What to Watch on Shudder: Dracula (1958) and More

Films that include vampires, waxworks and bogeymen all feature in this week’s guide to what to watch on Shudder…

What to Watch on Shudder: Dracula (1958)

Hammer’s 1958 version of Dracula is one of the seminal adaptations of Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Known as Horror of Dracula in the United States, the film sees the first outing of Christopher Lee as the iconic vampire. Hammer’s interpretation of Dracula really emphasises the seductive nature of the title character. Gone are the less savoury descriptions that can be found in the novel. Dracula is both ruthless and seductive in this 1958 version. Like most adaptations of Stoker’s most famous work, there are a number of difference between the book and the film. Nevertheless, the gothic reigns supreme; the themes of otherness and duality are prominent. Dracula is one of the classic vampire films, and features perhaps the best-known Van Helsing: Peter Cushing. Read a full review here.

What to Watch on Shudder: Waxwork

Anthony Hickox’s Waxwork feels very much of its decade. Released in 1988, the film is probably best described as a camp horror. Waxwork focuses on a group of older teens who are invited to a party at a Waxwork museum which has mysteriously popped up in their suburban town. Featuring some of the great horror icons, the name of the game is to stay alive. Those looking for real chills may be disappointed as the emphasis of Hickox’s film is on comedy horror. There is some gore and trepidation, however film concentrates on fun aspects of the premise. This is supplemented by the who’s who of the horror world; Count Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Mr Hyde and many more. Starring Gremlins’ Zach Galligan, Waxwork is a great choice for a not so serious horror.

What to Watch on Shudder: Child Eater

Writer-director Erlingur Thoroddsen’s short Child Eater certainly does not shy away from the macabre. The film is about a young boy who is having nightmares about a bogeyman, and the babysitter who must protect him. Child Eater combines a number of horror tropes – the urban legend, the monster in the closet, the gory climax – in a most compelling fashion. Refreshingly, the film does not give the ending many may expect. Thoroddsen remade the short as a feature-length film in 2016.

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Film Review: Dracula (1958)

Dracula 1958Hammer’s 1958 classic Dracula (Horror of Dracula in the US) gets a Blu-Ray release featuring both the 2007 BFI restoration and the 2012 Hammer restoration.

Jonathan Harker travels to Count Dracula’s castle under the guise of working as his new librarian. After Harker’s attempt to vanquish Dracula, the vampire travels to the nearby town and sets his sights on the family of Harker’s fiancee…

Like most cinematic adaptations of Bram Stoker’s seminal novel, Hammer’s Dracula makes a number of alterations. Characters are combined, and some omitted altogether. Nevertheless, the essence of the novel still shines through. The general premise remains the same, even if the locations and character differ.

Hammer’s interpretation of Dracula really emphasises the seductive nature of the title character. Gone are the less savoury descriptions that can be found in the novel. Dracula is both ruthless and seductive in this 1958 version. It is a theme that Hammer continued to highlight as their series of Dracula films went on.

Like most vampire films, Dracula is not actually frightening. What the film works with is a sense of foreboding. The Gothic reigns supreme; the themes of otherness and duality are prominent. Rather than terrifying viewers, Dracula makes them uneasy. The title character is more complex than some of the other movie monsters.

Christopher Lee delivers a commanding performance in one of his most famous roles. Peter Cushing is excellent as Van Helsing, while Michael Gough is well cast in one of his early feature-film roles. There is a strong use of colour in Dracula, which is enhanced on Blu-Ray. The 2012 restoration adds a few moments, most notably the very climax of the film. For this alone, fans of the 1958 film should aim to view this restoration.

Dracula is released on 3-disc Double Play, with a host of extra features, on 18th March 2013.