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Terence Fisher
Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough
Writing Credits:
Jimmy Sangster

Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire's castle under false pretenses.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 12/18/2018

• Theatrical Trailer


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Horror of Dracula [Blu-Ray] (1958)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 19, 2018)

For the first of seven films in the Hammer franchise, we go all the way back to 1958 for Horror of Dracula. Simply known as Dracula in the UK, this film offers an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel.

Set in 1885, Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) goes to Castle Dracula ostensibly to catalog the Count’s (Christopher Lee) library. However, Harker actually intends to kill the vampire.

Harker fails and instead he finds himself in the process of vampiric transformation. This leads Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) to attempt his own assault on Dracula.

Due to Blu-ray release schedules, I checked out the sixth and seventh entries in the Hammer Dracula series before I watched this one. Given the nature of horror films, I don’t think this mattered in terms of continuity, as the two movies I saw felt fairly “standalone”.

Besides, it’s not like I don’t know the basic Dracula story already, though the Hammer rendition doesn’t adhere religiously to Stoker’s source. It takes from the novel in fairly broad strokes but it opens up the tale with some new ideas.

Those add spark to the proceedings. Horror manages to stay close enough to the source that it still “feels like” Stoker, but it tosses out variations that allow it to create its own personality.

Unlike the Bela Lugosi film, this one rarely drags. The 1932 version really sagged at times, but Horror manages a good pace that mixes scares, action and drama well.

Horror also boasts a nice cast, especially in regard to its leads. Lee doesn’t get all that much screen time, but he makes the most of his appearances and creates a vicious, powerful Count.

Cushing lends the appropriate professorial air to Van Helsing, but we also buy him as a “vampire hunter”. Cushing delivers his character in a believable manner that allows us to invest in the fantasy material well.

All of this adds up to a very good riff on the Dracula legend. Horror keeps us engaged from start to finish and launches the Hammer franchise with a bang.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C/ Bonus D-

Horror of Dracula appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though inconsistent, the image usually satisfied.

Sharpness seemed a bit up and down, as occasional shots felt a little soft. Nonetheless, the majority of the film offered appropriate delineation, and it could like pretty impressive at times.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Plenty of grain meant no signs of digital noise reduction, and print flaws failed to materialize.

The movie’s Technicolor hues tended to feel lush much of the time. As with sharpness, some inconsistencies popped up, but most of the movie exhibited rich, full tones.

Blacks were dense and deep, while shadows offered nice clarity and delineation. For the most part, I felt pleased with this presentation.

Unfortunately, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack held up less well. Speech tended to seem somewhat brittle, and those issues also impacted music, as the score could be on the rough, edgy side.

Effects worked a little better, as they showed reasonable accuracy, but they came with some distortion at times as well. This never became a bad track, but it seemed mediocre even when I considered its age.

The disc includes the film’s trailer but it lacks any other extras.

A seminal genre film, Horror of Dracula offers a taut tale. It brings some interesting changes to the source and packs a punch. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture along with erratic audio and minor supplements. I feel pleased with this compelling movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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