Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh
Directed by Terence Fisher
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)
The determined Dr. Van Helsing tries to protect the victims of Count Dracula while following the evil vampire's trail towards a final confrontation.
Hammer Films' first Dracula opus is a memorable piece of Gothic horror with an excellent star-making performance from Christopher Lee in a minimum of screen time, and a wonderful turn by Peter Cushing playing a role 180 degrees opposed to his cruel Baron Frankenstein in the previous year's The Curse Of Frankenstein. A landmark vampire film with Lee's feral performance as Dracula, accompanied by blood-smeared lips and pointed fangs, making this a daring departure from previous entries in the genre, Cushing's Van Helsing is also new and different. His vampire hunter is a clever and noble hero as well as a man of action, sprinting after the Count in the thrilling climax to the film. Hammer's men behind the camera are important contributors as well, with James Bernard providing one of his most memorable scores, Jack Asher photographing the film in rich color, and Bernard Robinson providing memorable scenery, particularly in the atmospheric Castle Dracula. Jimmy Sangster's script, though it takes liberties (and changes characters) from Bram Stoker's classic novel, delivers escalating thrills, and this may be the best film of director Terence Fisher, excitingly staged and gripping throughout.