Friday, June 12, 2015
"Horror of Dracula" (1958)
Audiences were introduced to a new era of vampire films when Horror of Dracula opened in 1958. (It opened in England simply as Dracula in 1957.) The opening sequence had two additions to the genre, color and blood, both of which had not been seen before in the horror film of the previous decades. Horror of Dracula, directed by Terence Fisher, brought to film for the first time the elements of evil depicted in the novel. It is both violent and seductive at the same time. The women preyed upon by Dracula exhibit a desire for him, for the evil that he offers, that had until then been avoided in the vampire film.
These scenes are an interesting departure from the usual myth in many ways. First, Jonathan is no victim of chance. He is going to the castle fully aware of the danger and because of it. He intends to destroy the evil from the very beginning. He is also not a "Modern" man. He has opened himself up to possibilities and to the existence of things the world does not believe and can not necessarily prove. Unfortunately, he goes to face the evil unprepared. It appears he was to wait for Van Helsing, but in impatience and out of a desire to rid the world of the evil as soon as possible he did not. At first this might seem to support the need for a community of believers to act against the evil. We will see in fact that this idea has developed some since the movies of the thirties and forties, but not much.
Jonathan’s fiancée is not Mina, but Lucy in this version of the story. Dracula preys upon her after Jonathan is disposed of, and Dracula’s motive in Horror of Dracula seems to be that of replacing his bride. Only two other characters from the book are present, although changed. Lucy’s brother is Arthur Holmwood, and here he is married to Mina.
Even so, there are other themes from the novel that are treated well in this film, some for the first time. The seductive nature of evil has already been mentioned. The sexual nature of the vampire and its appeal is explored as it has never been thus far. Lucy is completely drawn to Dracula and his evil. She awaits him impatiently in her bed at night. The evil is not simply enticing in and of itself, there is a defiant sexual aspect to it.
sequel after sequel. However, in each movie good keeps beating evil back and Dracula is repeatedly destroyed. The themes of Horror of Dracula, are expanded as each film focuses on the seductive nature of evil, and on the element of faith needed to destroy it.