, is very realistic in her role. This is another above average entry into this series. It has everything you expect from a Hammer production: lavishness, fantastic set pieces, costumes, atmosphere, etc. One odd twist in the story is the assistance Dracula receives from a faithless priest, Ewan Hooper, who is so willing to help that he even carries the vampire’s coffin for him.

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Davies HooperI also thought there were some pretty audacious things in this movie as well. Our hero, Paul (Barry Andrews) is an atheist, and dates the Monsignor’s niece. Considering how religion is such a touchy subject, I thought it was not only bold, but very interesting as well. When Paul confesses his atheism to the Monsignor, the older man’s reaction is dynamic. This scene is the most powerful in the film. Unlike Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1965) Christopher Lee speaks, and looks much more comfortable. He is very menacing and often chilling as well. His glaring red eyes are put to great use. He is not unwilling in raising his hand to a barmaid either.

Another unusual highlight of the film are the multiple scenes that take place on the labyrinthian rooftops of the Victorian village. I can’t help but wonder how they accomplished this. Were they really filming on the rooftops of a village or is it an illusion accomplished through matte paintings or other effects? I’m sure it’s the latter; regardless, its excellent film work and a unique feature of this production. The set design and especially the lighting had some nice touches. In some scenes, for example in the cellar of the village bar, the green and red light that dances around the characters just oozes decadent wickedness. Director Freddie Francis has created a visually surreal flick that is mystical and comical at the same time.

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Comments

  1. This sounds like an excellent Hammer Dracula film I need to revisit! Fantastic review. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks! If you haven’t seen it yet…make sure you do. πŸ™‚

    Like

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