In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.
For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.
What evil lurks: Hammer Studios didn’t always produce the best scripts for their classic horror series, but when it came to timeless icons Dracula and Frankenstein, they perfectly captured the spooky, haunting atmosphere. In this follow-up to their adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, the thunder claps, the wind howls, the townsfolk fret and the beautiful young sex-kitten is… well, young and sexy. Christopher Lee sat this one out but Peter Cushing dutifully returns as supernatural vampire hunter, Professor Van Helsing. I can’t help but be impressed with the dead-serious gravitas he brings to the role. The film looks gorgeous and, though the ending is as ridiculous as any modern blockbuster, there’s nary a dull moment.
Highlight from hell: Van Helsing beats Rambo to the punch by a quarter century when he cauterizes his wounds with a branding iron.
Terrifying trivia: The ending was to have originally had the vampires destroyed by a swarm of bats. This ending proved too expensive to stage and shoot. The concept of this ending was recycled three years later for the climax of Hammer’s The Kiss of the Vampire.
Diabolical dialogue: “I see you are passing judgment on me, my child. Sleep before you pronounce sentence.”
Son of: Horror of Dracula (1958). Hammer Studios’ first foray into the vampire legend after their highly successful horror launch, The Curse of Frankenstein, both of which established Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as icons of horror.
Shoddy sequel syndrome: The brides themselves are anything but a menace as they spend most of the film just standing around watching the action.