My Monster Mashes: Lee’s ‘Dracula’ etched in my memory
Some movie experiences are etched into your mind, no matter how many years pass.
Thus is the case with “Horror of Dracula,” which was my introduction to Hammer Films and, more importantly, Christopher Lee.
What was special about this experience was that my father took me to the film. I was about 10 years old at the time.
My father enjoyed the early Universal monster movies and used to tell me stories about going to see “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” when he was a kid.
I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding the decision to see “Horror of Dracula,” but I do remember my reaction to the film.
This was one of the first horror films to show blood — with a stake driven through the heart of a vampire. Compared to what is shown in today’s horror features, these scenes were rather tame.
But to a 10-year-old the sequences were intense — so much so that I had to run to the men’s room because I felt like I had to throw up.
Luckily, I didn’t, and quickly returned to the movie.
It was Lee’s performance as Dracula that mesmerized me. I had seen “Dracula” with Bela Lugosi, and while impressed with the film, I felt it was lacking something.
Seeing Lee, gave me a hint of what it was — sexuality. I had come to expect a vampire who merely hypnotized his victims before giving them that fatal bite.
Lee was different; he seduced and caressed his victims, adding a sense of sexual urgency and lovemaking to his feeding.
Honestly, this stirred something in me that no other vampire film ever had.
I immediately became a fan of Lee and looked forward to his future movies.
I also enjoyed the chemistry between Lee and Peter Cushing. You could say they were the Laurel and Hardy of horror features. They played so well off each other and were perfectly cast as adversaries.
From that moment on, I was hooked on Hammer features and determined to see as many as I could when they reached my neighborhood theater.
Over the next few years I watched “Brides of Dracula,” “Curse of Frankenstein,” “The Mummy” and other releases.
As for “Horror of Dracula,” who cares if it was not a faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. It has its flaws and shortcomings, but the work of Lee and Cushing overcome whatever objections you have to the movie.
Even now, more 55 years after seeing it,” I continue to enjoy this movie. It is a pleasure I look forward to viewing over and over again.
Do you like “Horror of Dracula?” What is your favorite Hammer film. Share your memories with me and my readers.