Halloween Havoc!: Christopher Lee in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (Hammer/Warner Brothers 1968)

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“You just can’t keep a good man down” states the  poster’s tagline for 1968’s DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, and how right they were! This fourth entry in Hammer’s Dracula series (and third with Christopher Lee as the Count…1960’s BRIDES OF DRACULA had Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing battling a different bloodsucker) takes up where DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS left off. Dracula’s still buried under the ice, but the villagers are still fearful of living in “the shadow of evil” cast by Castle Dracula. Monsignor Muller (Rupert Davies) rides into town, berating the citizens for not attending church, and their priest (Ewan Hooper) for letting them. The Monsignor and the reluctant priest trek up to Castle Dracula to perform an exorcism of the evil, but the cowardly priest won’t go all the way up. While Monsignor performs the Latin rites, bolting the castle door with a golden cross, the priest (who remains nameless, by the way) tumbles downhill to the frozen water, cracking the ice. Blood dripping from his forehead makes contact with the dead vampire’s lips and…Dracula lives!

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Dracula demands to know who put the cross upon his unholy castle. The priest, now under the Count’s command, is forced to tell him, and Drac and his new minion head out to Klienenberg, where the monsignor lives with his sister Anna (Marion Mathie) and her beautiful daughter Maria (the beautiful Veronica Carlson). Maria’s boyfriend Paul (Barry Andrews) is an atheist, which doesn’t sit well with the Monsignor.  Dracula originally planned to turn his wrath on Monsignor Muller, but when he discovers there’s a beautiful niece, his vengeance takes a different, more sinister, route.

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Freddie Francis directed this outing, taking the reigns from Terence Fisher. Francis was a distinguished cinematographer (ROOM AT THE TOP, THE INNOCENTS) whose horror credits include DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS, THE SKULL, TORTURE GARDEN, the truly twisted GIRLY, and TALES FROM THE CRYPT (he’s also responsible for the abysmal Trog, but hey, let’s cut the guy some slack). Francis’s DP on this film, Arthur Grant, used some special lenses to give the scenes with Dracula a colored spectrum around the edges, adding a nightmarish quality. Francis, who died in 2007, won Academy Awards for his cinematography on SONS AND LOVERS (1960) and 1989’s GLORY.

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Hammer Films were getting a bit more randy by this time, with Carlson and Barbara Ewing (barmaid Zena) showing plenty of cleavage. The blood quotient went up, too, especially in the finale with Dracula ending up impaled on that huge golden cross. Christopher Lee was crueler than ever as The Count, snarling out what few lines he had. Lee’s beastial interpretation set the standard for vampires to come, for better or worse. Sporting those bloodshot eyes, imposing his will on the weak, Christopher Lee has a field day in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. Would he return from the dead in yet another sequel? Like the tagline says, “You just can’t keep a good man down”!

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8 Replies to “Halloween Havoc!: Christopher Lee in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (Hammer/Warner Brothers 1968)”

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