Title: Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Director: Freddie Francis
Cast: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson, Barry Andrews
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave is the third entry in the Hammer Dracula films that star Christopher Lee as Dracula. It's the film that follows Dracula Prince of Darkness.
The innocent couple waiting to be put through hell!
The story picks up right where Prince of Darkness left off, with Dracula frozen in the icy mountains close to his castle. The towns people are still frightened of Dracula even though Dracula has been dead for quite some time now. A Monsignor comes to visit the town and realizes that the people in the town are all still living in fear of Dracula even though he was destroyed in the last film. The town is so frightened, that they no longer go to church because Draculass castle casts a shadow over it. Even the priest of the church has lost his faith! So the monsignor decides to go to Draculas castle and perform and exorcism to convince the towns people that Dracula is in fact gone forever, so they can continue with their lives and leave the shadow of Dracula buried in the past. Too bad that the faithless priest that comes along with him ends up falling down some rocks and spilling his blood all over Draculas corpse bringing Dracula back to life!
What makes this one special is its visuals. Freddie Francis is the director this time around, giving Terence Fisher a deserved break. You see, Fisher was supposed to direct this one, but he suffered a car accident that didnt allow him to do it. So in came Freddie Francis, if you ask me, a welcome addition to the Hammer roaster of directors. He did a commendable job taking over the reigns of the series. And its a welcomed change in my book because Freddie Francis brings these films to a new level by giving them a very distinctive visual flare. Freddie Francis was an experienced cinematographer before he became a director, as a result, the film has some incredible looking colors. Colors you wont see no any other Hammer Dracula film.
Christopher Lee dons the cape and fangs again as Count Dracula looking more menacing then ever. I dont think Dracula has ever looked more evil on any of the previous Dracula films. Theres something about Draculas eyes on this one, the look more demonic then usual.
Freddi Francis, conjures up some very interesting visuals on this film. Theres some scenes with Dracula running around the roofs of the small town that look amazingly atmospheric. Or the scenes with the monsignor performing the rites of exorcism in front of Dracs castle in the middle of a storm! Great stuff. Theres just something special about this one. For example, theres this moment in which Dracula gets a huge gigantic stake through his heart! It just has to be seen to be believed! Though it can stir up a few vampire enthusiast since Drac takes the stake out of his heart...its still a great scene visually speaking. To me its one of the most memorable moments on ANY Hammer film ever. And thanks to director Freddie Francis, Dracula has Risen from the Grave has a lot of such visually great moments.
Sadly, Dracula is not given any real reason for his actions. According to the movie, Dracula gets horribly upset because the priest put a big golden cross across his castles door. Therefore he must "get his revenge!" Too bad Dracula is never given any real motivation for his actions. He is just reduced to waiting for one of his servants to fetch him a victim....not to menacing. Sometimes it seems like Dracula is just there to "look scary", chase after the girls and throw pieces of furniture at the guys, which by the way is something that Hammers Dracula has done from the first film! Whenever someones coming at him the throws a candlestick or a chair to try and stop them! I always find that hilarious. Im thinking they could have made Dracula a better villain, given him better motivations and just made him a bit more menacing. Maybe when he says that he is going to get his revenge, his just referring to what was done to him in the two previous films, but that isnt made very clear. As it stands, it just looks like Dracula is just scary looking in this one. I mean even in some scenes when he visits Maria in her room...he kisses her, touches her, gropes her...but doesnt even bite her!
The movie does go into interesting territory by making its hero, a young man named Paul, an atheist. He doesnt believe in God yet he is the one that has to face Dracula. Also interesting is the fact that one of the priests turns into a lap dog of Satan. But dont they always in horror movies? Well anyhows, it seems that Paul, the faithless hero has to come up with some, in order to save the day. The film also stars Veronica Carlson as Maria. What a hottie. Another beautiful actress to add to the Hammer roster. Gotta give that to Hammer films, they allways had the most beautiful actresses. Here, Veronica Carlson plays the virginal family girl turned evil servant of the lord of the dead.
In spite of its shortcomings in the story department, the film still manages to be a cool Hammer flick. It has all the usual atributes of a Hammer flick, the babes, the fog, Christopher Lee, castles, and the such, but it has a Dracula that looks more evil and menacing then ever, even though he doesnt pose much of a threat. Hey, at least Lee gets some dialogue in this one wich I thought was kind of strange since he didnt even say a single word in Prince of Darkness. Yeah, apparently Hammer was trying to compensate for the little screen time that the count has in Prince of Darkness and actually gave old Count Dracula a few more lines, apparently they were decent enough for Christopher Lee to say them this time. Though he really doesnt say much anyways. Sadly, theres no Peter Cushing around, he doesnt return to this series of films until Dracula 1972 A.D., one of the worst of all the Hammer Dracula films!
Theres a couple of interesting points about this movie, it was Hammer Studios most profitable film ever! And it was the first film to ever be rated by the Motion Picture Asociation of America (MPAA) way back in 1968, so now we know were it all began. The ending of this film connects directly to Taste the Blood of Dracula, the next film in the series. And I gotta hand it to Hammer for keeping the continuity going at least until the fourth film. Fun vampiric times for lovers of atmosphere.
Rating: 4 out of 5