Dracula Has Risen From the Grave | Varied Celluloid

Dracula Has Risen From the Grave

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 26 - 2008
Originally written by Prof. Aglaophotis


Plot Outline: A year has passed since Count Dracula was defeated in Transylvania; yet the townsfolk still seem to believe that his evil hasn’t been completely defeated. For this purpose, the Monsignor decides to go and exorcise Dracula’s castle. Equipped with a crucifix and accompanied by the local priest, he heads for the hills to get rid of this evil once and for all. Unfortunately for them things soon take an unexpected turn when the local priest hurts himself and accidentally spills some of his blood on Dracula’s hidden grave, waking the latter from his sleep. As Dracula comes back to life, he wastes no time in wreaking havoc on the town inhabitants once again; and after making a sensual local bartender his slave, he decides to seduce Maria, the Monsignor’s niece. The Monsignor’s only hope in saving his niece lies in Maria’s boyfriend Paul, who swears to protect Maria with his own life. The final confrontation between Paul and Count Dracula will determine the fate of all the people of Transylvania.


  

The Review
Among the countless horror figures the film industry exploited throughout the years, there is no doubt that Dracula is the most popular and immortal icon of them all. From Max Schreck to Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee to Gary Oldman, and more recently resurrected yet again in Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000 and in the upcoming Van Helsing; Dracula has steadily grown to be the most popular vampire and horror character of all time. Yet, no matter how many more Dracula versions will continue to exist in the future (seeing Hollywood’s continuous fascination in milking every last drop from a franchise); I will always remain to cherish two particular versions of Dracula in my heart. And these are Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee. I don’t think I need to expand on the greatness of Lugosi, as every respectable horror movie fanatic should know who he is and what he contributed to the vampire genre for several years to come. In the case of Christopher Lee, he managed to become a horror legend back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s thanks to his Dracula Hammer films. And I dare say that every inch of success he obtained was well deserved; given the fact that he created one of the most charismatic vampires in cinema history. In my book, no Saruman or Count Dooku would ever come close to the coolness that was Count Dracula.

Dracula has risen from the grave is actually the fourth film in the whole Hammer series (which can boast of a total of eight entries), and one of the seven films out of all these to feature Christopher Lee. Ironically enough, the producers had no choice but to make the second instalment, Brides Of Dracula, without Lee; the reason being that Lee himself was afraid of type-casting at the time. He seemed to eventually change his mind over time since he then came back for no less than six sequels. Many fans of these movies seem to agree that Dracula has risen from the grave is the last real good entry into the series. It is actually a very good film in its own right, made back in the days when atmosphere was preferred to false scares and suspense was preferred to giving petty theories on why Dracula acts the way he does. This is as a matter of fact one of the main gripes I have with several modern versions. Remember the ending to Dracula 2000 and all that Judas Escariot nonsense? Many horror movies nowadays try too hard to construct an interesting story, and seem to forget that their primary reason of existence should be to frighten the unsuspecting viewer as effectively as possible. The Hammer Film producers were definitely aware of this, and Dracula has risen from the grave is living proof. The film doesn’t give us any information on Dracula’s background and evil origins, partly because it’s a sequel and partly because this was the way many horror movies were approached back in the days. As soon as Dracula is out of his grave he immediately jumps into action, without any clear motives except for the fact he wanted to seek some sort of revenge on the Monsignor that tried to exorcise his castle. This is actually quite secondary to the whole premise though. All we need to know is that he’s Count Dracula and he’s an evil force. If we acknowledge just that, we are almost guaranteed to enjoy the movie. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and I think it even helps to make the entire Dracula mystique all the more frightening. One of the golden rules I’ve learned from my experience in watching horror movies is that the less you know about the villain, the more scary the movie will turn out to be. Just compare Halloween to its sequels as one example.

Surprisingly, this movie also featured a recurring sexual element in it; and it’s one of the first movies responsible to introduce the concept of the seductive vampire. There is absolutely no form of nudity in it; yet the film still fells strangely erotic in some places, particularly evidenced by the clothes worn by the female bartender and the sensual face expression of a female character lead when she’s bitten by Dracula. The film manages to be sexy without feeling the need to include sex, also partly thanks to the natural beauty of Veronica Carlson, whom director Freddie Francis successfully exploits every angle of her charm to full effect.

The film’s flaws are quite minor, and they usually have to do with some plot-holes or continuity errors. For example, it is never explained why Dracula didn’t order the priest to take off the crucifix attached on his castle the first time he sees it. Instead, he decides to leave it there for no apparent reason; and when he goes back to the castle at the end of the film, he quickly orders Maria to take it off herself. This factor should be quite noteworthy since it will eventually influence Dracula’s fate. Another thing I noticed happens during the chase scene between Dracula and Zena. This scene should’ve taken place at night; yet the shots seem to jump from dark night to early dawn continously. And I never fully understood where the first victim hidden in the church bell came from, since Dracula was still sleeping for over a year when the bell ringer finds the body.

The Conclusion
Such trivial inconsistencies shouldn’t nonetheless stop you from enjoying such a well-made vampire movie. When you hear James Bernard’s haunting score in the opening credits, when you see Christopher Lee light the screen with his presence, when you experience a movie filled with such eerie atmosphere; you know you have just found a long- forgotten little gem.



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