After Hammer Studios' tremendous success with The Curse of Frankenstein
, they struck a deal to adapt Universal's catalog of classics and set their sights first on Dracula
. Christopher Lee removes the monstrous makeup from the earlier film and makes his entrance as an elegant, confident, altogether seductive Dracula, a frightening figure of flashing eyes and erotic allure. Peter Cushing, with his hawklike profile and piercing eyes, turns his rationalist intensity to Van Helsing: man of science as crusading vampire hunter. Director Terence Fisher and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster make a few changes to Bram Stoker's tale; gone are Renfield, Transylvania, howling wolves, and transformations into bats. The Count is an old-world aristocrat firmly ensconced in a castle in England and Van Helsing a crusading vampire hunter who plots his demise with an elaborate plan. This is the first film to really mine the erotic appeal of vampires: Dracula seduces Mina and Lucy like a devil tempting good to the dark side through sex--more suggestive than explicit, but daring for 1958. Lee is electric as the ferocious Count, despite his limited screen time, and Cushing turns Van Helsing into a virtual swashbuckler of a hero, leaping and diving through the climax like an aging action hero. Cushing reprises his role in The Brides of Dracula
, while Lee absented himself from the series until 1966's Dracula: Prince of Darkness
. --Sean Axmaker
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.