Friday, June 8, 2012

COUNTDOWN: Hammer Dracula Films

Hammer Studios was pretty effing great. They brought red-blooded lusty, heaving raunch to classic horror stories. Rarely were there any gay characters, but the subtext of a lot of their movies has some bits of pink thrown in. Not only that, they were gory and lascivious... and somehow classy at the same time. I honestly can't describe what these movies meant to me when I was a kid watching them with my dad and older brother.
My fondest memories were probably with the Dracula films, which I saw more than Frankenstein or Mummy. I haven't seen them all (that kung fu one from 1974 holds no interest for me, because it would just make me sad). But I've seen most of them. Here are my top five:
5) The Brides of Dracula
(No Christopher Lee, but the titular brides were a step in the right direction after a significantly less sexy original. Great climax. Windmills are terrifying, and I say this as an avid mini-golfer.)

4) Dracula AD 1972
(It's ironic that the "modern" one is by far the most dated. But in a good way. Sometimes I watch this movie just to stare at the furniture and wall paper.)
3) Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
(Great use of forests. It simultaneously makes me want to visit England and stay as far away as possible.)
2) Taste the Blood of Dracula
(Not the most talkative of Christopher Lee performances, but the film is never dull, and man can Mr. Lee lurk!)
1) Dracula: Prince of Darkness
(Christopher Lee's big return, and the perfect Hammer combination of damsels, splashes of blood, creepy castles, and overacting villagers. If you haven't seen any of these films, start with this one.)

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