Dracula (12) 1958
Running Time: 82 min
Directed by: Terence Fisher
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough
After Jonathan Harker attacks Dracula at his castle (apparently somewhere in Germany), the vampire travels to a nearby city, where he preys on the family of Harker’s fiancée. The only one who may be able to protect them is Dr. van Helsing, Harker’s friend and fellow-student of vampires, who is determined to destroy Dracula, whatever the cost.
The studio that brought you Christopher Lee in The Curse of Frankenstein, brings Bram Stoker’s literary classic Dracula to the silver screen. This British version, made in 1958, starred Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing.
After years of painstaking research and archive delving, with funding provided by a number of contributors including the BFI (British Film Institute), Dracula can now be seen the way it was filmed, with fully restored scenes that were deemed too graphic in nature by the British Board of Film Censorship.
There are two scenes that have been fully re-integrated into the film and look as magnificent as the rest of the film. With a colour that is true to the films made during that time (that is, not using a colour pallet that was out of period) and a sound that is as crystal clear as any CD, this is a horror aficionado’s dream.
The two scenes that have been restored are “Dracula’s seduction of Mina” and perhaps the most anticipated scene ever in classic horror, “The Disintegration of Dracula by Sunlight”.
The seduction of Mina may seem very tame by modern cinema audiences, but if you imagined yourself in post war Britain in 1958, where a single screen kiss must not last longer than 3 seconds, then this is some really steamy stuff! We have Dracula, expertly portrayed by Christopher Lee, slowly seducing Mina before moving in for his trademark bite!
The second restored scene is one that has been on pictures and movie cards and books for years; that of a dying Dracula, having been exposed to sunlight by Van Helsing, slowly clawing away at the flesh on his face as the sun disintegrates him. The horror of this scene, intercut by a frightened and yet sympathetic Peter Cushing portraying Van Helsing, is both equally shocking and saddening.
The film as a whole may not be scary enough for viewers more used to the excessive blood and gore of modern vampire films and television shows, but those who appreciate classic cinema and especially filming with limited budgets and resources, and can transport themselves back to a time when the cinema lobbies were packed with towering figures of classic horror characters, the heroes saved the day and perhaps more importantly, the real horror was left to the audience’s imagination.
So sit back, pull the cushion in front of your eyes and prepare for thrills in classic horror movie style, and maybe have a bulb or two or garlic handy… just in case!