Horror of Dracula Review

1958 - Drácula - Horror of Dracula - tt0051554 _es
Time to look at another Dracula film! Dracula has always been my least favorite of the classic monster legends. Yes…he’s less enjoyable for me than Frankenstein! I didn’t have high hopes for this film, but it was an old one so maybe it would be good. Alas, it wasn’t to be. The film made all of the mistakes that you would expect of it aside from animal violence. While I am grateful about the last part, it’s not enough to save the whole film.

Mr. Harker heads to Dracula’s lair to end the vampire once and for all. Little did he know that the mission was doomed to fail right from the start. Dracula is simply too powerful and with his telekinesis..there is really nothing that a mere mortal can do. Van Helsing realizes that Harker has been gone for a long time and decides to take out Dracula himself. Can he really beat the vampire or will everyone have to die first?

The film is surprisingly violent so you should be ready for a large body count. Characters are impaled and naturally bitten as this is a vampire film. It’s why I will never be able to get into Vampire films since blood sucking is essentially inevitable. If a 50’s version of Dracula is this violent, you can imagine how gruesome the latter ones are. Dracula takes no prisoners and simply creates more and more vampires whenever he fights.

I will give the film some credit for actually doing a good job of making you think that Mr. Harker actually stands a chance. He’s very confident and puts on a good poker face when talking to Dracula. His mistake was letting his feelings get in the way of his mission. He should have found it a little suspicious that there was a girl who wouldn’t tell him much, yet she still wanted to bypass the friend zone with him. Sadly, Mr. Harker is like the average film protagonist in the sense that he just doesn’t care. It certainly came back to bite him.

Vampires are typically weak against Garlic, Sunlight, and the sign of the Cross. It depends on the version, but all three are effective in this version and they are the best way to fight them off. Van Helsing uses all three, but he forgets them for the final battle so we get to see a quick fist fight. As with most classic monsters, Dracula likes to resort to the classic choking attack to take the heroes down for the count. It proves to be a bit of a mistake as it always gives the heroes a little extra time to prepare themselves.

Dracula doesn’t have a whole lot of personality and it seems like he just wants to make everyone miserable and suck as much blood as possible. His character had potential in the opening scenes, but then he quickly went off the deep end and became a villain who simply needed to be stopped. I suppose that’s all the character that he really needs, but it doesn’t make me care for him as an antagonist.

Mr. Harker was a decent lead, but his one mistake was a huge one and made him look like a rookie. How can you let yourself get bitten? Howwwwwwww! Van Helsing is more prepared than Mr. Harker, but he loves to be vague. Instead of rushing over to challenge Dracula, he likes to have some bait ready and it always cooking up a scheme that will allow him to approach the vampire from a defensive standpoint. Helsing is smart, but not overly brave and he could have reduced the body count if he had been upfront with the other characters from the start.

He certainly doesn’t deserve all of the blame though as the rest of the characters look pretty bad as well. Dracula’s victims aren’t able to fight their urges nor are they able to defend themselves so Dracula easily manages to take them out. If you know that you’re about to die anyway, you may as well through a good punch or something. It’ll look good on the stat sheet.

The first vampire lady to appear was rather odd on that front. She asked Harker to help her and then she attacked him. That’s not a very effective way to get someone to help and then Dracula defeated her. I assume that her lust for blood was just too powerful, but that still makes her look terrible. If you want to escape, then that should give you enough motivation to escape instead of going back and forth with the decisions. Ah well, that’s why her mission ultimately failed.

The beginning of the film with Mr. Harker was the best part and I feel like the whole film would have been better off if it had followed his plot a little more. Spending 80% of the film as a mystery thriller with him would have been epic. He would have had to die at some point anyway, but that would be the climax and the rest of the film would have still been fairly epic. Fans who went in expecting Dracula to get a big role would have been disappointed, but it would have all been worth it for the epic intro.

Dracula doesn’t look very tough in this version. I would still choose him over The Mummy in a fight as their physical abilities are more or less equal, but Dracula has the speed edge. Beyond that, I have a feeling that bullets would hurt him in this version as he didn’t seem all too sturdy. If he really cannot turn into a bat as Helsing believes, that also hurts his retreat options. The humans could have beaten Dracula if they knew any good judo tricks. Running up to Dracula and throwing a punch is simply not going to cut it here.

Overall, Dracula doesn’t manage to be as entertaining as the Mummy film. It’s short, but it’s still just pretty bad. The violence was a little over the top and you’ll just be reminded of why vampire films are no fun. The bitemarks are always a little gross and the concept of blood sucking is rather sad as well. Dracula Untold managed to avoid all of that for the most part and if you want to watch a film with the legend, check that one out instead. This one is best left in the relics of yesterday as it is forgotten while in the shadow of the original. Of course, this film did get 8 sequels…which is very intriguing. The legacy did not die here!

Overall 2/10

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