Dracula (1958)

UK,
77m (Germany – theatrical), 77m 58s (UK – video), 82m (UK – theatrical), 83m (USA – theatrical)
35mm, Technicolor, 1.33:1 (negative ratio), 1.75:1 (intended ratio)
mono, English
Reviewed at The EOFFTV Review

A British horror film directed by Terence Fisher. It was filmed at Hammer's studio at Bray and on locations in Black Park Country Park in Buckinghamshire.

Plot Summary

Posing as a librarian, Jonathan Harker travels to the castle of Count in Transylvania hoping to destroy the vampire. But his mission fails when he himself is turned by the Count and his colleague, Doctor is forced to destroy him. Van Helsing travels to the town of Karlstadt where Harker's fiancé, Lucy, has been targeted by a vengeful Dracula…

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Terence Fisher
© MCMLVIII [1958] by Hammer Film Productions
A Hammer Film production
Executive Producer: Michael Carreras
Produced by: Anthony Hinds
Associate Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys
Production Manager: Don Weeks
Screenplay by: Jimmy Sangster
Based on the novel by Bram Stoker
Assistant Director: Bob Lynn
2nd Assistant Director: Tom Walls *
3rd Assistant Director: Hugh Harlow *
Continuity: Doreen Dearnaley
Director of Photography: Jack Asher
Camera Operator: Len Harris
Focus Puller: Harry Oakes *
Chief Electrician: Jack Curtis *
Grip: Alf Lay *
Stills: Tom Edwards *
Supervising Editor: James Needs
Editor: Bill Lenny
Colour by Technicolor
Music Composed by: James Bernard
Conducted by: John Hollingsworth
Sound Recordist: Jock May
RCA Sound System
Wardrobe: Molly Arbuthnot
Make Up: Philip Leakey
Hair Stylist: Henry Montsash
Special Effects: Sydney Pearson, Les Bowie [both uncredited]
Production Designer: Bernard Robinson
Property Master: Tommy Money *
Master Plasterer: Arthur Banks *
Production Accountant: W.H.V. Able *
Studio Manager: Arthur Kelly *

Cast
Peter Cushing (Doctor Van Helsing)
Michael Gough (Arthur Holmwood)
Melissa Stribling (Mina Holmwood)
Christopher Lee as Dracula
Carol Marsh (Lucy)
Miles Malleson (undertaker)
John Van Eyssen (Jonathan Harker)
Olga Dickie (Gerda)
George Benson (official)
Charles Lloyd Pack (Dr Seward)
George Woodbridge (landlord)
Valerie Gaunt (vampire woman)
Janina Faye (Tania)
Barbara Archer (Inga)
George Merritt (policeman)
Geoffrey Bayldon (porter)
Paul Cole (lad)
John Mossman [hearse driver] *

Scenes cut from the US release print
Stedwell Fulcher [man in coach] *
Humphrey Kent [fat merchant] *
Guy Mills [coach driver] *
Dick Morgan [coach driver's companion] *
Judith Nelmes [woman in coach] *
William Sherwood [priest] *

Alternative Titles

Le Cauchemar de Dracula – French title
Dracula il vampiro – Italian title
I Draculas klor – Swedish title
Horror Draculi – Polish title
Horror of Dracula – US title

Sequels
The Brides of Dracula (1960)
Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969)
Scars of Dracula (1970)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

Extracts included in
100 Years of Horror (1996)
Fade to Black (1980)
Innocent Blood (1992)
The Many Faces of Christopher Lee (1996)
Peter Cushing: A One-Way Ticket to Hollywood (1989)
The World of Hammer: Dracula & the Undead (1994)
The World of Hammer: Hammer Stars: Christopher Lee (1994)
The World of Hammer: Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing (1994)
The World of Hammer: Vamp (1994)

Press

1958
Variety 7 May 1958 p.22
There's gore aplenty in this import turned out by Michael Carreras' Hammer Film Productions. Specializing in “raw heads and bloody bones” product, Hammer also has to its credit last year's Curse of Frankenstein which mopped up at the wicket. As was Curse, Dracula too is in color – a factor that tends to heighten the exploitation values inherent in the film. […] Both director Terence Fisher as well as the cast have taken a serious approach to the macabre theme that adds up to lotsa tension and suspense. Peter Cushing is impressive as the painstaking scientist-doctor who solves the mystery. Christopher Lee is thoroughly gruesome as Dracula, and Michael Gough is suitably skeptical as a bereaved relative who ultimately is persuaded to assist Cushing. […] Eerie atmosphere is accented by producer Anthony Hinds physical values and Bernard Robinson's art direction. These assets are aided by the Eastman color (processed by Technicolor) lensing of Jack Asher, and the ominous qualities of the James Bernard score conducted by John Hollingsworth. Bill Lenny edited to a tight 82 minutes. – from a review by Gilb

The Daily Cinema no.8004 (19 May 1958) p.7
Treatment is truly impressive. Not a second is wasted in giving Bram Stoker's great novel the treatment it deserves. From the word “go” and tingles as one horrific sequence climaxes another. Terence Fisher, backed by a first-rate team of technicians, makes this a nerve-wracking experience. He captures the feeling not only spectacularly but with serious conviction. An excellent over-all job. […] Performances are in the right key throughout. Peter Cushing is a dominant figure as the doctor, and Christopher Lee never misses as the horrifying Dracula. […] This is a classic example of how out-and-out screen thrills can be relayed with a happy combination of punch and conviction. Lavish settings and the magnificent use of backgrounds give the production a commanding appearance. It is moulded together with serious care and appreciation. […] The Hammer Film men have produced another full-blooded thriller which has all the promise of beating even the earlier Frankenstein success. Dracula will have audiences terrified in their seats from Land's End to New York. – from a review by C.B.

Daily Herald 23 May 1958
Dracula is a truly horrible Horror film. I understand the censor has cut its worst excesses, but even so an awful lot of nastiness remains. I admit that the whole thing is brilliantly done. But, to my mind, that makes its impact greater and its effect more revolting. […] I'm sure that whoever said the film industry needed a shot in the arm did not expect to be taken quite so literally. – from a review (Gore blimey! by Anthony Carthew

Daily Mirror 23 May 1958 p.19
It is – unless my ice-chilled spine deceives me – the most ghastly, horrifying scare film ever made. Alongside this sharp-toothed “Dracula”, Frankenstein's monster is a soppy ‘aporth with stitches. – from a review (Dracula-a-a-g-h!) by Donald Zec

Evening News 22 May 1958
Filmed by the makers of that other nursery fable, The Curse of Frankenstein, the film fortunately has a cardboard unreality and so makes entertainment for everyone but nervous elderly aunts. Mr. Cushing and Mr. Gough play their parts with the simulated seriousness of actors extolling washing powder in a TV ad. Mr. Lee, who was Frankenstein's creation in the earlier film, is settling down nicely in the monster business. As a humorous undertaker Miles Malleson supplies the same sort of comic relief as the porter in “Macbeth”. – from a review by Felix Barker

The Times 26 May 1958
There is blood here in plenty, but it is unconvincing stuff, which never seems to look realistic in a colour film. There is also the academic touch, with learned references to the methods by which the vampire may be recognized, withstood, and overcome, all of which helps to introduce a note of spinechilling reality. And finally there is the full melodramatic treatment, with smouldering logs casting their eerie shadows, red velvet curtains falling from ancient ceilings lost in shadow, four-poster beds and echoing, stone-flagged corridors. Mr. Fisher has clearly a feeling for the baroque, in mood as well as in furnishings, and those responsible for the film's decor have given him admirable support. […] [A]lthough liberties have been taken with the text. Mr. Jimmy Sangster's screenplay has wisely retained something of the precise formality of the Victorian dialogue. Mr. John Van Eyssen, as Jonathan, the first of Count Dracula's victims, gets the story away to a good start by representing complete normality in the face of the abnormal, while Mr. Peter Cushing, as the one who carries on the battle against the monster, is suitably tight-lipped and resolved. Mr. Christopher Lee makes a saturnine and malignant Count whose silhouette fits most effectively into a background of shadows, and the part is played straight, as melodramatic parts should be played. Altogether this is a horrific film, and sometimes a crude film but by no means an unimpressive piece of melodramatic story-telling. – from an uncredited illustrated review (Melodramatic Period Pieces for the Screen: Why Half-Measures Will Not Do”)

New Statesman 7 June 1958
[S]traight, brisk matter-of-fiction, hair-raising with stakes driven through the heart. Christopher Lee scores points by not looking too much a monster and Peter Cushing as his hunter-down is admirably urgent. I prefer Dracula myself with all the frills – vertical wall-scalings by moonlight and a house in Piccadilly as Gothic as may be. However, for others who go for the gruesome-humdrum, here it is; if not – despite blood – full-blooded. – from a review by William Whitebait

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.25 no.294 (July 1958) p.87
Photographed in colour by Britain's specialists in horror fantasy, this new adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic achieves effective climaxes, and the staging could hardly be better. But between these climaxes progress is slow – though in fairness it should be said that the Lugosi version seems even slower when seen today. The two principles appear to be completely at home in these surroundings, though Michael Gough, by his tentative and bloodless performance, suggests that he was a little intimidated. The set piece – the lightning decomposition of Dracula – uses technical resources to their full and spares the audience little of the physical details of what is going on. – author not credited

1997
Sight & Sound vol.7 no.6 (June 1997) p.66
With his impeccable manners and well-spoken accent, Christopher Lee's Dracula has more in common with such matinee idols as James Mason and Stewart Granger than with Max Schreck's cadaverous Nosferatu. Peter Cushing's Van Helsing is also very English, an eccentric, Edwardian scientist whose lateral thinking rekindles memories of Sherlock Holmes. Fisher's approach seems as influenced by the Gainsborough costume melodramas of the 40s as by earlier film versions of the tale – it is another story of a predatory aristocrat turning the lives of nice middle-class folk upside down. The clash between the brisk rationalism of Van Helsing, Harker (John Van Eyssen) and Holmwood (Michael Gough) and the sensuality of Dracula makes for an intriguing foray into vampire territory. – from an illustrated video review by Tom Tunney and Geoffrey Macnab

References

Periodicals

  • L'Avant-Scène Du Cinéma no.160/161 (July/September 1975) pp.31-42, 59-75; 76 – reprinted script; review
  • Cinema Business no.35 (June 2007) p.47 – Illustrated article (Dracula has risen, again)
  • Cinema Retro no.1 (January 2005) pp.58-59 – illustrated article (Hugh Who? There Is Only One Van Helsing by Christopher Gullo)
  • Classic Monsters of the Movies no.31 (Spring 2024) pp.4-17 – illustrated article (Dracula revisited: : A closer look at the undisputed 1958 classic by Jonathan Rigby)
  • Classic Television no.5 (June/July 1998) pp.10-25 – illustrated synopsis, article (British Film: The Classic Television Top 100)
  • The Daily Cinema no.8004 (19 May 1958) p.7 – credits, review (by C.B.)
  • The Dark Side no.211 (2020) pp.14-23 – illustrated article (Dracula and other by Allan Bryce)
  • Dark Terrors no.16 (December 1998) pp.19-34) – illustrated production notes, review (by Mike Murphy)
  • Empire no.222 (December 2007) p.60 – illustrated review (by Alan Morrison)
  • Fangoria no.219 (January 2003) p.60 – DVD review (DVD Dungeon: Horror of Dracula by Matthew Kiernan)
  • Film Review February 1997 p.63 – note (Filmfax: Your Questions Answered by James Cameron-Wilson)
  • Film Review April 1999 pp.80-85 – illustrated article (Call Sheet by Howard Maxford)
  • Filmfax no.61 (June/July 1997) pp.41, 42 – illustrated credits, review (by Deborah Del Vecchio)
  • Gothique no.9 (October 1969) pp.4-8 – illustrated article (Back to Nosferatu! by John Ramsey Campbell)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.149 no.42 (6 May 1958) p.3 – credits, review
  • The House of Hammer vol.1 no.1 (October 1976) pp.5-25 – comic adaptation; pp.45-48 – illustrated article (Drinkers of blood… Stealers of souls by Steve Moore)
  • The House That Hammer Built no.2 (April 1997) pp.66-83 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review (Dracula)
  • The House That Hammer Built no.10 (October 1998) pp.91-106 – illustrated article (Terence Fisher)
  • The House That Hammer Built no.11 (February 1999) pp.137-176 – illustrated article, interviews (Hammer – The Production Designer/Art Director)
  • Journal of British Cinema and Television vol.1 no.2 (2004) pp.291-296 – illustrated book review [Dracula by Peter Hutchings] (by Neil Sinyard)
  • Kine Weekly no.2649 (22 May 1958) p.22 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.25 no.294 (July 1958) p.87 – credits, review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.211 no.6 (10 May 1958) p.824 – review
  • New Statesman 7 June 1958 – review (by William Whitebait)
  • Photon no.27 (1976) pp.22-35; 40-41; 42 – review (by Ronald V. Borst); illustrated article (Dracula/Dracula by Lane Roth); article (Dracula – His Music by Bill Littman)
  • Shivers no.135 (November 2007) p.90 – Illustrated review (by Stuart Weightman)
  • Sight & Sound vol.7 no.6 (June 1997) p.66 – illustrated video review (by Tom Tunney and Geoffrey Macnab)
  • Variety 7 May 1958 p.22 – credits, review (by Gilb)

Newspapers

  • Daily Express 23 May 1958 – illustrated interview with James Carreras (Is Jimmy Carreras King of Nausea? by Leonard Mosley)
  • Daily Herald 23 May 1958 – review (Gore blimey! by Anthony Carthew)
  • Daily Mirror 23 May 1958 p.19 – review (Dacula-a-a-g-h! by Donald Zec
  • Daily Sketch 23 May 1958 – review (Dracula – this must be the very last word in horror by Harold Conway)
  • Essex Chronicle 30 May 1958 – illustrated note (In town this week: Triple X for vampire called Dracula by Frank Outram)
  • Evening News 22 May 1958 – review (by Felix Barker)
  • Evening Standard 22 May 1958 – review (Nasty habit)
  • News Chronicle 23 May 1958 – illustrated review (Horror – I say it's good for you by Paul Dehn)
  • News Chronicle 7 July 1958 – note (Dracula upsets blood donors by Bryan Thompson)
  • The Star 22 May 1958 – review
  • The Times 26 May 1958 – illustrated review (Melodramatic Period Pieces for the Screen: Why Half-Measures Will Not Do”)
  • The Times Education Supplement 27 June 1958 – review

Books

  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.112-113 – illustrated credits, review
  • British Gothic Cinema by Barry Forshaw pp.38, 44-8, 49, 57, 62, 191, 206
  • The Charm of Evil: The Life and Films of Terence Fisher by Wheeler Winston Dixon pp.xi, xiii, 5, 20, 142, 237, 266, 283, 292-322, 334-335, 342, 347, 350, 369, 390, 419, 434, 440; 514-516 – notes; credits
  • Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and Horror Cinema: A Filmography of Their 22 Collaborations by Mark A. Miller pp.71-95 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Christopher Lee Filmography by Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller pp.74-76
  • Christopher Lee: The Authorised Screen History by Jonathan Rigby pp.8, 11, 51, 56-60, 61, 62, 63-64, 66, 68, 92, 101, 109, 112, 125, 137, 141, 146, 155, 202
  • Classic Horror Films and the Literature That Inspired Them by Ron Backer pp.78-83 – illustrated credits, review
  • Count Dracula Goes to the Movies: Stoker's Novel Adapted (3rd Edition) by Lyndon W. Joslin pp.51-61 – credits, review
  • A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series by Ken Hanke pp.195-198; 204 – credits, review
  • The Cult Films of Christopher Lee by Jonathan Sothcott pp.26-39
  • Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921-2010 by John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan (Kay) Picart pp.63-64 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Encyclopedia of Novels Into Films second edition by John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh pp.105-109 – illustrated credits, review (by J.C.T. [John C. Tibbetts]) – credits
  • English Gothic by Jonathan Rigby pp.29, 30, 43, 49, 51-53, 59, 62, 68, 71, 77, 79, 80, 98, 156, 186, 195, 246 – illustrated notes, review
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.73, 82, 83, 88, 90, 108, 120, 125, 132, 133, 191, 195
  • The Films of Christopher Lee by Robert W. Pohle Jr and Douglas C. Hart pp.63-65 – credits, review
  • Good Versus Evil in the Films of Christopher Lee by Paul Leggett pp.15-32; 167
  • Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company by Howard Maxford pp.219-225 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films by Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes pp.30-32; 179
  • The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn pp.20-21 – illustrated article
  • Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death by James Marriott & Kim Newman p.83
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.175- credits
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.177-178 – illustrated credits, review
  • Lord of Misrule (new edition) by Christopher Lee pp.176-179,182, 188-189, 209, 220, 223, 299-302, 331
  • The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies: An A-Z Guide to Over Sixty Years of Blood and Guts by Peter Normanton pp.181-183
  • Peter Cushing: The Gentle Man of Horror and His 91 Films by Deborah Del Vecchio and Tom Johnson pp.92-98 – illustrated credits, review
  • by Walt Lee pp.200; 201 – credits; illustration
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester pp.135-137 – illustrated credits, review
  • Terence Fisher by Peter Hutchings pp.2, 4, 10, 18, 36, 52, 55, 72, 82, 84, 88-94, 95, 100, 109, 110, 111, 113, 125, 130, 132, 134, 135, 136, 137, 139, 140, 143, 148, 156, 164 – notes
  • Terence Fisher: Horror, Myth and Religion by Paul Leggett pp.44-56 – notes
  • Terror Tracks: Music, Sound and Horror Cinema by Philip Hayward (ed) p.61
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.88-89

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide November 2007 pp.11, 21 – illustrated listings
  • BFI Southbank Guide August 2013 p.8 – illustrated listing
  • Darkfest II Official Programme p.4 – illustrated note