- "Mister Holmwood, when I told you about Jonathan I thought it best for your peace of mind to spare the details of the dreadful circumstances in which he died. But the tragic death of your sister is so closely linked with Jonathan's, that I think you should now know the truth."
- ―Professor Van Helsing
|Directed by:||Terence Fisher|
|Written by:||Jimmy Sangster; Bram Stoker|
|Produced by:||Anthony Hinds|
|Music by:||James Bernard|
|Edited by:||Bill Lenny; James Needs|
|Distributed by:||Hammer Film Productions|
|Released:||May 8th, 1958|
|Running time:||82 min.|
|Next:||Brides of Dracula|
Dracula is a British horror film produced by Hammer Film Productions and released in 1958. Directed by Terence Fisher with a screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, Dracula loosely adapts the original 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. Dracula is the third authorized adaptation of Stoker's book, the first two being the 1931 Universal Pictures version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, as well as the 1931 Spanish version Drácula, which was filmed simultaneously. Dracula features actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the first of a franchise that spans nine films under Hammer's production. While Fisher and Sangster retool many of the characters from Stoker's novel, the basic plot elements and character dynamics are vastly different.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Castle Dracula[edit | edit source]
Scholar Jonathan Harker travels through the town of Klausenburg en route to Castle Dracula. The coach driver refuses to take him all the way and drops him off some distance away from the castle. Jonathan travels the rest of the way on foot. Entering the castle, he finds an expansive chamber including a dining table and a meal waiting for him. Next to the dinner platter is a letter from the castle's owner, Dracula, apologizing for being unable to meet him. As Jonathan prepares to write in his journal, he meets a strange woman who silently enters the room. The woman claims that Dracula keeps is keeping her against her will and begs Jonathan to help her to escape. Jonathan doesn't know what to make of this and the woman turns and quickly leaves the room.
Moments later, Count Dracula enters the chamber from an upstairs doorway. He politely introduces himself and welcomes Jonathan to his castle. Jonathan says nothing of the woman he met earlier, but is anxious to serve as Dracula's personal librarian, cataloging the various indexes found in the castle. Dracula shows Jonathan to his room and tells him that he will be unavailable to assist him during the daylight hours. Jonathan shows Dracula a cameo of his fiancée, Lucy. When Dracula leaves, Jonathan begins writing in his journal. Though laboring under the pretense of being a librarian, Jonathan knows full well that Dracula is a vampire and he has come here to destroy him.
Later that evening, Jonathan wanders the castle and comes upon the strange, young woman again. As before, she claims to be a victim a prisoner of Dracula and begs Jonathan to help her. Tearfully, she leans in and embraces him, only then revealing that she too is a vampire. Jonathan pushes her away just before she has the chance to sink her fangs into him.
Dracula appears in the room and lunges at the vampire woman, enraged that she should try to bite his guest. Grabbing her by the wrist, he violently throws her onto the floor. Jonathan tries to protect the woman, but Dracula overpowers him. He awakens in his bedroom hours later with fresh puncture wounds upon his neck.
With the sun slowly going down, Jonathan knows that he is pressed for time. He records a final entry in his journal, and then climbs out of the window of the castle. He hides the journal inside of a tree across from the bridge leading away from the castle. He then returns to the castle and enters the lower crypt. He finds Dracula and his vampire slave asleep in their coffins. Harker unwraps a hammer and wooden stake and pounds the stake into the vampire woman's heart. As she dies, she reverts to her true age -- that of an old woman. The sun fully goes down now and Dracula awakens. Jonathan looks up just as Dracula leers over him.
Enter... Van Helsing[edit | edit source]
Professor Van Helsing stops at an inn in Klausenburg. He asks the innkeeper for a brandy and a meal and makes an inquiry about his colleague, Jonathan Harker. The innkeeper is abrupt and avoids his questioning. Van Helsing takes note of the garlic flowers adorned across the windows and threshold. He knows that the innkeeper and the people in this town are scared of a vampire, and Van Helsing promises that the work Harker and he are doing will put an end to this threat once and for all.
While Van Helsing enjoys his meal, the hostess comes up to him and hands him Jonathan Harker's journal. She tells him that she remembers seeing Harker and that a friend had recovered the journal from the Crossroads. Upon reading the journal, Van Helsing learns what fate must have befallen his friend.
He goes to Castle Dracula, but as he arrives, he sees a hearse pulling away from the estate. A white coffin is secured in the back of the carriage. Van Helsing inspects the interior of the castle, but finds it empty. He then goes into the underground crypt where he finds the remains of the dead vampire woman. Next to her is a coffin containing the vampire body of Jonathan Harker. Van Helsing grimly looks down at the body of his friend. He knows what he has to do.
The Holmwoods[edit | edit source]
Professor Van Helsing goes to the home of Jonathan's friend, Arthur Holmwood. He tells Arthur and his wife Mina about Jonathan's unfortunate fate, but neglects to detail the exacting nature of his death. Arthur is furious at Van Helsing for waiting ten days after the fact to deliver such news. Complicating the matter is the fact that Arthur's sister, Lucy, is Jonathan's fiancée. As Lucy has been terribly ill lately, Van Helsing felt that it would be better to break such news to her in person. Arthur and Mina decide to not tell Lucy just yet.
As the evening wears on, the bedridden Lucy Holmwood rises and opens the French windows to her room. She then removes a crucifix necklace from about her neck and loosens her collar. Two bite marks are on her neck, indicating that Dracula has already violated his enemy's true love. Dracula appears in the room and bites Lucy a second time.
The following day, Mina Holmwood consults with family physician Doctor Seward. Seward acknowledges Lucy's anemic condition and recommends a special diet and medicine. He also suggests that Mina might like to acquire a second opinion concerning Lucy's health.
Mina goes to the home of Professor Van Helsing and tells him about Lucy's illness. He asks to see Lucy at once. When he arrives, Lucy already knows about Jonathan's death. Nobody seems to know how Lucy learned of this. Van Helsing chalks it up to a premonition. Van Helsing takes Mina aside and gives her strict, albeit unorthodox instructions. She instructs her to decorate her bedroom with garlic flowers and keep all windows and doors sealed. If she fails to heed these warnings, Lucy may die.
That evening, Lucy writhes about on her bed in severe discomfort. The housekeeper, Gerda, comes in and Lucy begs her to remove the garlic flowers. Gerda takes down the garlic and opens the windows. As she leaves, Lucy awaits for Count Dracula with anticipation.
The following morning, Lucy is found dead in her room. Van Helsing criticizes the Holmwoods for not following his instructions. Gerda tearfully confesses to taking down the garlic and opening the windows. Van Helsing decides to come clean with Holmwood and offers him Jonathan's diary. Inside is a hint but to the true circumstances of his death.
Rising from the grave[edit | edit source]
The next evening, a police inspector brings Gerda's young daughter Tania back home. He tells the Holmwoods that Tania experienced a terrible fright. Amidst a bevy of tears, Tania tells Mina that she was out for a walk and came upon Lucy Holmwood. Hearing this fills Arthur and Van Helsing with a great sense of dread. Arthur goes to Lucy's coffin only to discover it empty. Arthur now begins to believe Van Helsing's tales of vampires.
Lucy Holmwood, now a vampire, is stalking about in the woods near a churchyard. She uses her hypnotic powers to summon Tania to her side. Arthur and Van Helsing appear and Van Helsing uses a cross to drive Lucy back. He places the crucifix upon the vampire's brow, burning its mark into her face. The sun is nearly risen and Lucy retreats back to her coffin. Van Helsing enters the crypt and drives a stake into her heart.
Back at the Holmwood estate, Arthur pledges himself towards doing everything he can to help Van Helsing destroy the creature responsible for turning Lucy into a vampire. Van Helsing tells him of the hearse he observed leaving Dracula's castle, and suspects that Dracula may have relocated to Klausenburg by way of Ingolstadt. They go to a warehouse facility and bribe the clerk into telling them about the delivery of a specific coffin. The clerk tells them that the coffin and its contents were delivered to the morgue of J. Marx at 49 Frederickstrasser.
Meanwhile, Mina Holmwood receives a message to meet Arthur at 49 Frederickstrasser. When she arrives however, she learns that it was not her husband who left her the message, but Dracula. Dracula rises from his coffin as she enters the building.
Early the following morning, Holmwood and Van Helsing go to J. Marx's office. The affable gentleman brings them down into the cellar which is filled with coffins. To his surprise however, the coffin that once contained the body of Dracula is missing. The two men return to Arthur's house and gather their thoughts. They try to determine where Dracula may have sequestered his coffin. Arthur addresses Mina and asks her wear a crucifix. She reluctantly takes it in her hand, but when she does, she collapses from the pain that it causes. Van Helsing rushes to her side and sees a cross-shaped burn mark in her hand. He tells Holmwood that Mina could lead them to Dracula. The two begin patrolling the perimeter of the property.
Final showdown[edit | edit source]
Later that evening, Dracula appears in the foyer at the Holmwood estate. He climbs the stairs to Mina's room and bites her across the throat. Van Helsing and Arthur come back inside and find Mina lying in bed, bleeding. Van Helsing performs an emergency blood transfusion. Afterward, the two men try to relax and collect their thoughts. Arthur tells Gerda to bring them a fresh bottle of wine from the cellar. Gerda tells him that Miss Mina has expressly forbade her from going into the cellar. Van Helsing suddenly realizes that this must be where Dracula has been hiding -- inside Arthur's own house. He runs down into the cellar and finds Dracula's coffin. Dracula barges in, but upon seeing Van Helsing, hisses then runs away. Van Helsing places a cross inside the coffin, insuring that Dracula cannot return to it.
Dracula abducts Mina and begins traveling back towards his castle. Van Helsing and Arthur take another carriage and try to catch up with him. Dracula is losing time however as the sun is threatening to rise soon. When Arthur and Van Helsing get to the castle, they find Dracula burying the still-conscious Mina inside a shallow grave. Van Helsing chases after Dracula who discards Mina in favor of finding sanctuary in his castle. The two race about the dining hall and Van Helsing pulls down a pair of drapes, allowing sunlight to come flooding in. Forming a cross from two candlesticks, he forces Dracula to back up into the cone of sunlight. Unable to move, Dracula turns to dust before Van Helsing's eyes. A breeze enters through the open window, scattering Dracula's ashes.
Cast[edit | edit source]
Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Copyright Holder: Hammer Film Productions; © MCMLVIII; All Rights Reserved
- Originally rated X in the United Kingdom, but has since been re-rated 12A as of 2007.
- The tagline for this film is, "Who Will Be His Bride Tonight?"
- Dracula was released in the United States on May 8th, 1958 under the title Horror of Dracula. It was released in the UK as just Dracula on June 16th, 1958.
- Filmed at Bray Studios in England.
- Production on Dracula began on November 11th, 1957. Principal filming concluded on January 3rd, 1958. 
- Actor John Mossman is uncredited in his role as the hearse driver in this film.
- First appearance of Christopher Lee as Dracula. Lee will go on to reprise the role in six of the eight Dracula sequels including, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. The only two Hammer Horror Dracula films that Lee does not appear in are 1960's Brides of Dracula and 1974's Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.
- First appearance of Peter Cushing as Professor Van Helsing. He reprises the role in 1960's Brides of Dracula.
- Dracula is the third film to pair actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing with one another. They previously appeared in the 1957 film The Curse of Frankenstein, and before that, the 1948 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Each of the eight Dracula sequels features either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, though not necessarily together.
- Christopher Lee only had thirteen lines of dialogue in this film, all of which were exchanges with Jonathan Harker. 
- When Dracula is first seen rising from his coffin, he goes off to clean the blood smears from his lip before returning to kill Jonathan Harker.
- The contact lenses that Christopher Lee was required to wear during his "red eye" scenes in the beginning of the film greatly impaired his vision. During one of the more physical moments, he ran right into actress Valerie Gaunt, dashing her upon the floor. 
- A post of Horror of Dracula can be seen in Jimmy Quinn's apartment in the 1982 monster film Q: The Winged Serpent.
- The prop cape worn by Christopher Lee in this film went missing for more than thirty years. It eventually popped up at a costumers named Angels in London in 2007. It has since been authenticated. 
Body Count[edit | edit source]
Total body count: 4.
- Vampire woman - Staked by Jonathan Harker.
- Jonathan Harker - Turned vampire by Dracula; Staked by Van Helsing.
- Lucy Holmwood - Turned vampire by Dracula; Staked by Van Helsing.
- Dracula - Driven in to the sun by Van Helsing; Reduced to ashes.
Recommendations[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
External Links[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
Keywords[edit | edit source]
19th century; Barmaid; Carpathian Mountains; Carriage; Castle; Castle Dracula; Coachman; Coffin; Crucifix; Crypt; Dracula; Horses; Hypnosis; Innkeeper; Jonathan Harker; Klausenburg; Porter; Transylvania; Undertaker; Vampires; Vampire mesmerism; Vampire woman; Wooden stake
|Hammer Horror |
This article relates to the films produced under the "Hammer Horror" banner of Hammer Film Productions. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Hammer Film Productions category.