The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

Directed by Terence Fisher [Other horror films: Three’s Company (1953, episodes ‘The Surgeon’ & ‘ Take a Number’), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Horror of It All (1964), The Gorgon (1964), The Earth Dies Screaming (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Island of Terror (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Night of the Big Heat (1967), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)]

The last time I watched this, I made a small mishap, and by that, I mean I watched it the same day as six other adaptations of this Sherlock Holmes story (specifically, the 1914 and 1929 silent films, the 1937 German version, the classic 1939 movie, the 1972 American television movie and the 1983 British television movie), and didn’t try to review the last three until the end of the day, when they all got mixed up in my mind.

So I had to take a step back, accept defeat, and watch this one again (not that it’s any hardship, believe me) in order to properly get my bearings on the film. And I think that I’ve come to a conclusion in doing so: I prefer the 1939 version just a bit, which, given the cast of this Hammer classic, might surprise some.

Now, it’s still a great film, and if you’re interested in some classic Sherlock Holmes, you’d be hard-pressed to find many films better, but I just don’t think that Christopher Lee was the appropriate actor for Henry Baskerville. Lee is, in many ways, an equal to Cushing – both are actors I enjoy immensely. Those cast in the same role in earlier films (such as Peter Voß and especially Richard Greene) had a younger look, whereas Lee is only slightly younger than Cushing, and doesn’t really look it.

My point is that, for the role of Henry Baskerville, I think a younger actor works better. I certainly have no qualms with Lee, and I do rather enjoy his performance in the film. I just don’t think he feels much like the character he’s supposed to be portraying, which is my biggest issue with the film.

Otherwise, the cast is splendid; I loved Basil Rathbone as Holmes, but Peter Cushing is just as good. I think that Rathbone was a bit more fun (for instance, there’s no scene of Holmes trolling Watson while in disguise here), but both are great. André Morell (The Plague of the Zombies, The Mummy’s Shroud, Behemoth the Sea Monster, and The Shadow of the Cat) does decent as Watson. He’s not as bumbling as Nigel Bruce’s, but also not as straight as Fritz Odemar’s rendition.

Marla Landi, playing the daughter of Stapleton (himself played by Ewen Solon) was a nice addition, giving us a character different from what he had before. Ewen Solon (Jack the Ripper) was rather different from what Morton Lowry gave us (when it comes to Stapleton, I think my favorite performance was Fritz Rasp, from the 1929 version). Francis De Wolff (The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll) was solid as Mortimer, Miles Malleson (The Brides of Dracula and Dead of Night) okay comedic relief as the Bishop, and John Le Mesurier made for a good Barrymore (for some reason, the 1939 version of the character was named Barryman, but every other version has been Barrymore).

The color gives a great sense of life to the moors. I don’t know if they ever look quite as creepy as they did in foreboding black-and-white via the 1939 movie, but they do look decent here. Also, the ending of this one is a bit different from previous adaptations – it still worked quite well, and I commend it for trying something a bit different.

One thing I did find somewhat amusing was the absence of the cane scene. Present in both the 1937 and 1939 movies, Holmes looks at Dr. Mortimer’s cane and deduces a great many things about him, an early way to lend credibility to his craft. That scene is indeed replaced here with something else. Another thing – the attempted murder of Baskerville in London – was changed here to instead come from a tarantula bite.

Otherwise, much is the same – there’s Holmes going to Baskerville Hall after others have left, the sub-plot with the escaped convict remains intact, the missing boot of Baskerville, along with a missing painting. If you’re familiar with the story, you’ll find most aspects here.

Another thing you’ll find, at least in small amounts, is some blood. During the opening origin of the curse, a woman gets stabbed with a curved blade (they have curved. blades.), and later on, we see the aftermath of what looks like a ritualistic killing which leaves little to the imagination. It’s Hammer at it’s finest, and it’s all the better that this story finally got made into a color film.

The Hound of the Baskervilles has always been a solid story, and while I prefer the 1939 version, this movie is no slouch. I’d certainly recommend it to fans of classic cinema, and if you’ve not seen either the 1939 version or this one, do yourself a favor and do so.

8/10

The Werewolf (1956)

Directed by Fred F. Sears [Other horror films: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), The Giant Claw (1957)]

This mid-50’s film wasn’t what I’d call a bad film, because The Werewolf did have some quality ideas here and there, but I have to admit to finding a decent amount of it a bit dry and sometimes more melodramatic than I’d have hoped.

I’ll give the movie props for the setting, being a small mountain town named Mountaincrest – I liked the feel of the small town, and the townsfolk all knowing each other is quaint. So that’s all fine and well, but otherwise, not much else here really did that much for me.

Let’s start with the werewolf himself – the special effects during the transformation scenes weren’t abominably bad, so I don’t think that was much of a problem, but the character (played by Steven Ritch) didn’t really interest me, and while I did feel quite bad for the man, I just found that I had a hard time caring much beyond that.

I also can’t help but hating the lead, being the sheriff (Don Megowan) – he starts out by wanting to purely kill the werewolf, than he decides to soften his stance and take the werewolf alive, and then after the werewolf escapes from jail (entirely out of the werewolf’s control), he goes back to pure bloodlust entirely without good reason. Megowan gave a fine, if generic, performance, but boy, his character was pretty awful.

Better were Joyce Holden and Ken Christy, or at least their characters were better. Let’s be honest – no performance in this movie is really stellar aside from maybe Steven Ritch, and like I said before, he didn’t do it for me. Harry Lauter was an okay side-character, S. John Launer and George Lynn made for okay antagonists, but again, nothing stellar.

Whatever the case was with this one, The Werewolf really didn’t impress me much. It started out decently, but I just found my interest waning pretty quickly into the film, and at no point did it really pick up for me. It’s an older werewolf film that might be worth looking into if werewolf movies are your thing, but that’s the best I can say about it.

5.5/10

The Giant Claw (1957)

Directed by Fred F. Sears [Other horror films: The Werewolf (1956), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)]

I’ve only heard the vaguest notions about this giant monster movie, but that doesn’t really matter, as many of those late ’50’s giant monster movies aren’t really that different. This one certainly possesses some charm, and I think the science used in the film went all out, but boy, what a regrettable monster design.

I mean, that design looks so, so bad, the main problem being that the face that they use for the close-up doesn’t look threatening in the least, but extraordinarily goofy. It doesn’t do the movie any good when the main focus, the monster, just looks so ridiculous.

Aside from that admittedly large issue, though, The Giant Claw is okay.

The scientific explanation for this giant bird was certainly detailed. I got the whole matter/anti-matter stuff (you’re reading a guy who’s read Angels & Demons by Dan Brown multiple times), but once they got into mesa and stuff, I got as lost as that general. They could have just stuck with a giant bird, but whoever worked on the science in this film just went all out with an explanation I didn’t follow in the least, so I appreciate that.

Really, the only two performances that matter are those of Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth and The Creature Walks Among Us) and Mara Corday (Tarantula and The Black Scorpion), and I have no complaints with their characters. Their growing romance is sort of cute, and their plane banter was fun. I thought the two worked well with each other, and that helped make them feel not so stereotypical.

Oh, I guess you could count the Rod Sterling-esque narrator as another character. Seriously, as the narrator (who probably has a name, but I can’t find him credited) speaks at the beginning, it sounds legit just like the beginning of a Twilight Zone episode, almost hilariously so. And this is before Twilight Zone started, so it makes me wonder if this was more influential than we knew.

The Giant Claw isn’t a great movie, but I didn’t have a terrible time with it, and it’s not like it takes a lot of time to get through either. Also, as horrible as the bird looked, seeing it destroy building or just pick up whole trains like a boss was sort of cool. And that science – some in-depth stuff.

6.5/10

Beast from Haunted Cave (1959)

Directed by Monte Hellman [Other horror films: The Terror (1963), Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989), Trapped Ashes (2006, segment ‘Stanley’s Girlfriend’)]

One of the many cheap horror films from the late 1950’s, Beast from Haunted Cave has a little charm, but having seen it twice now, I don’t think that charm does a hell of a lot to save it.

The biggest problem here is that, as far as I could tell, we never really saw much of the beast. We saw it’s arms a few times, and sort of a head, but as far as an overall view is concerned, I still don’t know if it was a giant spider or a land-octopus. Maybe it wouldn’t matter had it been used to greater effect, but this movie doesn’t really possess the subtlety you’d see in, say, a Val Lewton production.

Michael Forest made for a nice-looking, rugged lead, and he worked well with Shelia Noonan, who’s the real star of the film. Noonan played a pretty complicated character for such a cheap-looking movie, which is a shame, because I think she did a pretty good job with her material. She never really did do much else afterward in the movie industry, which is, again, a shame. Here, she started off with a shaky character, but she developed quickly and became quite sympathetic. Frank Wolff (who is better known for his spaghetti westerns) was okay, but I feel like his character could have used some of the development that Noonan’s got.

Being a snow-covered hill, I think Beast from Haunted Cave had a solid setting (and in fact, the beginning of the film thanks the people of South Dakota for the use of their state for filming, which I thought was a nice gesture), and I liked the skiing (never been skiing myself, but it almost looks fun), but aside from looking nice, the setting itself didn’t have much to do with the story.

I think the main issue with this film is what I said earlier, being that the beast isn’t really seen clearly (at least in the version I saw – I watched a 66-minute version of this movie, and I know that longer prints exist, so I sort of wonder how those go), and while there are some brutal scenes (a woman being drained of her blood by the beast), there’s not a lot here that did much as far as I was concerned.

Watching this again wasn’t the worst time ever (and part of this is due to the fact that it’s a pretty short movie, no matter which version you watch), but I think there are plenty of better films from the late 1950’s that are worth attention.

5/10

Sora no daikaijû Radon (1956)

Directed by Ishirô Honda [Other horror films: Gojira (1954), Gojira no gyakushû (1955), Jû jin yuki otoko (1955), Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956), Godzilla (1957), Tokyo 1960 (1957), Bijo to ekitai ningen (1958), Daikaijû Baran (1958), Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (1958), Gigantis: The Fire Monster (1959), Mosura (1961), Varan the Unbelievable (1962), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963), Matango (1963), Mosura tai Gojira (1964), Uchû daikaijû Dogora (1964), War-Gods of the Deep (1965), Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon (1965), Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (1966), Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaijû (1970), Gojira tai Hedora (1971), Godzilla (1977), Godzilla 1985 (1985), Gojira vs. Desutoroiâ (1995), Gojira tai Megagirasu: Jî shômetsu sakusen (2000)]

Released beautifully in color, this Japanese monster movie, a follow-up of sorts to the Godzilla movies, is a pretty fun film, and while, much like the recently-seen The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, it isn’t my normal cup of tea, I can indulge in a sip or two.

What makes Rodan work is how the story unravels – it starts out with mysterious murders, and then it’s discovered those deaths are caused by a creature long-thought dead. And then we find out there are more of these creatures, and then there’s a giant egg, and then there’s two Rodans, so it’s all fun.

The design for Rodan isn’t the best, and the effects are questionable, especially since you can clearly scene the strings holding it up in multiple scenes, but I thought they were fun anyway. The fact that they flew at supersonic speed (and certainly had the sound effects to back that up) and caused utter destruction with their sound-waves was cool. One of the Rodans (or Rodani) just flew above a jeep, and utterly fucked it up, so when it happens to whole parts of the city, it’s hella fun.

I can’t say there’s much in the way of memorable characters here aside from maybe the lead, Kenji Sahara, and even he wasn’t amazing, but he did have cool hair. Really, in a movie like this, with so many moving parts, it’s not easy to have a plethora of important and interesting characters, so the fact that Sahara was about the only one that stuck out to me isn’t that much a deterrent.

Toho monster movies aren’t something I’ve a lot of experience with, but I’ve seen Rodan before, and it’s enough fun that I’m sure I’ll see it again. I don’t think it’s a special movie (though the color is smashing), but it is a decent one.

7/10

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

Directed by Eugène Lourié [Other horror films: The Colossus of New York (1958), Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959), Gorgo (1961)]

Giant monster movies aren’t really my go-to, even if they are classic. Sure, I enjoyed The Black Scorpion well enough, and Them! is a classic I grew up with, but in general, giant monsters running amok isn’t really my cup of tea, and as decent as this movie is, especially for being one of the earliest movies of it’s genre, I don’t personally know if I consider it that special.

Certainly the special effects are pretty good for the time (the stop motion can look a little janky, but it has it’s charm), and most of the destruction and chaos are fun to watch (such as that cop getting eaten – I could play that on loop for the rest of my life and count myself a lucky man), and I even like how they sort of build things up to the final confrontation, but despite all that, it’s not a movie I’d really find myself in the position to watch often.

Part of it may be the generic cast. Aside from Cecil Kellaway, who I loved pretty much every minute while on screen, the cast just had a been-there-done-that feel to them, and though I guess the main protagonist was interesting in that he was a foreigner (Paul Hubschmid, who was born in Switzerland), he still didn’t jibe with me, nor did anyone else.

More than anything, though, it’s the story here that just makes me pull away. I don’t want to give off the wrong impression, though – the movie’s perfectly fine, and I’ll be giving it a solid average rating. It’s just that it doesn’t amaze me the way I wish it would, and it also doesn’t have near as much an anti-atomic weapon moral that you’d perhaps expect from movies of this time.

No one can doubt that, in it’s own way, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a classic movie, and there are some great scenes (aside from the aforementioned police officer scene, don’t forget that lighthouse being taken down), but it’s not a movie I’ve ever happened to love either time I’ve seen it, for whatever that might be worth.

7/10

The Mummy (1959)

Directed by Terence Fisher [Other horror films: Three’s Company (1953, episodes ‘The Surgeon’ & ‘ Take a Number’), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Horror of It All (1964), The Gorgon (1964), The Earth Dies Screaming (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Island of Terror (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Night of the Big Heat (1967), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)]

Confession time – I’m a big fan of Universal horror films, and in fact, it’s probably the fact that I was largely raised on movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Invisible Man that I’m a horror fan today, and a lover still of the Universal classics.

I never could get into the Mummy, though, and to this day, I don’t know if I can honestly say I’ve sat through the whole thing without losing either my focus or consciousness.

Luckily, Hammer came around 20-some years later and gave us a new version, and it’s one I’ve seen a couple of times now and find quite a bit more palatable. Now, to be fair to the 1932 version, I don’t think there are any scenes in Hammer’s rendition that are near as classic or memorable as the opening to Universal’s story (the ‘he went for a little walk’ scene, with that slow, dragging hand, always kicked things into gears that just couldn’t be sustained), but overall, I find the Hammer version an easier movie to get into and enjoy.

Definitely the cast has to do with that. Peter Cushing is one of my favorite classic horror actors (Vincent Price is preferred, but Cushing is a close second), having starred in some damn fantastic movies such as Horror Express, Dracula (1958), The Flesh and the Fiends, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Abominable Snowman, and he’s no less great here. I love how, despite his character’s leg injury, he’s able to get some decent action in toward the end, and his back-and-forth with George Pastell’s character near the conclusion was top-notch stuff.

Pastell isn’t an actor I’m widely familiar with, but I really liked him here. Obviously, Christopher Lee played the titular Mummy (doing so much like how Karloff played Frankenstein’s Monster in the 1931 classic), and while his more muscular design wasn’t quite as good, or as classic, as the original version, I loved how he just burst through doors and went to town on people. Definitely a quicker-moving and more action-packed mummy, and I can’t complain about that.

Some aspects, or perhaps better said, the only aspect of Yvonne Furneaux’s character seemed to come in a bit late into the story, and it felt somewhat cliché (and in fact, it was done before in previous Universal Mummy movies), but it still led to some quality scenes. Eddie Byrne was solid too as an inspector who was actually open to the possibility of a mummy walking around and committing murders, so kudos to him.

There is a 13-minute flashback about halfway through the film that does drag a little (most of this is the history of the mummy and Egyptian stuff that you can find in every mummy horror film), mostly during the funeral procession lineup, but it’s the only time in the film we can really see Christopher Lee outside the decaying bandages, so it comes with it’s pros.

Being a Hammer film, the color here does help bring the film more to life, and the film, at least to me, rarely feels as dry as my experiences with the 1932 version. After seeing this twice, I still enjoy it, and while it’s not quite as good as Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein or Horror of Dracula, it is perhaps one of the few Hammer films that, to me, outdoes the original Universal counterpart.

7.5/10

From Hell It Came (1957)

Directed by Dan Milner [Other horror films: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955)]

So a member of an island tribe is killed, and he comes back for revenge as a murderous tree? Good stuff, good stuff.

To be honest, while the monster itself is beyond goofy (the design for the tree creature just looks incredibly silly), I thought a good portion of this was at least enjoyable, and I definitely didn’t have a poor time with it.

Some of this is due to the setting, being a small island filled with restless natives while American scientists are trying to research a localized plague. To be fair, the plague doesn’t really play into the story at all, but I did like the idea of the scientists being worried about being overtaken by the natives, given that there’s only three of them and God knows how many members of the island tribe. It gives off almost a tense vibe at points (though I noted that those poison darts also never came into play).

None of the leads were particularly impressive, though. I think John McNamara was the most interesting, as Tod Andrews’ character rubbed me the wrong way with some sexist remarks and Tina Carver, despite being a scientist, still came across as second best to the other doctors. At least we got some humor from Linda Watkins, who’s British commentary cracked me up (and worth mentioning that Watkins was born in Massachusetts, so I wonder if she spent some time abroad to get that accent).

I can understand why this movie’s gotten rather negative reception, but I found much of it more charming than disappointing. I don’t think by any means From Hell It Came was a good movie – it’s still below average in my eyes – but I did personally have fun with it at times, if only for it’s ludicrous story, so take that for what you will.

6/10

The Alligator People (1959)

Directed by Roy Del Ruth [Other horror films: The Terror (1928), Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954)]

Years and years ago, I saw this film on AMC. I’ve not watched movies from AMC for almost a decade, so you can probably tell just how long it’s been since I’ve seen this, and because of that, I was rather excited to finally sit down and see this again.

Sure, it’s not a great movie. The story is pretty much a combination of The Fly (1958) and The Maze (1953), so it’s not all that original. Even so, it has that fantastic classic horror feel that you get from 1950’s horror that livens the film up even though the trajectory of the film isn’t that unique. It can also be said the framing of the story – much of it being told in flashback – was reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

A big positive for this film is the setting, being a swamp. I always thought that swamps were an underutilized setting for horror, so whenever one pops up prominently in a movie, even one that’s not that great (such as 2005’s Venom), it’s nice to see. Here, it made a great centerpiece and led to some pretty solid scenes, and brought a quality atmosphere to the film.

Beverly Garland (It Conquered the World and Not of This Earth) made a fine lead, though as with most actress leads at the time, she was somewhat limited in character. Same could be said of Frieda Inescort, who had some interesting scenes and a somewhat enjoyable character arc, but at the same time, she didn’t add a whole lot come the finale of the film. Perhaps most importantly, Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolf Man) was present also, though his character didn’t really matter until the end. Still, he was sort of fun, and occasionally sleazy.

Perhaps most memorable about The Alligator People is the ridiculous design of the Alligator Person (despite the title, only one singular real “alligator person” appears), which is somewhat unfortunate, but as bad as it looks, there’s not much screen-time for it, and it almost has a hokey charm, so I don’t think it harms the film all that much.

If you’re a fan of 1950’s horror, I don’t think you’ll have a bad time with this one anyways. Sure, the story isn’t all that new, but it takes a well-loved route competently enough, and personally, I find the film a fun watch. It’s not great, but The Alligator People is a good time.

7.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast, amazingly. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Alligator People.

Dracula (1958)

Directed by Terence Fisher [Other horror films: Three’s Company (1953, episodes ‘The Surgeon’ & ‘ Take a Number’), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Horror of It All (1964), The Gorgon (1964), The Earth Dies Screaming (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Island of Terror (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Night of the Big Heat (1967), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)]

Horror of Dracula, sometimes known as just Dracula, is one of Hammer’s earlier ventures into horror, following both The Curse of Frankenstein and The Quatermass Xperiment. It’s a decent film with some great performances, but it’s never been a favorite of mine.

Part of it may have to do with the fact I grew up on the 1931 Universal classic version of this story, and so even to this day, when I hear ‘Dracula,’ I immediately think ‘Bela Lugosi.’ Maybe that’s not fair, but it is true. Christopher Lee, of course, is a great actor, but when it comes to Dracula, he never really possessed the suave, almost je ne sais quoi, quality that Lugosi did. Lee is perhaps more frightening, and certainly more action-packed, but I’ve always been on Team Lugosi.

Even so, I’m not blind to the flaws of the 1931 film. I do tend to prefer it – while it may feel far more stagey than Horror of Dracula, I think it has far more classic scenes and lines which this version lacks – but at the same time, I don’t think it’s vastly superior to this movie. In fact, the story here is probably a bit more crisp and tragic, with some occasionally creepy vibes (such as a vampire leading a young girl through a forest at night), and of course, the fact that this movie’s in color helps out a bit.

It’s by no means a bloody film. There is one decent scene of a stake being driven into someone that looks good, but there’s no splatter whatsoever. Late in the film, we do see some quality special effects – think the conclusion of Fright Night only done 27 years prior – but on a whole, I think The Curse of Frankenstein probably stands out a bit more than this one in terms of pushing the boundaries.

I’ve always been a huge Peter Cushing fan. From his wide horror catalogue (The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Gorgon, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Abominable Snowman), he’s never failed to entertain me, and I quite enjoy his serious character here. I especially enjoy seeing him work side-by-side with Michael Gough (who I know as Alfred from the Batman movies, but he was also in Horrors of the Black Museum, Curse of the Crimson Altar, Berserk, Black Zoo, and Trog), who perhaps plays the most tragic character of the film.

We get a good twenty or so minutes with Jonathan Harker, played here by John Van Eyssen. He’s not that memorable, but I rather liked the approach to setting the story up. Neither Carol Marsh nor Melissa Stribling did much to leave an impression, but the more humorously-inclined scenes with George Benson were fun at times.

As far as Christopher Lee goes, his performance as Dracula is fine. Like I said, I personally prefer Lugosi, but both bring something different to the role. Lee (The Wicker Man, The City of the Dead, and I, Monster) is a great actor, and though he doesn’t have a lot of screen-time here, he does make a solid and threatening impression when he does pop up, and I certainly can’t find fault in that.

I think my biggest issue with the film – which may be overstating it, as I don’t think the film is bad whatsoever – is that I’m just so familiar with the Universal classic. The story here may be better, like I said, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as classic to me. There’s no scenes that stand out as great, no quotes that stand out as stellar, and aside from Gough and Cushing, no performances which blow me away. I’ve always found Horror of Dracula a perfectly fine movie, but really, no more than that.

None of this should take anything away from the film. If I had seen this before the 1931 version, I’d likely enjoy this one more. It’s a good way to spend your time, and things pick up very nicely come the finale, which includes some solid special effects, but when it comes to classic Hammer horror, I’d personally prefer spending my time with The Curse of Frankenstein or The Mummy.

7/10