Director: Freddie Francis
Writer: John Elder
Cast: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Ewing, Barry Andrews, Ewan Hooper, Marion Mathie, Michael Ripper, John D. Collins, George A. Cooper, Chris Cunningham, and Norman Bacon
Composer: James Bernard
Release Date: 11/7/1968
MPAA Rating: G
Accompanied by a local priest (Ewan Hooper), Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies) performs an exorcism of Castle Dracula. Incensed over the holy desecration of his home, Count Dracula—returned to life by the blood of the priest—seeks revenge on the Monsignor by targeting his niece Maria (Veronica Carlson). Only Maria’s boyfriend Paul (Barry Andrews), a skeptical young man and disbeliever in God, can end Dracula’s reign of terror once and for all.
This film benefits from extensive character development and atmospheric sequences within Dracula’s lair. Nevertheless, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave is marred by a flimsy resurrection angle, a slow-moving storyline, and an extraneous conflict between Paul—an atheist—and Ernest Mueller, an esteemed member of the Catholic Church.
For its heavy focus on classic vampire tropes, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave will likely intrigue fans of the monster movie genre. Especially worth praising are the physical traits of Christopher Lee’s Dracula, whose towering stature, piercing eyes, and razor-sharp fangs serve to heighten his menacing nature as a villain. (Viewers may, however, take issue with Dracula’s inability to charm his victims in typical vampire fashion, which prevents him from seducing Maria while in the process of transforming her.)
Spending most of its running time on the personal lives and interactions of Paul, Maria, Ernest, and a barmaid named Zena (Barbara Ewing), this offering may evoke criticism for its lack of emphasis on Dracula—ostensibly the main character in spite of his limited relevance to the overall story.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Also quite puzzling are the actions of Paul, who remains a staunch atheist even after confronting a real vampire. In fact, Paul refuses to say a prayer when staking Dracula through the heart, allowing the Count to escape yet another attempt on his life—an aspect that somewhat undermines Paul as a likable and sympathetic hero figure.
Though enslaved by Dracula, the priest played by Ewan Hooper makes an honest effort to save others from sharing his fate—likely a direct homage to Renfield, Dracula’s conflicted servant in the original novel by Bram Stoker.
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave is a mediocre entry in Hammer’s lineup of Gothic horror films. Specifically, despite containing many gory and ominous scenes involving Dracula, this production suffers from a pedestrian narrative and a hackneyed climax.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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