DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE - 1968
USA Release: Feb. 6, 1969
Hammer Films / Warner Bros.
Rating: USA: G
DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (Obviously).
The poster from Hammer Films and Warner Bros. gave the appearance of some kind of vampire comedy, but this movie was nothing of the sort.
The movie starts with a boy peddling his bicycle in some 19th century year. Cheery lad, goes to the church, makes his sign of the cross, sweeps up, goes to ring the bell. Hmm. No bell. He tries again and notices that his hands are covered in blood. Holy crap! The bell rope is covered in blood! He runs up the steps to the bell tower to see what could be making the rope so damn bloody.
Meanwhile, the local catholic Priest walks up to church, hears the boy kind of sort of scream, and enters just in time to see the boy run out mit der bloody hands. Priest notices blood on the bell rope and goes up to the bell tower to see what could be making the rope so damn bloody. Wouldn't you know it? Something up in the bell tower is bleeding!
So it's a year later and the Monsignor comes around. It's a good time to visit, what with all that nasty business last year with the murderous blasphemer, it will be good to see how the church is getting along.
As it turns out, the church is empty and the local priest is drinking high spirits at the village tavern. This doesn't sit well with the Monsignor and the local drunks tell him that they won't go back to church, not while the shadow of Count Dracula's Castle passes over it. That shadow feels evil, I tells ya. No good can come of a shadow like that.
Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies: WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE OBLONG BOX, FRIGHTMARE) won't have any of this balderdash and earnestly insists that the local Priest (Ewan Hooper) show him the way up the mountain.
Turns out it is one hell of a climb, and the thinner but softer Priest isn't up to it. The Monsignor is patient but won't stop for any Tommyrot and hustles as best he can up the mountain with a huge metal cross. Ernest gets to Dracula's castle, earnestly reads a few passages from the bible, sticks the cross through the lock on the door, and goes back down the mountain.
Ah! A good day's work!
Meanwhile, the village priest, succumbing to drink, falls off his rocky perch, bops his bloody head, winds up falling on top of a sheet of glass that holds Dracula (who knows why?), glass breaks, priests blood drips on Dracula, and Bob's yer Uncle.
Monsignor gets back to town, wonders where the priest went since he isn't there, but doesn't think enough of the man to get the townsfolk to go on a search. Instead he hustles his corpulent butt back home.
Dracula meanwhile, is incredibly peeved that someone staked a huge metal cross smackdab in front of his door, barring him from access. He vows revenge and with the priest's help, he's gonna get it.
YOU THINK I'M MAKING THIS UP?
HAMMER WAS ALL ABOUT THE CLEAVAGE!
So back in his own larger town, Monsignor is tended to by his attentive sister, Anna Mueller (Marion Mathie) who, it must be said, was extraordinarily large busted (or made to appear so). Whenever she is in the scene I uncontrollably fixate on her large mammalian protruberences - and I'm not normally a tit man, but holy crap! And because this movie is from 1968, they are, in all likelihood, REAL! How freaking distracting! Understand this movie was rated G so they never come out to play. And she is a cougar so there is never the hint of them coming out. And if you think I'm going on too long about this point, then you aren't aware of Hammer Films.
See, Hammer was all about the bulging cleavage in their day. Once in a while they'd set the puppies free, but most times they didn't. And when it came to gore and nudity, such things in a Hammer film were never hampered by more than a GP rating (equivalent of a PG rating today). And if there was gore and no nudity, then it was a G rating - which meant the same thing then as it does now (up-tight, left-wing puritans put an end to that. How they went on, in the 70s and 80s, about the violence and the imagined "harm" it was having on Amerca's youth. Thanks Tipper Gore, for not a single damn thing!).
To Hammer Films' credit, their writers knew how to tell a story. Unlike so very many American Horror Thriller films that feature nudity (nearly all of them - especially the cheap ones), the story doesn't stop dead in its tracks for a moment of sex. U.S. Horror Thriller sex scenes, especially from that era, seems pasted on to the film as if from the sweaty, nervous hands of a Catholic School boy, worried what his priest or parents will think (or doing it to spite them). Sex and nudity in a Hammer film is just part of the flow of life even in the most intentionally debauched scenes.
Which brings us to the trio of Anna's daughter, Maria (virginal but willing), her boyfriend, Paul (VERY willing), and Zena the barmaid (Barbara Ewing: TORTURE GARDEN).
You see, Monsignor is Maria's uncle. Maria (Vernoica Carlson: HAMMERHEAD, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, CROSSPLOT, THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, VAMPIRA, THE GHOUL, BLACK EASTER, FREAKSHOW) is having her birthday when she becomes "marrying age" (and all that implies...).
Paul (Barry Andrews: BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, REVENGE, DOCTOR WHO [TV-1979]) is there to help her celebrate (and all that implies...), but feathers get ruffled when Paul admits to the Monsignor that he's an atheist.
After a few awkward moments, Paul returns alone to his room above the bar. But first he drowns his sorrows. Zena sees the drunken, temporarily fragile lad, takes him up to his room and starts to help herself. But wouldn't you know it, Maria snuck out of her house to be with Paul. After all, it's her birthday, baby!
Dracula (Christopher Lee: HORROR HOTEL, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, THE WICKER MAN, GREMLINS 2, SLEEPY HOLLOW, THE LORD OF THE RINGS [all], CORPSE BRIDE), meanwhile, is beating the living crap out of his horse to arrive in the town and really fix that Monsignor up but proper. He's also about to show Paul how to handle two women Vampire style!
Romance, song, blood, heaving bosoms, and feats of derring do. Director Freddie Francis (THE BRAIN, PARANOIAC, NIGHTMARE, THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS, HYSTERIA, THE SKULL, THE PSYCHOPATH, THE DEADLY BEES, THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE, TORTURE GARDEN, TROG, TALES FROM THE CRYPT , THE CREEPING FLESH, TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS, SON OF DRACULA, CRAZE, LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF, THE GHOUL, THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS, DARK TOWER), delivered his best as typical of his work. In fact, to call him a workman director is no inslut. The man could seemingly direct good and great films as easily as he breathed.
Writing the story that Freddie told was writer and producer, Anthony Hinds (aka John Elder: THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , CAPTAIN CLEGG, THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE REPTILE, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, THE MUMMY'S SHROUD, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, SCARS OF DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF, THE GHOUL), the best writer for the best director.
Adding to the lush mix is the keen eye of Cinematographer Arthur Grant (THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, THE TERROR OF THE TONGS, SHADOW OF THE CAT, THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER, CAPTAIN CLEGG, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , PARANOIAC, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, THE REPTILE, THE WITCHES, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, THE MUMMY'S SHROUD, QUATERMASS AND THE PITT, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, FEAR IN THE NIGHT, DEMONS OF THE MIND) along with the perfect Production Design skills of Bernard Robinson (CRIMES AT THE DARK HOUSE, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, DRACULA , THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES , THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH, THE MUMMY , THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, THE TERROR OF THE TONGS, TASTE OF FEAR, THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, SHADOW OF THE CAT, THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER, CAPTAIN CLEGG, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , PARANOIAC, MANIAC, THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, NIGHTMARE, THE DEVIL SHIP PIRATES, THE GORGON, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, THE REPTILE, RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK, THE WITCHES, THE MUMMY'S SHROUD, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN).
And of course, of course! OF COURSE! CHRISTOPHER LEE as DRACULA!!!
Look at all of those damn Horror Thriller movie credits that these people share! No wonder their work is considered the very best in Horror cinema and no wonder that, to this day, Hammer Films largely remain revered for their magnificent body of work!
DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE had it all. People who wrote, directed, built, lived, and breathed classic Horror Thriller fiction. And it's all there on the screen!
Three Shriek Girls
This review copyright 2010 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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