Hammer films made nine films based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES ranks them in order from best to worst!
1. Dracula (1958)
An obvious choice, perhaps.
But as far as I’m concerned, this is the daddy of them all, one of the most important British horror films ever, and a rollicking rollercoaster ride to boot.
Still fresh as the day it was released, and there’s not many films from 1958 that can say that.
2. Brides of Dracula (1960)
A popular audience choice as best-in-series.
Hammer refine their formula, and the lack of Lee’s Count is more than made up for with Peter Cushing further exploring the possibilities in Van Helsing’s character.
A film packed with memorable set pieces, and David Peel’s slightly Oedipal Baron Munster.
3. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Freddie Francis (standing in for an ailing Terence Fisher) brings a new visual flair to the series, opening with a shocking set piece and utilising a few tricks from the cinematographer’s handbook.
Lee gets a little more to do than in his last outing, but this is also an endearing love story at heart.
4. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Very much a consolidation exercise, reminding audiences that Lee’s Count was back in the saddle.
Wonderful moments, with Barbara Shelley a fetching addition to the annals of the undead, but the decision to make Dracula mute was a poor one which would blight the next couple of entries.
5. Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
In which Ralph Bates almost became Hammer’s new Dracula (but that’s another story).
The sudden return of Christopher Lee means this is very much a film of two halves, but very entertaining halves nonetheless.
6. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
Does this Count count?
I’m going to stick my neck out and say yes, since the tale leads us back to Dracula for the denouement, albeit with John Forbes-Robertson replacing an unwilling Christopher Lee. Kung-Fu vampire flicks don’t come any better than this.
7. The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
Makes an arguably better stab of placing Hammer’s Dracula in a contemporary setting than the previous effort.
Flawed certainly, but full of fascinating ideas.
And, what’s not to like about a cellar full of femme vampires?
Sadly, misrepresented by a glut of poor quality, public-domain releases over the years, it deserves better.
8. Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
Daft as hell, mad as a box of frogs.
Its somewhat quaint attempts to get hip and down with the kids are hilarious, and yet it still holds a dear place in many hearts (your correspondent included).
Also features a live performance by Stoneground for all you psychedelic rock fans (your correspondent included).
9. Scars of Dracula (1970)
A film which only appears in last place, because… well, one of them had to.
A film which is nowhere near as bad as its reputation might suggest, and tries boldly to get the Count back to his origins as the seemingly courteous host. Sadly fell victim to cost-cutting by its backers.