Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Horror of Dracula

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

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.

Unleashed: 1958

'Horror of Dracula'

"Dammit! Who put Kool-aid in my blood supply!"

What evil lurks: Though it followed in the footsteps of the trailblazing The Curse of Frankenstein, this second film in Hammer Studios long-lived love affair with horror virtually invented traditional gothic atmosphere with its quiet, windswept countryside, cozy village inn and brooding, spooky castle. Christopher Lee puts on a tall, dignified air until his dark side comes out, at which point his towering height and unsettling snarl become truly menacing. Peter Cushing is a far more serious Van Helsing than Edward Van Sloan in the Universal original, but he’s also more scientific about his process.

What really set Hammer apart was the blood. Hammer was the first studio to graphically portray blood onscreen, dripping copiously from Dracula’s lips and staining his fangs, scarring and enthralling a new generation of film-goers, as well as influencing the more graphic horror films that would follow.

Highlight from hell: Lucy’s resurrection from the dead and her confrontation with her beloved Arthur and Dr. Van Helsing.

Terrifying trivia: Apart from assorted snarls and hisses, Count Dracula never actually speaks to anyone other than Jonathan Harker throughout the entire film.

Diabolical dialogue: “I cannot impress upon you strongly enough how important it is that you obey my instructions. Do exactly as I say and we may be able to save her.”

Son of: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). This is the movie that launched Hammer Studios as a legendary purveyor of gothic horror in the late 50s and early 60s. Along with Horror of Dracula, it cemented stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as horror icons.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: Apparently no one at the time bothered to look at the color of actual blood.