Greatest Literature banner


CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1922, 1931, 1936–1945, 1958, 1960–1974, 1979, 1979–1995, 1992, 2000, 2000, 2006

Dracula first editionFirst edition


Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form

Literary, fantasy

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 180,000 words

The Brides of Dracula
Maybe the brides of Dracula are upset because hubby is missing from this 1960 sequel.

All in Dracula's family

The British Dracula sequels (1960–1974): Three films variably featuring Peter Cushing, David Peel, Yvonne Monlaur, Martita Hunt, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson

Despite the reception for his performance in Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee turned down a chance to star in the immediate sequel, The Brides of Dracula (1960).

His presence is missed, but his absence also allows the film to go in a different direction. Cushing is back as Van Helsing, this time on the trail of a vampire known as Baron Meinster. Meinster is kept chained by his mother the Baroness to keep him from his evil deeds but sweet schoolteacher Marianne, visiting the old castle, sets him free. Following which he goes after her of course.

Visually it's a lusciously rich film and the plot is clever enough to take us on unforeseen twists, despite our knowing the inevitable ending.

David Peel is a vampire we haven't seen before. Rather than present the experienced nobility of Lugosi or Lee, he offers a spoiled, young narcissist—a harbinger of Draculas to come in later decades. (Oddly this was thirty-nine-year-old Peel's last substantial role as he retired from acting shortly after.)

The vampire's mother, played by Martita Hunt, is a deliciously decadent old aristocrat who protects her son from the world—and the world from her son. The "brides" of the title, by the way, play only a minor role in the film, acting merely as Meinster's minions.

Official trailer for 1960's The Brides of Dracula from Hammer Studios.

The Lee-less Brides of Dracula is a modest success, and some have acclaimed it as one of the best in the British series. But it isn't a real sequel to the first Hammer-made Dracula. For that we have to wait several more years

The master returns without a voice

The imposing actor is back some years later as the master vampire in the third instalment, Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966).

However, now we have Christopher Lee without Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. The nemesis role is taken up instead by stout Andrew Keir as Father Kandor.

Lee as Dracula 1966
Lee as resurrected Dracula.

Prince of Darkness is not as good as Lee's first outing as the count. The film begins with a recap of Van Helsing's disposal of Dracula at the end of Horror of Dracula, reshowing the last several minutes of that film.

After that the prince of darkness doesn't return to the screen until halfway through. His recovery from certain destruction is logically unconvincing but makes for thrilling cinema.

But his vocal cords must not have been reconstituted because we never get to hear Lee's sonorous tones. (Actually the story is that Lee remains silent because he refused to utter the inane dialogue he was given).

We do however get to hear some rather yappy victims of the vampire: four travellers who, in classic horror form, decide to spend the night in the mysterious castle. One of them, who nearly steals the show from Lee is Barbara Shelley, who became known as Britain's scream queen for her horror histrionics. (Ironically, her screams in this film are said to have been dubbed by co-star Suzan Farmer.)

The film wraps up according to formula, albeit with a few creative twists. In the end a new way to kill a vampire is found.

Lee as Dracula 1968
Back again...and again...and again....

He's baaack and won't go awaaay

But you can't keep a good non-human down for long. In Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), an attempt is made to exorcise the spirit of Dracula (Lee again) from his castle but it ends up reviving him.

This time he's really ticked off though, because the rites have banned him from his home. So, of course, the local townsfolk become his prey once more, starting with the beautiful daughter of the monsignor who tried to exorcise him.

This is the first of Hammer's Draculas not to be directed by Terence Fisher, but his cinematographer, Freddie Francis, fills in, making one of the more stylish films in the series.

It's also the most sexually open Dracula film yet, with horny young lovers and occasional female nudity. And a memorably ghastly ending for the count.

The staking that fails to kill the vampire in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.

For years to come, the Hammer studio continue to turn out Dracula films with various combinations of Lee, Cushing and other actors, although without Terence Fisher at the helm. Among the gory delights are The Scars of Dracula (1970), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Dracula AD 1972 (1972), and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974). None reached the heights of Fisher's first three Dracula films.

Dracula AD 1972 is notable for having Lee (as Dracula) and Cushing (as Van Helsing)—the first time together in those roles, I believe, in fourteen years. But the focus isn't on the oldtimers but on a young group of London trendies in 1972 who seem to think it's still the swinging sixties. The movie plays out as a morality tale versus counter-culture libertarianism. The film is also noteworthy for featuring the American psychedelic band Stoneground in a bizarre party scene.

Twenty-something British actor Christopher Neame is Johnny Alucard (Dracula backwards), the villain of the piece who resurrects the old vampire to wreak havoc again, until being dispatched by Van Helsing again. It's often considered Hammer's worst Dracula film.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula is also a present-day story, a sequel to Dracula AD 1972 and works both Lee/Dracula and Cushing/Van Helsing into the script. It's equally mediocre and brings down the curtain—once and for all—on the series.

Don't get taken in by the title of Countess Dracula (1971). It's a decent Hammer horror flick based on the bloody deeds of a real-life character from the eighteenth century in Hungary, Countess Elizabeth Bathory, but it's got nothing to do with vampires, except that as she awaits execution at the end of the film the crowd starts chanting "Countess Dracula! Countess Dracula!" See it for the shots of bodacious scream queen Ingrid Pitt nakedly bathing in blood, but not to add to your Dracula lore.

— Eric


CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1922, 1931, 1936–1945, 1958, 1960–1974, 1979, 1979–1995, 1992, 2000, 2000, 2006