Saturday, 10 August 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 242: Fri Aug 30

Dracula (Fisher, 1958): British Museum, 8pm

Monster Weekend at the British Museum is the launch event for Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, which will comprise a major season at BFI Southbank and across the UK from October to January next year.

Here is the BFI introduction to the second night's screening: Maligned and misunderstood by critics on first release, Hammer’s bloodily beautiful reworking of Dracula has grown in reputation over the decades and is widely regarded as the definitive film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. Wonderfully cast, with Christopher Lee icily magnetic as the centuries-old vampire and Peter Cushing a resolutely upstanding Van Helsing, it was evocatively directed by Gothic-auteur Terence Fisher; and here the viscerally erotic allure of the Count and his shadowy realm was captured – in full colour – as never before. The titanic climactic confrontation between Cushing and Lee, though much imitated, remains unsurpassed. Restored by the BFI National Archive in 2007, the film will be screened in a new digitally remastered version with additional footage.

Chicago Reader review:
Having hit the jackpot with The Curse of Frankenstein, Britain's Hammer Films updated another monster classic with this 1958 Dracula remake, which distinguished itself from earlier efforts with its dripping blood, bared fangs, women's cleavage, and compulsive gong banging on the soundtrack. This Grand Guignol treatment bowled people over in the 50s, and it still yields some potent shocks—the sudden cut to a rabid Christopher Lee in tight close-up during Dracula's first attack is particularly hair-raising. Peter Cushing carries most of the ho-hum script as Dr. Van Helsing, though the well-lit color photography, central to the Hammer formula, can't compare with the shadowy magnificence of Nosferatu (1922) or Dracula (1931).

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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