Jules picks up where he left off in October by running through some of the choice horror offerings from the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.
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Starring: Christopher Lee, Veronica Carlson, Barry Andrews
Director: Freddie Francis
12 months after the apparent destruction of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee), the local villagers are still living in the shadow of his evil, too scared to enter their local church where he met his icy (and seemingly final) demise.
As it turns out, they were right to be wary, as Dracula is soon back and looking for revenge on Monsignor Ernest Muller (Rupert Davies), who has barred access to his castle with a large gold cross placed across the entrance during an exorcism.
Still oblivious to the Count’s return, the Monsignor is unaware that Dracula has decided to take his revenge on his niece, Maria (Veronica Carlson). It’s up to Maria’s boyfriend Paul (Barry Andrews) and the faithless priest (Ewan Hooper) whose blood caused the vampire’s resuscitation in the first place to put an end to the curse once and for all.
The first Hammer Dracula film to be made outside of their home of Bray Studios, …Has Risen From The Grave was also the first to be made without the great Terence Fisher in the director’s chair due to illness, leaving Freddie Francis to step in. As much as Fisher would always be a loss to any production, Francis puts his own unique mark on this one, bringing a rich colour palette as well as eye for design that echoes the best of German Impressionist cinema no less. Subtle filters of crimson and amber are applied to the screen too, framing the action at key moments with a dream-like quality that bolsters the drama considerably.
Christopher Lee is his usual commanding self as the risen Count, striking an intense and intimidating presence in every scene he’s in, while being given added menace by Francis’ close focus on his horrific bloodshot eyes every time his desire to feed or kill rises up. It’s easy to forget just how much power Lee puts into Dracula’s voice, even in only a few lines and shows you just how much we missed by the films before and after this one where he is voluntarily mute.
If the film is lacking in anything, it’s that Dracula doesn’t have a big enough character as a foil. Barry Andrews is likeable enough as the young buck out to protect the girl he loves, but when up against an actor of Lee’s caliber, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed. Both Davies and Hooper as the men of god can’t really be faulted here either, it’s just none of them are a Van Helsing, or even a Father Sandor, though Hooper deserves plaudits for his believable turn as the lost priest turned thrall of Dracula.
Despite that, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave is a resoundingly entertaining runaround and more than holds its own when compared to others in the series.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy