Actually, Dracula has defrosted from the freezer and he conspicuously has a reflection at a key early point in the movie, but they’re minor grumbles as Lee thaws out old fang face and Hammer horror really start to make the character their own. We’ve crept into the early 20th century and but we’re still in 19th century eastern Europe, of course, however, we’ve left the literary roots of Stoker’s novel far behind in favour of a more lurid, cinematic approach to the vein-erable Count.
When Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies) visits the village nestling in the dormant yet menacing shadow of Castle Dracula, he finds the townsfolk still living in fear and the local priest (Ewan Hooper) suffering a crisis of faith. Determined to put an end to the evil haunting the town, the Monsignor climbs up to the castle where the Monsignor conducts an exorcism and places a large metal crucifix across the door. Too frightened to accompany the monsignor, the priest stops halfway up the trail and when the mountain shakes as the exorcism is performed, he falls and hits his head on a rock, blood from his head wound dripping down into the frozen lake where it revives the entombed Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). Exiled from his castle by the crucifix, Dracula sets out to avenge himself against the Monsignor and his family.
Dracula’s a real force to be reckoned with in this blood-curdling tale. Taking control of the faithless priest as his servant, Dracula decamps to the town and sets about snacking on the buxom barmaid while he plots his revenge. The Monsignor’s niece (Veronica Carlson) quickly catches his eye and soon the race is on to save her from the count’s toothsome advances.
There are some great set pieces here and some interesting ideas thrown into the mix, not least of all our heroine’s suitor revealing himself to be a staunch atheist, much to the monsignor’s outrage and Dracula’s advantage. It’s a sexy, pacey action horror adventure. Lee seems to have renewed gusto for the role and the supporting cast are terrific value. The production values are everything you’d expect from Hammer in their pomp and director Freddie Francis makes free with the old claret to ensure a thrilling time.
The finale of this Dracula outing is one of the best of the series as Dracula finally manages to get that pesky crucifix off his front door only to fall and impale himself on it at the bottom of the ravine. Put that in your song, Alanis Morrissette! This, and the adventure that follows directly on from it, “Taste The Blood Of Dracula”, are probably my two favourites out of all the Hammer movies. This is indeed a golden period of Dractober!