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Please be aware that it doesn't follow the plot of Bram Stoker's novel. As long as you go into not expecting it to keep to the novel then you will enjoy it. All in all not a bad film. Lee is brilliant as the Count!
This is a review of the Dec 2018 Blu-ray release of the Hammer horror film "Horror Of Dracula".
Horror Of Dracula (most of the world title) aka: Dracula (UK title) is unquestionably the greatest Hammer horror film the studio ever produced. Released in 1958, following on the heels of Hammer's revolutionary color take on the Frankenstein mythos (Curse Of Frankenstein), Horror Of Dracula reinvented and established a blueprint for gothic horror that has been a tremendous influence on especially vampire films for decades to follow. The film is rightly regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made.
Previously, "Horror Of Dracula" has been problematically restored and remastered by the BFI in 2007 for UK theatrical showings as well as a Blu-ray release that features a controversial revisionist color grading that pushes deep blues especially for night scenes that was never present in the original film. On the plus side, the UK transfer reinserted the UK "Dracula" title in the opening credits, correctly framed the movie, included the original UK/US cut of the film as well as a slightly expanded version that included newly discovered Japanese footage that contained an alternate scene as well as significant additional footage of the film's climax featuring Dracula's disintegration. Best of all, the complete last 30 minutes worth of surviving Japanese footage was included as a stand-alone extra in it's raw, unrestored glory. A German release by Anolis a few years ago added a few more frames of footage to the climax from the Japanese footage packaged in graphically beautiful mediabooks. These UK/German releases are region B locked.
This new Blu-ray from the Warner Archives Collection brings Horror Of Dracula to region A Blu-ray for the first time in the US. The presentation is a bit of a disappointment however. The color grading is far more balanced and faithful to what the original theatrical prints looked like. However, the picture is darker with high contrast and there's significant black crush which obliterates detail in darker parts of the frame. The framing retains the correct, balanced framing of the previous BFI restoration releases (the old DVD release should be avoided due to zoomed in framing which chops off a large portion of the top and bottom of the image). The soundtrack is a bit brickwalled and comparatively louder than similar period home video releases. The only extra included in this release is a theatrical trailer and English language subtitles. This version of the film is the US/UK theatrical cut of the film and does *not* include the Japanese footage. Oddly (or perhaps lazily), WAC didn't include the US "Horror Of Dracula" title in the movie's opening credits, simply going for the BFI transfer's UK "Dracula" title despite the disc and case graphics calling the film Horror Of Dracula.
There's a version of this film that's screened on the TMCHD channel around Halloween every year that is actually the best looking theatrical cut print of this film currently available and includes the original "Horror Of Dracula" title in the opening credits.
It's a shame that this great film hasn't benefited from a proper complete and accurate restoration, no doubt due to original film elements being in poor condition now more than ever and the cost and labor involved. Not just that, but this is a film that deserves a comprehensive home video release from a boutique home video label such as Criterion or Arrow with the multitude of bonus features that the UK Blu-ray release provides that is only crippled due to the revisionist color timing of the film itself.
For potential buyers of this film, the movie itself gets my highest recommendation. The new Blu-ray release by Warner Archive Collection however suffers from a less-than-quality source and transfer and no extra content excepting a trailer.
The movie itself is great.The performances by Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are great.To me though the BluRay quality is nothing spectacular and the lack of special features is a negative.The 3 star rating is for the nothing spectacular BluRay transfer and the lack of special features.I give the movie 5 stars.Something to think about,"When Harker arrives at the castle,since it is daylight why didn't he go down in the suspect crypt and see if Dracula was there and if he was,stake him while it is daylight?Number 2,when Van Helsing sees Dracula run into the castle,why didn't he he take a CROSS(CRUCIFIX),wooden stake,and hammer with him?By the way the only SPECIAL FEATURES on this film are ENGLISH SUBTITLES and the otiginal preview.I hope they can do a 4K transfer of this film with more SPECIAL FEATURES.By the way in the opening credits it is called by its UK title"DRACULA".It was released in America as :"HORROR OF DRACULA".Something interesting I noticed in the movie,when Dracula and Harker are talking in Harker's bedroom in the castle you can see their breath.H/as anyone else noticed this?
I have loved many of the other Hammer Horrors brought to Blu-ray, but Horror Of Dracula is a huge disappointment on several fronts. Compared to other versions, this one is so dark that I often felt disengaged while viewing it. Many backgrounds were so dark that instead of seeing gradations in the shadows it looked like large blocks of black. Even the colors at times seemed over-saturated. I went back and checked my DVD and found it much more pleasing than this. Only extra was an original British trailer that was faded and splotchy. Thirdly, I thought the BFI restoration was supposed to have an extended disintegration scene but was not included in this. Also the TCM HD version also looked superior.. All around a waste of my money.