Pages

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hammer Rewatch: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)



            A look at Hammer’s Dracula series, Part 4…

            Christopher Lee returns for a third time as Dracula this outing, once again given the power of speech, although still not the most loquacious of characters. Still, despite his regaining the ability to speak, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave offers little we haven’t seen before. Dracula’s bites are a tad more gruesome, and the bodices keep drifting further and further south, but the formula was definitely wearing thin. Judging from the poster above, Hammer was aware of this, and started to play up the aspects that were beginning to feel dated and labeling them “camp” instead. And playing that card will only get you so far…

            The film starts rather erroneously, as one of Dracula’s victims is discovered hidden in a church bell. It’s a nice scene overall, but has no real bearing on the plot as the film flashes forward a year later and doesn’t look back. There, two priests undertake a mission to go to the Count’s former castle and cleanse it of all evil (i.e., put a big-ass cross on the front door). One of the priests chickens out, and while waiting on his companion, trips and accidentally falls into the frozen lake imprisoning Dracula himself (which you’d think would have melted during that “season’s changing” montage the film uses to mark the year gone by, but whatevet). Of course, Dracula lives again, and proceeds to hypnotize weak-willed villagers to do his bidding. And of course the film changes gears and the story switches over to a pair of bland, star-crossed lovers, and then of course Drac gets it into his head that he needs the young girl to be his new vampire bride. The film does add an interesting wrinkle to the formula by making the lead hero an atheist, but nothing’s really done with the idea and it’s resolved rather unimaginatively.

            As these films go on, it’s becoming more and more obvious how important Peter Cushing was to the formula, as the films definitely come across as lacking without the good Dr. Van Helsing (and would have to suffer through two more installments without him). At least Prince of Darkness gave us Father Sandor in return: here all we get is the rather weak romantic lead Paul. The only standout among this cast is Lee, who although gets to speak again, still doesn’t get an awful lot of screen-time. Illness prevented Terence Fisher from returning behind the camera, so new-comer Freddie Francis gets to come in and flex his directorial muscles. He does an admirable job getting across the Hammer style (especially in afore-mentioned scenes like the discovery of the dead girl in the church bells), but for some reason felt it necessary to film the majority of Dracula’s scenes through colored filters, which really doesn’t do anything but distract from the narrative.

            There’s little to recommend in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, even for self-avowed fans of Hammer; The formulaic and “been there, done that” nature of the series starting to show through…
           

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...