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 particular functionality kinds of its stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
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Extra info for Dracula (British Film Guides, Volume 7)
Fade. We are inside a cellar-like room, presumably that which lies beyond the door seen at the end of the previous shot. The camera tracks through the room towards a tomb which bears the name-plate . As the name-plate ﬁlls the screen, blood spatters on to it from an unseen source. Fade to black. This short sequence runs less than two minutes but its apparent simplicity should not obscure the various ways in which the camerawork conveys to us not just an environment – the exterior of Castle Dracula – but also an attitude to that environment and to the drama that is about to begin.
One of these, a sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein to be called The Revenge of Frankenstein, went into production in January . But Hammer’s next Gothic was not to be a Frankenstein ﬁlm at all. Instead, in a move reminiscent of the beginnings of Universal horror in the early s when ﬁlm versions of Dracula and Frankenstein appeared within a few months of each other, the Hammer ﬁlm-makers turned their attention to the story of the vampire. During the production of The Curse of Frankenstein, Hammer had been keenly aware of the need to distinguish its version of Frankenstein from the famous Universal–Karloff version.
1 Such an attitude has sometimes been seen as betraying a philistine crassness on the part of the Hammer ﬁlmmakers, with this then used to damn Hammer’s ﬁlms. A more balanced account might identify this promotion of Hammer’s image as simply that, the promotion of an image undertaken to raise the market’s awareness of this small, hitherto relatively unknown company. ’2 One of the ways in which Hammer sought to create a place for itself in the market in the late s was through investing its product with particular notions of quality.