Serial Thriller: Horror of Dracula

Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

'Horror of Dracula'

Hex cast: 1958

'Horror of Dracula'

“Dammit! Who put Kool-aid in my blood supply!”

The charm: 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.

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

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

Speak the words: “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.”

Companion spell: 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.

The curse: Apparently no one at the time bothered to look at the color of actual blood.