October 17, 2016

The Return of Dracula.

Review #848: The Return of Dracula.

Francis Lederer (Count Dracula / Bellac Gordal), Norma Eberhardt (Rachel Mayberry), Ray Stricklyn (Tim Hansen), John Wengraf (John Merriman), Virginia Vincent (Jennie Blake), Gage Clarke (Reverend Doctor Whitfield), Jimmy Baird (Mickey Mayberry), Greta Granstedt (Cora Mayberry), and Enid Yousen (Frieda) Directed by Paul Landres.

Four years to the day since I reviewed Dracula (1958, #258), I decided it was time to review the other Dracula film released that same year, with this one produced by Gramercy Pictures (no relation to the current studio of that name) and released by United Artists. This was released in April of 1958, a month before the Hammer production of Dracula was released in America. The plot structure has some resemblance to Shadow of a Doubt, though I didn't think I'd see Dracula roaming the streets of a small town in California (one of my favorite lines is the mother suggesting her daughter to cut class in order to escort "Cousin Bellac" around town). While the movie is low budget, there is at least some fairly good camerawork and camera shots on Dracula are satisfying to look at. To be honest, I didn't really have kind of expectation for this film before seeing it. I hadn't heard of Francis Lederer, and I wondered how he would try to provide his own spin on the role. After all, the Dracula character is such an interesting one to see people try and carry their own flair, with the Lugosi and Lee ones being the most notable. Lederer does fine in the role, making a serviceable effort. He isn't inherently memorable, but he is at least better than a stage version of Dracula, one might say. It should be noted that he would play the role once more in an episode (named "The Devil Is Not Mocked") of Night Gallery (created by Rod Serling) thirteen years later. One thing I really didn't expect was that apparently Dracula can transform people he attacks into dogs (I guess it's better than just having them being zombie like). Then again I guess the mythos of Dracula always seems to have strange things included, so take it for what it is. The climax is fairly decent, with a surprise shot of color that certainly sticks out in a nice way, with a fairly decent way to have Dracula killed. It isn't anything monumental, but it is at least a serviceable horror film. It's not better than the Hammer Dracula film, but it is at least something one should at least consider watching around Halloween time, even if just for a look.

Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.

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