Jason’s Awesome DVD Shelf #158: Horrors of Dracula

I’m not sure why I have so many vampire/Dracula films in my collection. It’s not like I’m a huge fanboy of Dracula. Sure, I enjoy the story. There’s a board game and I LOVE playing as Dracula. But it’s a bit weird for me to have so many films about the bloodsucker. It’s almost as if…I was visited at night…and someone fed on me…and forced me to buy all these movie…I must obey…obey…

Huh? Why is it the next day? Why is my mouth covered in red liquid? Weird. Anyway, Horrors of Dracula!

First, the title. This is a Hammer Productions film and when it was made in it’s home country of England, it was just called Dracula. But because us Americans are dumb, if we see two movies with the same title, despite being made years apart, we get confused and wonder why Bela Lugosi isn’t anywhere to be found and who’s this tall skinny fella? So over here, they labeled it Horrors of Dracula. Apparently, they get over that by the ’70s cause there’s a thousand other movies simply called Dracula.

I should know, I own almost half of them.

Speaking of, this is pretty much a new adaptation of the Lugosi Dracula story with some minor changes. Instead of Renfield, Jonathan Harker shows up at Castle Dracula at the beginning. Dracula doesn’t have a Transylvanian accent, he has a rather prominent British accent. Harker travels to Castle Dracula to kill him under the guise of “checking out some rare books” instead of trying to buy the property. Harker comes across a random girl in the castle who begs to be saved and Harker doesn’t know what to do but he’s too late, she shows her true self, a vampire, and takes a bite out of him. Dracula shows up, gives us an iconic image, then attacks the woman, as Harker passes out.

You probably always wondered where this image was from. You’re welcome.

Harker wakes up in his room the next day and realizes he only has 10 minutes of daylight left so he sneaks out of his room, finds Dracula’s coffin but instead of killing him first, he kills the woman, and this wakes Dracula up. Because Harker had his back turned, he missed Drac getting out of the coffin and he fully transforms Harker into a vampire.

A few days later, Dr. Van Helsing, played brilliantly by Peter Cushing, shows up in the village that Harker was and asks around. He’s met with some resistance at first, but a waitress takes pity on Van Helsing and gives him Harker’s journal that spells out his fate. Van Helsing arrives at Castle Dracula, finds Drac missing, but Harker lying in a coffin. With no other choice, he puts a stake into Harker, killing him.

Van Helsing reports back to Harker’s fiancée, this time it’s Lucy, not Mina. Here, Mina is married to Arthur Holmwood and Lucy is Arthur’s sister. Lucy isn’t feeling good when Van Helsing shows up to break the news so she doesn’t know right away about Harker but she also doesn’t care because she’s being visited by a tall, skinny, pale blood sucker every night.

Van Helsing notices something is up with Lucy and recognizes signs of a Dracula booty call, so he orders Mina to cover her room with garlic plants and keeping the door closed at night. Well, Lucy hates all of that, has the plants removed and keeps the door open and welp now she’s dead.

Arthur blames Van Helsing for the death (why?) but when a random little girl (maybe Arthur and Mina’s daughter? Mina’s sister? It’s never made clear and I don’t remember her in the original film) mentions hanging out with Lucy, Van Helsing and Arthur visit Lucy’s tomb and finds she’s missing. Lucy is trying to suck the blood of the little girl but Van Helsing hits Lucy upside the head with a cross and she goes running away.

At the behest of Arthur, Van Helsing plunges a stake through Lucy’s heart, killing her for good. Now the hunt for Dracula is on! Some some rather humorous moments where Van Helsing and Arthur bribe a toll booth operator to tell them where a carriage containing Dracula’s coffin ended up going, which ended up being a funeral home, naturally. Mina gets a strange message via street urchin that she’s requested at the funeral home by Arthur but it’s actually our buddy Drac, who ends up taking a sip of Mina.

Van Helsing and Arthur show up at the funeral home AFTER Mina and Dracula is gone. Not knowing where else to go, they go back home where a curious Mina wants to know what’s up. Because she’s a woman in the 1800’s, they ignore her. But Arthur tells Mina to wear a cross and this proves to be too much and she passes out. They learn that Dracula got his greasy fangs all over her and now he must be stopped at all costs.

Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is hiding out in the cellar and an epic chase and fight scene ensues between Van Helsing the vampire slayer and Dracula! There’s several leaps and jumps and punches and shoves and kicks and makeshift crosses made out of candle holders and curtains being removed to reveal daylight and Dracula turning into dust. When he dies, Mina turns back to normal and the movie ends on a shot of Dracula’s ring. Is the next movie called The Ring of Dracula? If not, why not? Maybe I’ll make it!

Dracula is thinking “Aw man, way to use my own home furnishings against me! Dick!”

All throughout this movie, I kept wondering if I had seen this version but I think it was just cause I saw Bela Lugosi’s version several months ago and it was still fresh in my mind. I’m not sure how I’m gonna review the other Dracula films I own when those come up, maybe just link to this review? Would you allow me to be that lazy? Anyway, major points for Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Also wanna know something weird? The last movie I did The Serpent and the Rainbow, had a bit part played by Michael Gough, who you might know as Alfred the Butler in Tim Burtons/Joel Schumaker’s Batman films. Well, this film features Michael Gough as Arthur. AND The Serpent and the Rainbow featured a white guy messing with a local island’s traditions, much like Omoo-Omoo did. Are all of these movies going to connect to each other? Hmm…what could come next? I’m gonna guess a pale character named Lucy will show up somewhere. Let’s see if I’m right!

Until next time!

4 rating systems out of 5

-Jason

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