Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Return Of Dracula (1958)

Starring Francis Lederer, Norma Eberhardt, Ray Stricklyn, John Wengraf, Virginia Vincent
Directed by Paul Landres
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Count Dracula settles in a small American town, posing as the visiting foreign cousin of a local family, while a group of vampire hunters try to follow his trail.  

Although modestly budgeted and possessing little in the way of special effects, this independent production has much to offer, thanks to skilled direction by Landres and a strong performance by Lederer as the legendary Count.  Costumed in a tailored suit, without the typical cloak or aristocratic bearing of other screen vampires, Lederer still makes the character come alive with wonderfully piercing eyes, and a natural charm that makes his guise as an oppressed artist believable.  Landres doesn't have the financial resources for onscreen transformations of the supernatural figure, but employs smoke and fog to suggest what he can't show, and gets convincing performances out of the rest of his cast.  Gerald Fried adds an effective score to amp up the horror, with a title theme adapting the famous hymn "Dies Irae" into dark and foreboding music for Lederer's character, as well as several eerie passages accompanying Dracula's stalkings of his victims.

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