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Dracula Has Risen From the Grave

Dracula Has Risen From the Grave(1969)

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"You just can't keep a good man down!" was the jocular tagline for Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968). Perhaps Hammer Studios, making their third Dracula movie starring Christopher Lee, were a bit concerned about how "hip" and "relevant" the old, old count would seem at the end of the Swingin' Sixties. They need not have worried. Although not the best of the series, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave is an effective chiller highlighted by the presence of the six-foot-four-inch Lee who is second only to Lugosi as the public's image of the chief vampire.

Anthony Hinds, who had written the stories for all the previous Hammer Draculas, wrote this as well under the title "Dracula's Revenge." It opens with a murder Dracula must have committed near the end of the previous movie, going to a great deal of trouble to place a female victim's corpse in place of the clapper of a church bell. One can only imagine this is the sort of thing that provides the undead with much needed chuckles at the end of a long night's work.

The movie then cuts to a year later as a traveling monseigneur arrives in the village to ask the priest why no one goes to church. Rather than tell him why there might a problem ringing the bell for services, the local priest mutters about "evil". The meddlesome monseigneur drags the priest up the mountainside to perform an exorcism on Dracula's castle. The priest ends up bleeding on Dracula who, unnaturally, wakes up and, rather cranky about the whole affair, seeks revenge upon the monseigneur.

One change behind the camera was that, unlike the previous Hammer Draculas, Terence Fisher was not the director. Cinematographer Freddie Francis took over and, although Hammer aficionados see him as a step down, he does a decent job recreating the look and mood of the Fisher-directed Draculas. One odd touch Francis introduces is to place a red filter with a hole in the center over the lens whenever Dracula's evil presence is felt. There is an excellent use of color throughout the film, which is very well presented on this DVD. Technicolor movies of this period often featured wonderfully strong, vibrant colors even on low-budget films such as this one.

The lack of budget does show up, however, in some elements such as Arthur Grant's cinematography, quite good in some scenes but wholly unconvincing in others such as a supposedly midnight chase through the woods that looks more like midday viewed through sunglasses. A larger irritation is the lack of a good hero. Usually with movies of this sort, it is the strong villain that makes the movie. However, while praising Christopher Lee's Dracula, many people ignore the importance of his usual foil, Peter Cushing's Van Helsing. Here Cushing has been replaced by Rupert Davies' Monseigneur who is not even aware he is under attack until nearly the end of the film. His aid is a young atheist (Barry Andrews), which would seem to be a promising plot element but not much comes of his lack of belief in the crosses that work so effectively on the Count.

The DVD contains the feature presented in widescreen and 16X9 format and the print is in such excellent condition that low-budget elements such as stock footage and voice-dubbing become quite evident. The extras are a little sparse, however, with only a trailer included. There is no commentary track. Those desiring a sterling copy of this often-intriguing horror movie, however, should be quite satisfied with the quality of the presentation.

For more information about Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, visit Warner Video. To order Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, go to TCM Shopping.

by Brian Cady