Friday, October 21, 2016

"Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" (1968)

12 Days of Halloween 2016 2

For their next film in the Dracula series, Hammer stuck with a thematic concept. “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave” is all about faith. OK, so it is mostly a silly sixties B horror flick, but it really is about faith.

The film begins in an awkward scene set during the last film where an altar boy discovers one of Dracula’s victims in a church. (Apparently Dracula did a lot more than simply pester the couples we saw in the last time, although when he found time to do so is a bit of a mystery. Also, since when does Dracula go into churches?) Jump forward to a year later and Dracula has been killed. However, the town is not at peace, as a Monsignor discovers when he comes to check up on things. The people are too scared to attend Mass because the shadow of Dracula’s castle falls on the building. And, the local priest has completely lost his faith.

The Monsignor forces the priest to accompany him climbing the mountain (didn’t the castle have a road leading to it last time?) to perform an exorcism on the castle. Unfortunately, the priest is too scared to make it all the way, and while the exorcism is being performed, the priest falls, cuts his head, and his blood revives the Count still frozen in the water where he died last time. (Yes, that is as silly as it sounds.)

The rest of the movie sees Dracula controlling the priest to exact revenge on the Monsignor for exorcising the castle. Most of his plot concentrates on the Monsignors niece, Maria, who is in love with a man named Paul. But, brace yourselves! Paul is an atheist!

In the long run, Paul’s atheism and the priest’s loss of faith both keep them from being able to stake the Count. (Turns out, you have to say a prayer to make a staking effective?) But in a second attempt, Dracula is staked with a cross and the priest says the prayer. Paul, with such evidence of God’s power, crosses himself in the end. Has Paul become a believer? Has the priest overcome his doubt with faith?

This is always the approach of horror stories that try to deal with the reality of God. The reality of evil, and perhaps its defeat by the forces of good, is seen as proof of God’s existences. Sort of a twist on the old (erroneous) “you have to have evil or good loses its meaning. But a key element of faith is that it exists where proof is lacking or, to put it another way, when something is demonstrable it does not require faith to be accepted.

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