Home Video

Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review [UK]

{2jtab: Movie Review}

Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray review U.K.

<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
//-->
</script>
<script type="text/javascript"
src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">
</script></div>{/googleAds}

4 stars

Universal’s monster catalogue had long been dormant, come the 1950s, and a smaller British production house called Hammer were savvy enough to recognise the potential of plundering those long beloved characters.

They had already made a successful foray into the horror genre, but Hammer experts assert it is the first of their Dracula films that solidified what became known as the Hammer formula: colour, horror, and sex.

In 1957, work began on a new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s infamous novel. Renamed ‘Horror of Dracula’ in the US, to avoid confusion with Tod Browning’s 1931 film, Dracula boasted a cast that included Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and began a long association for Christopher Lee as the menacing Count.

With a microscopic budget of 80,000+ pounds, large omissions and changes were employed in the script. There is no Renfield, no Quincy; Jonathan Harker’s role has been adapted to one of a knowing visitor to Dracula’s castle, which does afford the film some brevity in getting the story going; Mina and Lucy’s roles are intermixed throughout the narrative somewhat from the book’s versions. Creative reusing of sets and pairing down in scale of the novel’s grandeur gives this version a far more stage-like feel, but it is atmospheric nonetheless.

What it has going for it, above all else, is a stellar cast at the top of their game. Lee was invested in the character first time out, and, unlike latter films where he refused to deliver dialogue and hissed his way through production, in this Hammer classic he is remarkably powerful, icy, and intimidating in the title role. Cushing also demonstrates a naturalism and mastery of his role as Van Helsing. The supporting cast, with the exception of a very stiff and unlikable Jonathan Harker (Michael Gough), also bring believability and tension to the film.

Hammer films, by modern horror standards, are a bit tame, but a point of interest in this new restoration is that Dracula had trouble with the British censors, and certain scenes toward the end of the movie were removed, except in Japanese and certain European prints. These scenes were thought to be lost until a couple of years ago. So now, fully restored, the more graphic, face-peeling end of the count had been returned to the movie, as well as some more sexualised moments. Don’t be expecting Hostel level gore, but it’s certainly more graphic than what was original screened in ’58 and everywhere in the West until now.

This is the best of the Hammer Dracula’s. It has atmosphere, dynamic performances, the pacing is from an era now dead and buried, but it builds effectively to a satisfying ending. Nearly every movie goer, whether ravenous or occasional, has seen a handful of Dracula adaptations. This one is definitely worth adding to them.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray review U.K.Certification: UK:15.
Director
: Terence Fisher
Writer
: Jimmy Sangster
Cast: Christopher Lee; Peter Cushing; Michael Gough; Melissa Stribling
Genre: Horror
Tagline:
Don't Dare See It...Alone!
Memorable Movie Quote: "He would hide in the castle vaults for years we would lose him there"
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Home Video Distributor: Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK Ltd
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 8, 1958
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 18, 2013 (UK)

Synopsis: Jonathan Harker, a student of vampires, ventures to Dracula's castle and attacks him. The revengeful vampire leaves his dark abode to prey on the family of his attacker's fiancee. The only man able to protect Harker and his fiancee is Dr. Van Helsing, a friend of Harker's. As a fellow-student of vampires, he's determined to destroy Dracula.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray review U.K.

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 18, 2013 (UK)
Screen Formats: 16:9 - 1.66:1
Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
Number of Discs:
3; 1 x Blu-ray and 2 x DVD
Region Encoding: Region B/2

This newest 2012 Hammer restoration takes two cuts—the 2007 BFI restoration combined with the last reel of the long thought lost Japanese/Euro cut—and combines them into one resplendent new cut for Western audiences. The care taken on this one easily makes it the finest high definition Hammer film on the market to date. Grain is present throughout, retaining that vintage look it should have; repairs, de-noising, and edge enhancement are all but invisible; colours are bold and faithful to the era. This is a transfer that respects its source, and offers the best possible print of it seen to date.

Audio is also a fine restoration that respects its origins. The DTS-HD MA Dual Mono track is a cleaned and faithful representation of the film’s original soundtrack. Any hissing, pops, or faults from the track have been obliterated without detection. You won’t see your surround speakers sweating from this track, but the bombastic score will test your fronts, dialogue is as good as it’s ever been heard.

Special features are also decent, with featurettes covering the restoration of the lost Japanese cut footage, the making of the movie, and the censoring the film suffered all being informative, well produced, and interesting viewing, even to non-Hammer buffs.

Disc reviewed also contains a commentary (unpreviewed) and a 2 disc DVD copy of the movie as well. Pretty good package for a classic horror film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length commentary track

Special Features:

  • Dracula’s seduction of Mina
  • Dracula’s sunlight disintegration
  • Photo Stills

{2jtab: Trailer}

{/2jtabs}

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video Dracula (1958) - Blu-ray Review [UK]
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes