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“Dracula” (1958)

Genre: Horror
Director: Terence Fisher
Starring Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee

“Dracula” begins with Jonathan Harker arriving at a tumbledown, remote castle in Germany to document the library of Count Dracula (Lee). We soon discover the occupation of librarian is a cover for Harker’s real identity: a scholar of vampirism and that Harker is there to slay the Count.

After Harker’s attempt to kill Dracula fails, Dracula flees the castle in search of Harker’s friends and family, none of whom are conscious of the looming threat, with the exception of the renowned Doctor Van Helsing (Cushing).

This became the first attempt at the Vampire Count by famed British studio Hammer, and though the movie takes some liberties with the novel (mostly to check the pace of the film and focus on the most important points), it remains the most admired film adaptation. This is mostly due to the exceptional performance from the two principal actors.

Christopher Lee is an imposing Dracula, the role for which he is always remembered. His entry (in shadowy light at the top of a flight of steps) is arresting even now, and the welcoming charm he instantly cloaks himself with is fascinating to see. Cushing’s presence carries the film, and his decorum and resolve moves the plot along well, maintaining the horror theme despite a few excellent comedy moments.

Effectual as it is, this almost certainly isn’t the most chilling horror film ever, nor is it packed with special effects. However, this does not take away from the movie but instead makes it hugely charismatic and pleasurable.