Dracula Has Risen From the Grave

Starring: Christopher Lee
Warner Home Video
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 21 June 2004

One year after a woman's body is found in the bell of a church Dracula is thought dead. But none of the villagers, including the priest, will enter the church after dusk when the shadow of Dracula's castle in the mountains spreads across the holy building. The Monsignor arrives from another town to check that all is well. When he discovers the truth he persuades the priest to accompany him to the castle to seal the doors with the church's cross and the sanctity of prayers. When the priest is left behind he falls down an incline striking ice beneath which the Count lies. Blood from the priest's head finds its way through cracks in the ice and suddenly Dracula has returned. Hypnotising the priest into doing his will, he discovers that the Monsignor is behind the cross on the castle. Travelling to the town of the Monsignor, Dracula plans his revenge on the religious man and his daughter, taking another slave along the way in the form of the beautiful tavern wench. However, he doesn't count (pun intended) on the resistance of a young student who intends to marry the Monsignor's daughter...

Isn't it strange how memories cheat on you? For years I had thought this story to be Dracula Prince Of Darkness, but obviously I got mixed up somewhere along the years. More than any other Christopher Lee portrayal of Dracula this one has made an indelible mark on my mind. I remember our favourite fiend under the ice with blood from the priest seeping through the cracks. I recall the large cross on the doors to his castle, and the Caped Crucifix-Evader later falling on to it.

Lee's Dracula is significantly different to Bela Lugosi's, although both incarnations are valid. Whilst Lugosi was the creepy, silver-tongued charm-meister ("Hear the children of the night; what beautiful music they make."), Lee is more the obvious monster. He speaks but a handful of sentences throughout the film, content instead to rely on his imposing and dramatic presence and control via his bloodshot hypnotic eyes. There is no doubt he is commanding in the part, and no surprise he became a horror ikon of the age. Having met Christopher Lee I can vouch for the fact he is a gentleman with manners from a bygone age... although he is mysteriously quick to point out how many films he has been in over his remarkable career which are not horror-related.

Unlike many horror films from the late sixties and the seventies era, this one concentrates on the story, avoiding getting bogged-down in the expected images of bodies in upright coffins and misty graveyards. The violence is almost non-existent by today's standards; certainly a mile away from the often tasteless slashers of the eighties. But what this film has is class and tons of it. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave is one of the better examples from Hammer productions. Just don't watch the trailer; due mainly to the voice-over it's more hammy than a truckload of pigs.

Ty Power

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