Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Film: Dracula, 1958, Terrence Fisher

Yesterday, we were shown a film, this time was another horror film, the Dracula, or also know as the Horror of Dracula, the 1958 hammer films remake directed by Terrence Fisher starring Christopher Lee, as the Count Dracula, and Peter Cushing, as the vampire slayer Van Helsing.

The 1958's Dracula plot evolves Johnathan Harker, a doctor who disguises himself, as a librarian and begins to work in Count Dracula's castle somewhere in Germany. Being welcomed by the host, Dracula ( Christopher Lee), Johnathan is faced by a strange situation a woman who lives in the same castle, runs hysterically into him asking him to help her.
Johnathan becomes skeptical about the Count and his house, this intensifies when on the following night the same woman insists him to help her, and sneakily tries to attack Johnathan's neck. This situation is interrupted by the Count himself, separating the both and attacking the woman, Johnathan's tried to defend her but in vain, as it is attacked by the Count, who is a supernatural and strong being.
The morning after, Johnathan wakes in the bedroom with two marks on his neck, knowing what his happening next, he writes in his diary his story and what he is going to do next, he will try to find Dracula and exterminate him. Running out of time before the transformation, he is only able to kill the woman, living the Dracula free to gather more victims.
After a few days, Johnatan's friend, Van Helsing goes to the same town looking after for his friend, however misteriously, he finds his diary leading to the castle of the so horrific monster.
There he finds his friend already transformed into a vampire, and to release his friend pains he kills him. Although, his friend was now resting in peace, many more victims were to fall to the hands of the Dracula. Van Helsing being an expert in Vamprirism, predicts some of the moves of the count, and after many chases traps him in his own castle, killing him by exposing him to the sunlight, a fatal method to exterminate vampires.

Not reading the book, i don't know if it actually follows through the story, however Alan mentioned that it mixes some characters from other vampire stories, The 1958 Dracula, is a British remake of the American 1931 Dracula featuring Bella Lugosi.
This film in terms of narrative, is quite interesting, as is one of those films that may have more than 3 acts, as it bears 2 stories firstly the arriving, killing and transformation of Johnatan Harker and the latter Van Helsing extermination of the Vampire Count. On one hand, it was interesting to watch so many acts in a film, one the other hand, proved to elongate our perception of the film, for a 1 hour and 20 mins film it seemed much longer.
As the acting is concerned, I do think Christopher Lee impersonation of the Great Count Dracula is amazing, not only he looks sinister but he also, seems of the perfect built and fits well on our visual interpretation of Dracula. Peter Cushing as Van Helsing was also of really high standard acting, and both motivated the audience to watch the film, however the rest of the acting seemed out of a B-movie, with really cheesy moments.

The set design, was outstanding, although in some scenes were visible that it was a studio, the decoration with its strong colours, cluttered design, made the set resemble one of the rooms in any German Bavaria Castle. The use of strong colours really brought an astonishing atmosphere to the all film.
The sound effects were slightly overused characteristic of the 1950's horror films, and sometimes distracting, however when used in the right place added to the whole film's atmosphere.
Finally, one of the scariest shots of this film, was the close-up of Christopher Lee's face, showing his bloodthirsty appetite one of the most iconic scenes in this film.

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