Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Brides of Dracula


En route to Transylvania schoolteacher Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) frees a young Baron (David Peel) from his shackles. However, the young Baron is in fact a vampire and soon he is biting the necks of his mother (Martita Hunt), and young women (Andree Melly, Marie Devereux) that become the (titular) brides. However, Dr Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), who is passing through knows exactly what is happening, while the others are unsure, and makes it his quest to kill the Baron and allow give the girls bitten the chance to rest in peace.

Unlike many Hammer Horrors, including this film's predecessor Dracula (1958), the monster/villain of the piece is not the dominatory giant that is Christopher Lee (his domineering height of 6"5 making him the only British actor of the '50s tall enough to be cast as the Frankenstein Monster and the Mummy, and his deep, cold voice he has used for countless villains over the years being one of the reasons for him being cast as Dracula). If, like me, you're a huge Christopher Lee, thanks to both his earlier films, and his more recent roles, such as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), then you will feel disappointed before seeing the film, as he, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price are, in my view, the best Horror film villains. However, any disappointment is brushed aside quickly once you start watching.
The lighting in the film is dark, and atmospheric, to a spooky level of spinge-tingling cold, and you can never be sure what to expect to come out from behind a tree. The mise-en-scene is as well, with a very gothic feel to the sets, and those old, spooky mansions and graveyards within the village feeling more creepy than they do in most horror films. The music is very tense and gritty, organ and violin stuff that will keep you on the edge of your seat in those tense, well-scripted scenes, and the character's nerves and fear become your nerves and fear as you watch on. For a 1960 film it really does also use vivid images full of sharp, eye-catching colours that help greatly to create the tenseness. Add to all of this a very good cast; with Peter Cushing being a truly gripping and powerful character as the hero of the piece and keeping you on the edge of your seat; Yvonne Monlaur being perfect as the character who sets off the whole story, making the character deep, complex and powerful; David Peel is both charming, cold and cunning as the Baron and will send shivers down your spine. However, Martita Hunt is the most memorable making her character seem cold, heartless and beautifully created, and feel like a character such as Rosa Klebb from From Russia with Love (1963).
Combine these elements together and you have a very tense, gripping, powerful and well-scripted horror film on your hands, carried by its ensemble of characters brought to life by a wonderful cast of actors. A very good film, but trust me, never watch it just before bed.

Peter Cushing, Yvonne Monlaur, David Peel, Martita Hunt, Fred Johnson, Freda Jackson, Henry Oscar, Mona Washbourne, Miles Malleson, Andree Melly, Marie Devereux, Victor Brooks, Michael Ripper, Norman Pierce, Vera Cook, Michael Mulcaster, Henry Scott.

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