By Peter Hutchings
Peter Hutchings' many faceted account of Hammer's 1958 gothic horror vintage explores the ways that the background 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 designated functionality varieties of its stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
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Additional info for Dracula (British Film Guides, Volume 7)
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. On the most basic level, the audience is being manipulated here into believing that the set is much bigger than it actually is. Later in the ﬁlm, when the set is shown again, this time in long-shot, we can see that the statue and the cellar door are in fact only a few feet apart, and to move from one to the other should only take a few seconds.
At ﬁrst glance, Harker as revealed by his ﬁrst diary entry does appear to be the stereotypically unsuspecting victim. His voiceover notes that the coachman would not take him close to the castle, that no birds sing in the area, and that the temperature drops as he enters the castle grounds, but despite these sinister portents, he approaches the castle with no apparent anxiety. However, some of his early comments are decidedly DRACULA 44 . Dracula (Christopher Lee) visits the Holmwood house. ambiguous.
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. Something evil and powerful is lurking here, the sequence is telling us, something that will eventually appear to threaten us. But even by the standards of the horror genre, and especially ﬁlm horror in the s, the Dracula sequence is excessive.