The next title I watched on Time Out Best 100 List was Hammer Films 1958 staple Dracula aka Horror of Dracula. I know it may seem odd that I'd never seen this movie, but, when it comes to Hammer, I've always gravitated to the more female-centric titles in their catalogue. Shocking, I know...
This adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic story sees Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) and Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) battling the evil Count Dracula (Christopher Lee).
Watching Dracula was a pleasurable experience, but I can't help but feel this is one of the more dated entries on the list. Having said that though, there was plenty of stuff to love. Director Terence Fisher puts his workman-like stamp, that served him so well throughout the fifties and sixties, on the proceedings by beautifully transporting us back to the end of the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, Cushing is the shit in this film. Much like his performance in Fisher's creature feature Island of Terror eight years later, Cushing takes charge of the situation and does what needs to be done.
|Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula.
If I had one gripe about the film, it was how little Dracula was actually in it. Lee comes in at the beginning and, after dispatching Harker, steels away for a good chunk of the film. Apart from briefly ravishing a few damsels in distress, we don't see Dracula again until his final confrontation with Van Helsing and his compatriot, Arthur (Michael Gough). I know this was the first in a long line of Dracula films featuring Lee, but considering he is the title character, I figured he'd have more screen time.
|John Van Eyssen (left) as Jonathan Harker & Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.
Hammer Films are a huge part of the horror canon and have inspired countless filmmakers, so I cannot contest the inclusion of Horror of Dracula on the Time Out list. Though I may not value Hammer as highly as some, I fully recognize their artistic importance.