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Horror of Dracula: Warner Archive Collection (1958) - Blu-ray Review

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Horror of Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review

The steady beat.  The blistering horns.  That powerful theme of James Bernard’s pierces the walls of this cemetery; it is majestic even.  It sounds like a procession as the camera marches us toward the tomb of Dracula.  And then, because we’d not have it any other way, there is a sprinkling of blood on the crest of Dracula’s coffin.  That is our triumphant introduction to Hammer’s version of Count Dracula as portrayed by Christopher Lee and it is damned memorable.

Any appreciation for what Hammer did for horror begins here with director Terence Fisher’s EXCELLENT Horror of Dracula.  From the lavish production to the somber tone, this gothic tale of horror is his second stab at the look, the tone, and the feel of Gothicism on the screen.  And he nailed it, completely.  Not that The Curse of Frankenstein was lacking in any way, but here so much of what was introduced there comes together in a crisp 81-minutes.  It is, scene-by-scene, pitch perfect as John Van Eyssen as Jonathan Harker arrives at the castle of Count Dracula in order to bring about the end of this monster’s reign of terror. 

"While obviously NOT the first pairing of Lee and Cushing; this is the movie that sealed their legacy as horror icons and basically sold the franchise for decades to come."

Count Dracula keeps a lot of prisoners in his castle.  And, upon leaving Harker’s room after a brief introduction, he has yet another prisoner of his raging bloodlust.  But what a figure this Dracula strikes.  That scene, Lee’s introduction, where he stands at the top of the stairs before soaring down them toward his new guest is one that still unnerves me.  It is beautiful, memorable, and pretty damn frightening.  Could Lee’s shadow be any more elongated?  So ominous.  So prescient.  So damned unforgettable. {googleads}

Minutes later, there is another scene where Dracula barges in on a female vampire (Valerie Gaunt) who is about to get Harker at the neck.  NO!  Dracula wants Harker for himself!  The scene as he screams a ghastly cry and throws the woman across the room is shocking.  Following that, of course, is the scene in which Harker finds their caskets in the daylight.  He’s been bitten, but not yet turned; just enough time to kill these two. . .

. . . of course, he never finishes the second kill.

That must be left to someone else: enter Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing.  While obviously NOT the first pairing of Lee and Cushing; this is the movie that sealed their legacy as horror icons and basically sold the franchise for decades to come.  The very dapper Cushing battling the steadfastness and stature of Lee.  There is no substitute for these two legends together.

Horror of Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review

Co-starring Michael Gough as Arthur Holmwood, Melissa Stribling as Mina Holmwood, and Carol Marsh as Lucy Holmwood, The Horror of Dracula is expertly photographed, staged, and directed, showcasing much of the gothic standards that Hammer would follow for the next decade of moviemaking.  Even the special effects, one showcasing the destruction of Dracula (edited out for North American audiences, but finally put back in thanks to the discovery of a rare print of the movie) are top-notch.  We are spoiled by this bare-bones release.

The Horror of Dracula is presented on blu-ray thanks to the Warner Bros Archive Collection.

5 beers

Horror of Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
82 mins
: Terence Fisher
Jimmy Sangster
Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough
: Horror
The chill of the tomb won't leave your blood for hours... after you come face-to-face with DRACULA!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Why all these garlic flowers? And over the window? And up here? They're not for decoration, are they?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 8, 1958
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 18, 2018
Synopsis: Dracula (Lee), a centuries-old Transylvanian nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, regularly finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count's implacable foe in a deadly game of bat-and-mouse.


Horror of Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Archive Collection
Available on Blu-ray
- December 18, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Say whatever you want to about whether or not you believe in vampires because the beauty of this release will have you believing.  The colorful restoration of this horror film is a thing of crackling beauty.  Released via Warner Archive, the detailed 1080p image is beyond crisp and colorful, suggesting details in never seen before.  Black levels run deep.  Shadows are thick and defined.  There are few fuzzy scenes; everything is crisp, crisp, crisp.  Film grain is solid, too.  No pops, crackles, or hisses. The DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track is strong with absolutely no distortion.  Simply put, Horror of Dracula has never looked or sounded better.



  • None

Special Features:

  • Original Theatrical Trailer


Horror of Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review

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