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.
Hex cast: 1960
The charm: 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.
Focal point: Van Helsing beats Rambo to the punch by a quarter century when he cauterizes his wounds with a branding iron.
Entrancing 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.
Speak the words: “I see you are passing judgment on me, my child. Sleep before you pronounce sentence.”
Companion spell: 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.
The curse: With the fall of the Hays Code and the advent of the more graphic 1970s, after this the Hammer vampire films began to lose their charm.