Film / Horror of Dracula

Who will be his bride tonight?

Horror of Dracula is a horror film by Hammer Film Productions, released in 1958. Its real name is simply just Dracula, but to avoid confusion, we'll be using the title that it was released under in the US. It stars Sir Christopher Lee as the eponymous Count and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, roles for which they'd both remembered for a long time. Lee would later come to resent his role because of increasingly inferior sequels and typecasting.

A very loose adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, the film opens with Jonathan Harker arriving in the Castle Dracula. He has come to destroy Dracula, but the plan falls through and he becomes a victim of the Count. Shortly after, Van Helsing arrives to investigate and discovers that he has been turned into a vampire, and Dracula has moved out from his castle to find more prey.

The film had several sequels, beginning with The Brides of Dracula. Christopher Lee would return to reprise his role in the subsequent Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

This film has examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: Van Helsing manages to halt Dracula by exposing his feet to sunlight.
  • All in the Eyes: Used on Dracula when he appears in Lucy's room.
  • Altum Videtur: A family crest above a fireplace in Castle Dracula reads "Fidelis et mortem" (faithful in death).
  • Badass Bookworm: Dr. Van Helsing: vampire hunter and even has Dracula running by the end of the film.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Dracula attacks Lucy. She is awake in bed, watching as Dracula appears on the balcony and waits for him to come to her.
  • Buried Alive: After arriving back at his castle, Dracula attempts to bury Mina alive.
  • Creepy Mortician: J. Marx, although he's really more eccentric than creepy.
  • Death by Adaptation: Harker, who never leaves Dracula's castle alive in this version.
  • Demoted to Extra: John Seward has a much smaller role than in the book. This may be due to Renfield being Adapted Out.
  • Eats Babies: Lucy, in her vampire state, nearly feeds on her 10-year-old niece.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold:
    • Harker notes how cold Dracula's castle feels like compared to outside.
    • Likewise Tanya notes how cold Lucy (post-turning) is when they meet up in the forest.
  • Fainting: Due to Dracula's bite, Mina Holmwood faints when a cross is placed in her hand.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dracula, when greeting Harker at the beginning.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Van Helsing has to give a slap to hysteric Gerda at one point.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Lucy in her first scene with Dracula.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Helsing does this to the vamped Lucy, searing her head with a cross. Later when Mina is partilly bitten by Drac, she's handed a cross to keep her safe but it burns her hand instead.
  • Improvised Cross: During the climactic confrontation, Van Helsing keeps Dracula at distance by putting two candlesticks together.
  • Infant Immortality: Little Tanya is rescued just before she becomes vampirized Lucy's victim.
  • Informed Ability: Dracula is touted as a nigh-unstoppable force of evil that is a threat to the entire planet's safety. Killing him turns out to be a rather simple matter. One man is able to chase him down and forces him into the sunlight with minimal assistance.
  • Leitmotif: Probably the most memorable element of James Bernard's music score. ("DRAAAA-culaaa!"')
  • No Immortal Inertia: When vampires are killed, they reveal their real age (recently turned people look normal, but centuries old vampires look like they should).
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The border guard at Ingstadt, who refuses to divulge the destination of Dracula's coffin...that is, until Holmwood slips him a couple of bills.
  • Oh Crap!: Harker, when going to stake Dracula and finding his coffin empty.
  • Ominous Owl: Arthur is startled by an owl's screams in the night, thinking them to be Mina's.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Getting bitten, even if not completely drained of blood, is an instant threat to the victim and they'll turn if not 1) treated properly or 2) the vampire who bit them is killed.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Dracula's eyes become bloodshot when he hungers or is enraged.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Used when Harker stakes Dracula's female servant.
    • Averted when Van Helsing stakes Lucy. We're treated to a delightfully gory special effects shot instead.
  • Sibling Switch Squick: Lucy and Arthur are usually engaged in Dracula, but here, they're brother and sister (as Arthur and Jonathan swapped spouses).
  • Slasher Smile: Lucy twice, the first is after calling Tanya to her with the intention of feeding on her. The second is when Arthur calls out to her and she realizes he's in the graveyard.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Harker foolishly waits until just before dusk to try and dispatch Dracula, and then even more foolishly stakes the female vampire first.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Lucy after rising as a vampire. Her first act is to target her own niece for feeding. When she spots Arthur, who was spying on her grave, she instantly tries to "kiss" him.
  • Vampire Hunter: Harker (who's not successful) and Van Helsing (who is).
  • Vampire Refugee:
    • Harker who in this version is actually turned into a vampire. Van Helsing has to grimly stake him.
    • Likewise Mina later in the film.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Women in this film simply cannot resist Dracula.
  • The Voiceless: Dracula, save for a few lines with Harker at the very beginning of the film.
  • The X of Y: The film's overseas title, original one being an Antagonist Title.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Van Helsing dismisses as "a common fallacy" the idea that vampires can turn into wolves or bats.
    • The underlying reason is pragmatic: Hammer really could not have done the FX work, as was shown by the utter Special Effects Failure in 1970's Scars of Dracula. Director Terence Fisher also said giving Dracula a handicap made the films more exciting.

Alternative Title(s): Dracula 1958