Dracula (British Film Guides, Volume 7) by Peter Hutchings

By Peter Hutchings

Peter Hutchings' many faceted account of Hammer's 1958 gothic horror vintage explores the ways that the historical past of the Dracula tale, in addition to the Hammer company's personal fortunes affected the character of the movie, and appears heavily on the movie itself and the unique functionality kinds of its stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

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Extra info for Dracula (British Film Guides, Volume 7)

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The Hammer approach promoted an attention to detail in production and costume design, camerawork and lighting, performance, editing and music, among other things, and an accompanying concern to push a low budget to its limits, to make a film appear more expensive than it actually was. This in turn invested the films themselves with a degree of energy and ambition, not necessarily an artistic or cultural ambition but instead an ambition to do absolutely the best one could with the material available, for reasons of professional pride if nothing else.

7 This opening camera movement also helps to distract the audience both from the modest proportions of the building being filmed and the oddness of some of its features. The entrance to the castle is hardly a grand entrance – especially when compared with the much more spectacular presentation of Castle Dracula in Universal’s  version of the story – and, for some unexplained reason, the entrance to the cellar, presumably the place where the Count is at his most vulnerable as he sleeps in his tomb, is located outside the castle’s protective walls.

American horror in the s and s had developed a propensity for expressive and sometimes extravagant camerawork that often went beyond the immediate needs of the narrative to evoke mood and atmosphere. One thinks here, to give just two examples, of the ‘creation’ scene in The Bride of Frankenstein () and the heroine’s night-time journey to the voodoo ceremony in I Walked with a Zombie (). To a certain extent, the opening sequence of Dracula does precisely what these other sequences do; it evokes a particular mood, a mood of ominous foreboding.

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