Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Buddha Man's Tricks and Treats!

Good stuff!

Horror of Dracula (Hammer Studios, 1958) Hammer Studios had been making various potboilers and British film noir crime flicks for several years when they decided to do a new version of Bram Stoker's oft-filmed epistolary concoction and struck filmic gold. The script (by Jimmy Sangster) makes some large, but fairly comfortable changes to Stoker's story in the interests of compression and budget. We start off as usual with ol' Jonathan Harker travelling to Dracula's castle, but it seems a bit closer to Germany than Transylvania if you go by the local villagers. Dracula is very tall and not very Romanian, as he's played by Christopher Lee here; but all is forgiven because he's played by Christopher Lee here. And this time, Harker turns out not to be the Count's real estate agent and pawn, but a vampire hunter (!) employed by Van Helsing and well aware just where he's temporarily hanging his hat. He's all ready to lay down some serious stakage, however, he's no match for the Big D, and soon the Big Fanghuna has settled in near Jonathan's hometown in England, the better to put the bite on his fiance. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) shows up searching for Harker, hangs out a bit with Harker's pal Arthur (Michael Gough), and soon is in for the fight of his life with the Grand Poohbah of Vampires.

While Dracula avoids working on his tan, Van Helsing suggests some
decorating touches that are not well received.

This is a tasty little horror treat, done to a turn by the fine folks at Hammer. The cast is impeccable, the direction tight, the production atmospheric and there are some solid scares to be had. Both Cushing and Lee play their parts very well, and this was the first time of several for each (though they each took at least one picture off featuring the other before coming back together for the last couple 15 years later). Titled simply Dracula in its native land before coming here to have Horror of added to avoid the ire of Universal Studios, this had some scandalous onscreen blood and bosomy cleavage (though no nudity) for the 1950's, but obviously those aspects come off a little more tame more than 50 years later. If you have ever or have never enjoyed any of the various Dracula movies, you should really check this one out, you'll be glad you did!

Horror of Party Beach (Iselin-Tenney Productions, 1964) Okay, thanks to those idiotic Medved bothers (no, I didn't forget the R) and whichever of their "books" it was featured in, this movie is ranked down near the bottom of the barrel. But looking at it again recently, it's actually a tongue-in-cheek romp that throws in several disparate elements to see what might stick on the entertainment wall. It ends up being a mix of a beach movie, a musical, an enviromental treehugger flick, and a monster movie - who exactly thought this was meant to be taken seriously? Probably the biggest misstep was the attempts at gore in the monster attack scenes, but they're not much either, mostly stage blood smeared on the victim. You know, the silly jokes, cornball slapstick, and goofy appearance of the monsters (with their oft-mentioned "mouthful of sausages") might have been a tip off. But noooo.

Getcha dogs heah!
Everyone acts like the filmmakers were trying for Gone with the Wind II: Prissy's Revenge and failing. I personally think they succeeded admirably in making pretty much a one of a kind movie. The music is catchy, the acting is mostly non-existent, the monster suits are elaborate even if they are giggle inducing and if you're like me and enjoy your movies a little out there, by all means check this one out!

Thank you Buddha Man! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Lee is a brilliant actor even in bad movies, so I'm sure this one is good.

  2. It's amazing to see in this initial Hammer Dracula film just how much in command Lee & Cushing are in would become their signature roles (along with Peter's Baron Frankenstein) and Valerie Gaunt is still one of the sexiest female vampires in motion picture history.

  3. Craig, I didn't read this review as I have the Blu Ray lined up to watch this Halloween, so I didn't want any spoilers. I know, it's Hammer, hard to spoil, right? I'll be back when I get to it!